NB: This WILL contain spoilers if you’ve not read Delirium.
The sequel to Lauren Oliver’s Delirium, Pandemonium continues the story of Lena Morgan Jones, who lived in a society where love is seen as a deadly disease. Lena believed in the dangers of the disease until she met Alex, who taught her that feeling was better than not feeling. As the two develop a relationship and fight to keep it a secret the two decide that before Lena is cured, they will cross over into the Wilds together, a place beyond the border which isn’t governed by state control where they can be free to love each other. Though their escape is thwarted and it’s a race against time as Lena and Alex race to the border, Lena makes it over safely but she can only watch as Alex is swallowed by smoke, regulators, police and their weapons. And runs.
Pandemonium starts where the first book left off, but rather than conforming to the typical chapter structure it jumps between time frames ‘Then’ and ‘Now‘. The story fills you in about Lena’s experiences when she first was found in the Wilds, and talks about the present day where Lena is now part of the resistance, to bring down the DFA (Deliria Free America) and what happens because of that. The time frame of the story is around a year, and shows Lena then and Lena now.
believing Alex to be dead – after all, the last time we saw him things weren’t looking good – Lena works hard to reinvent herself and adapt to the Wilds, with the help of Raven who finds her half dead in the forest, and desperately tries to push memories of Alex to the back of her mind. At first she finds it difficult in the Wilds but then she finds her place and agrees to be part of the resistance.
Raven, Tack and Lena re-enter the city with new identities, the old ones are dead. At a very important DFA meeting, whereby the head of the association Tom Fineman, is introducing his son Julian as the face of the DFA; someone who is going to try to have his cure administered early despite the risks of, brain damage or even, death. Some people must be sacrificed for the whole, as they believe. Lena is told to track Julian, to keep an eye on him. However, when an unsuspected attack from scavengers erupts, Lena follows Julian and the two are kidnapped and imprisoned together in underground tunnels.
In the time that follows, the two escape their captors and work together to try to get out of the tunnels, also during that time, the two start to develop a close relationship. With the help of some invalids from the tunnels the two escape and are taken back to the Wilds by Raven and Tack, where they finally start to admit their feelings for one another. But just as they do, their homestead is invaded by scavengers, separating Lena and Julian, though what Lena later finds out is that it was no mistake. Feeling betrayed by the people she thought she could trust and not wanting to be just as bad as the DFA by sacrificing Julian, Lena leaves the homestead to try to get to him, knowing that he is to be administered a lethal injection as he has been ‘infected’, and will be made an example of for the sake of the cause.
This story no doubt a page turner. It’s packed full of action, suspense and plot twists that make you want to read on to find out what happens. Lena never stops running for her life, and fighting for the things she believes in. Secrets are uncovered and hidden agendas are revealed…and what about Alex? I really enjoyed this story and I really enjoyed the constant switch from then to now as it gave you glimpses into what things were like, like flashbacks, rather than half the book describing the time we missed out on and half the time living in the present, it balances the pace and the action well in this way.
Though I have to say, even though Julian and Lena develop a relationship, I never really saw Julian as a love interest; for me there is no competition, she loves Alex and is constantly trying to keep him from her mind – he is the one she should be with. Also, until the last chapter or so, I never got from Lena that she had feelings for Julian that transcended more than an intense friendship and wanting to comfort him, and when things did start to happen between them it didn’t really sit right with me and didn’t give that feeling of truth that Alex and Lena’s relationship had. I also never wanted to give up hope that he was still alive somewhere, so that may have been part of it. But I loved all the action scenes and the way Lena comes into her own and becomes a stronger character. I also liked the switch from Lena being taught, to Lena being the teacher; in the first book she is taught by Alex that it’s okay to feel and love and do all these things that society deem illegal and need to be eradicated, and in this book Lena is the one teaching Julian, so the dynamic is switched which I think gives her the more strong role.
The ending of the book completely broke my heart and left me wanting more; analysing the words wondering if there is still love there or not, I can only hope that it all works out in the end but with this story you can never tell. I’ve actually cried at the ending of both of these books and I love that they’re so well written that they can get such a reaction. I love these books and I’m already itching to get my hands on the next one, so it’s going to be a long wait. I can’t wait to see what else Lauren Oliver has planned for these characters and their story.