Series: Delirium #2
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publication Year: 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The old life is dead.But the old Lena is dead too.I buried her.I left her beyond a fence, behind a wall of smoke and ﬂame.In this electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller Delirium, Lauren Oliver sets Lena on a dangerous course that hurtles through the unregulated Wilds and into the heart of a growing resistance movement. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.
This is a review of the second book in a series. Beware of spoilers ahead.
Pandemonium is the second book in the Delirium trilogy. It follows up after the end of Delirium, in which Lena crossed over to the Wild. She was supposed to cross over with Alex, but Alex didn’t make it. Pandemonium is told from Lena’s point of view in chapters that alternate between ‘then’ and ‘now’. The ‘then’ is set right after Lena crossed over to the Wilds and met the members of Resistance group. While the ‘now’ is set when she’s already a part of a resistance group and situated inside of the border using fake IDs.
Plot-wise, I don’t think much happened besides Lena’s growth in the series. The ‘now’ chapters show Lena as a stronger and more knowledgeable character than in the first book. But that Lena doesn’t come out of nowhere. That’s what the ‘then’ chapters serve as; Lena’s journey from a scared girl inside the border to the strong-willed girl that she is now. True, there’s the kidnapping, which supposed to be a plot twist that will spark the upcoming revolution. But even that, I think, is predictable and not much excitement happened there.
I had a problem with the pacing in Delirium and I had it in Pandemonium too. They both start slow, so slow, that it feels like they aren’t going anywhere, then towards the ending is when all the actions happening. With Delirium, it is when Lena attempted to cross the border with Alex. With Pandemonium, it is when Lena and Julian ran from their kidnappers which will lead to Julian’s execution. This kind of pacing bothered me, but not so much that I had to stop reading. Still, for people who seek for action, I don’t think they will get past this problem.
What interests me more in this book is how the government and the resistance seem to be represented as science/ technology versus nature. Even inside the border, it is implicitly stated that science is their religion. The buildings inside the border always described as clinically clean, white, and in order. Lena herself when she wandered in the Wilds with Sarah and shown a ruin of a church, reminisced about her past life in Portland and described church inside the border as if it’s a lab. To quote her,
‘In Portland, our churches are made of steel and glass and clean white plaster walls. They are sanitized spaces, places where the miracles of life, and God’s science, is celebrated and demonstrated with microscopes and centrifuges.’
Meanwhile it is clearly established that the invalids, people living in the Wilds, use nature to their advantage.
I didn’t write in my Delirium review how the Delirium world reminds me of a tamer version of 1984 by George Orwell. But that’s how I felt about the book. People inside the border live under the illusion that they’re protected by the government when actually they’re living under fear of the government and regulators. People have to watch their every action and sentence if they don’t want to be suspected as a sympathizer or a member of the resistance. Even sometimes they would close the curtains in their houses so their neighbors wouldn’t spy on them and report them to the regulators. I think it’s interesting and scary at the same time.
All in all, Pandemonium is a nice sequel. I love Lena’s character development, I don’t like the pacing, but I’m interested in the science versus nature idea. I would love to see how that would wrap up in the next book which is the last book in the series.
In a world without love, this is what people are to each other: values, benefits and liabilities, numbers and data. We weigh, we quantify, we measure, and the soul is ground to dust.