Last year, I read and loved Lauren Oliver’s beautiful debut, Before I Fall. At the same time, I also read and was pretty much indifferent to Oliver’s new creation, Delirium, the first in a trilogy about a new world where Love is considered a disease and all teens have a procedure to more or less become lobotomized, thus creating a society where nobody has any emotion and can easily be controlled.
As much as I was underwhelmed by Delirium, I will continue to stand by Lauren Oliver, because I know there is talent there, and I know we’ll see it again someday. So I will continue to read her stuff and hope we see the dazzling writing soon. And so, I picked up Pandemonium at the library, and was honestly expecting it to be worse than Delirium.
A brief overview: Lena (the heroine of Delirium) has successfully escaped Portland and is now in the Wilds, but without Alex, who she saw die before she made it over the wall. She has been “adopted” by a new group out in the Wilds of New Hampshire and learns how to live and survive in the world. She goes undercover in NYC, pretending to be a supporter of a group that encourages all youth to get the procedure, regardless of potential health problems. The spokesman for the group is a young man named Julian, who is dying of a brain tumor, and knows that the procedure will probably kill him. And yet, he still tells his supporters that he will have the procedure as soon as he is of age. And when he is kidnapped by a rogue organization, Lena follows him, and is captured herself. The rest of the story is about Lena and Julian and what they learn from each other, etc.
The good news first: I actually thought the new installment to the trilogy was better. I liked that the chapters alternated between present and future…I think it made me have to concentrate a little bit and pay attention to the story (because, sometimes with the dystopian trilogies, I have a tendency to scan the boring parts). Like in the first book, I liked the way Oliver described the cities in this strange future — both the orderly sections (above ground), and the strange and disorderly sections (like the city below the city).
And the bad news: Because I have actually read other books before, nothing in this story surprised me. The two “twists” at the end were so completely obvious, I almost had to laugh. But then I try and remember that this is a YA book, and that I am not a YA…and that maybe if I were, I would have been surprised or shocked or excited or…anything really.
I’m guessing the third book will mostly be about Lena’s love life, her mother, and the resistance staging a potential uprising against the government. I’ll read it, because one of these days Lauren Oliver is going to blow me away again. I just hope its sooner than later.