It sounds cliche, but the end of Delirium hit me like a ton of bricks.
After listening to that amazing audiobook, there was only one thing to do. Buy the other two in the series from Audible and keep listening immediately.
A few hours later I was listening to the amazing and talented Sarah Drew perform the next part of Lena’s story.
“Now” follows Lena’s experiences as a member of the resistance. Now in Brooklyn, Lena is working with a couple of homesteaders to try and break down the system that caused her to have to flee.
Just like Alex, Lena is now an Invalid living amongst the Cureds in a big city and this transformation is remarkable, but the book couldn’t stand alone without it’s “Then” sections.
The chapters marked “Then” pick up right where Delirium left off. After breaking free from her home-turned-prison with the help of Alex, and escaping Portland, Lena finds herself on her own running through the Wilds.
She meets a group of homesteaders, a colorful group of people each with a unique personality and fire-y emotions. Among them is Raven and Tack, two of the leaders. There are others too, a little girl named Blue and a nine-year-old named Sarah.
The colorful cast that makes up Lena’s life in this new chapter of her story are intoxicating to listen to and it’s hard not to root for them.
Sarah Drew, once again, beautifully performs her audio version so that each of the characters has a distinct voice in both worlds.
There are points where I wish that Drew would narrate a book of poetry, where her voice takes on melodic tones that I can see accompanying iambic pentameter. At the same time, the action scenes are beautifully paced so that we are engaged for the entire sequence.
Even the two different Lena’s seem to be a little different in tone and inflection.
While I first thought that the “Now” and “Then” chapter division was a little confusing, I applaud Lauren Oliver for choosing to structure the book this way.
Looking at the two parts of the story separately, it wouldn’t hold up or be as interesting, if it was told chronologically. Telling the story through consistent flashbacks keeps us engaged and gives the reader something to look forward to.
It is because of the different structure of this book that I am proud to say that Pandemonium is probably one of the strongest middle books in a trilogy that I have read so far.
Most trilogies follow the following trends: the first book is strong, the second is okay, and the third is satisfying if a little rage inducing. I fully expected to be let down. I half expected to find Lena bemoaning how she lost Alex, perhaps even harboring anger at him for leaving her.
Instead I found her deeply incased in a mission and ensconced with a new group of people. She may have had an old life with people she loved but there is a clear differentiation between who Lena was in Delirium and who she is when Pandemonium ends.
Lena may not have been armed with a bow and arrow or chosen a daredevil faction to live with, but she dared to challenge the status quo. She’s going for what she wants. Not what her society thinks is good for her.
Lena is a strong character that is forged from her experiences. She is human. She is not made of iron or stone. She feels and she fights.
After all, that’s the whole point of this trilogy isn’t it? The Cure turns people cold and unfeeling. It takes away the extreme emotions that can create art, poetry, and ignite passion. Lena wants to feel. She wants her passion.
“I love you, they cannot take it.”
And Hana’s quote:
“You can’t really be happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes.”
Lena’s emotions are part of her character and it is what the resistance is fighting for. Lena is transforming out of necessity.
That said, the story itself does set up for a love triangle when Lena is tasked with tailing the son of the leader of Delirium Free America (the DFA). Julian Fineman’s story is tragic, but the way he’s characterized throughout the book humanizes him. Soon, I found myself rooting for him too.
A large part of Pandemonium’s success is the way in which it builds the world around Lena. We encounter valid cities, we get to explore a different one, and we get to see the reach of the resistance.
FINAL RATING: 4.5 Stars
The audio version of Pandemonium is now available through Audible and iTunes or as an Audio CD. If you can prefer a printed book, you can purchase a print copy through your local independent bookseller, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.