"In approved places, every story serves a purpose. But forbidden books are so much more. Some of them are webs; you can feel your way along their threads, but just barely, into strange and dark corners. Some of them are balloons bobbing up through the sky: totally self-contained, and unreachable, but beautiful to watch.
And some of them- the best ones- are doors." What a wonderful follow up novel to Lauren Oliver’s dystopian, Delirium. Where many sequels flounder or just fall flat, Pandemonium delivers and grows on its predecessor. The novel is split into alternating chapters of “then” and “now”. The “then” chapters complete the tale of what happens to Lena after Delirium finishes and she is fighting to escape and survive in the Wilds without Alex. The “now” chapters show Lena back in society as a Resistance agent.
Delirium left you on such a cliffhanger, I needed to know what happened next. Oliver managed to deliver a sequel where she strung you out the entire book before giving that information. Normally this is something that would have left me twitchy and irritated, however the book is just that good I never once felt exasperated at all. What you get is a book that isn’t shy of being harsh and painful. It makes you think twice about about how we behave as individuals and shows the strength and resiliance of humanity regardless of what is thrown at them. Where Delirium explores Lena’s growth and love, Pandemonium is about the darker emotions like hate and revenge all of which are still considered part of “the” disease, amor deliria nervosa.
"If he were less well trained, and less careful, he would say hate. But he can’t say it; it is too close to passion, and passion is too close to love, and love is amor deliria nervosa, the deadliest of all deadly things: It is the reason for the games of pretend, for the secret selves, for the spasms in the throat."
There were many scenes in this novel that deeply impacted me, often by what Oliver leaves unsaid, once scene in particular with Raven, Blue and Lena left me in tears it was so harsh and beautiful. The writing is just superb, I can’t fault it. Where Crossed so desperately tries to be poetic, deep and meaningful and falls short at the mark, Pandemonium delivers in spades. The story and writing is fluid, soulful you really empathise with the characters and can feel the hopelessness and uphill battle of trying to change their society.
Lena really grows in this novel, she states that the old Lena is dead and in some ways this definitely feels true. The new Lena is much tougher after surviving the wilds and joining the resistance. She at times seems numb and dead due to the shock of losing Alex and her entire way of life. There are a few new secondary characters introduced who are well done and really enhance Lena’s journey through the Wilds and I can’t not mention Julian, her new love interest. I wanted to dislike him, I really did but I just couldn’t. Julian, like Lena is all about discovery, growth and acceptance that they are different to the rest of their society. He is sweet, he is genuine and I really felt for him and could see the love blossoming between them even if Lena resisted and battled it.
I can’t sing this series enough praises. If you haven’t read Delirium yet, please go pick it up and get as hooked on it as I am. Pandemonium is a wonderful sequel and I am on tenterhooks just waiting to see how everything comes together in the final book!(less)
"She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now, but she didn’t know what to do about it. This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing."
"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well."
Wow, what a commanding start to a novel. That opening sentence hooked me in, it set the bar high and boy does Laini Taylor deliver! Daughter of Smoke and Bone tears down the common formula for paranormal romance and sets a new standard. Based in Prague you meet Karou the azure haired girl an aloof art student by day and mysterious errand girl for the chimaera named Brimstone by night. While she is human, Karou was raised by Brimstone and some of his colleagues in his workshop hidden “elsewhere” accessible only through portals disguised as doorways. Brimstone tells her nothing, everything is a secret and Karou is raised a lonely girl who feels separate from humanity and with no clue as to how she ended up under Brimstone’s care. All this changes when by complete chance she encounters Akiva on one of her mysterious errands and her world starts to come apart.
The world building in this book is phenomenal. I’ve never been to Prague but I desperately want to go after reading countless descriptions of city scenery this being one such example:
"The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century—or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies. Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red. Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks. Thugs wore Motzart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theater with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet."
Along with the beautiful descriptions of Earth, Taylor introduces Eretz a world filled with Angels and Demons and torn viciously apart by war. You can visualise this alien land so well through the story and even though the book is laden with descriptions and explanations it at no point takes away from character development.
I loved the character of Karou. She was smart, clever, witty with just a hint of sorrow. You got a real sense of her inner strength even though she is fairly reserved – definitely not a flashy heroine! I was a bit worried by Akiva initally - I thought he was going to be a little too heartless and cold to me. There is nothing I like less than a girl who fawns herself over a complete asshole. Thankfully he wasn’t like this at all and as the story progresses you really appreciate how he is actually flexible and willing to grow.
The relationship that develops between Akiva and Karou could have so easily crossed the line into creepy and unrealistic but instead its authentic and innocent. You find yourself wanting it to work out for them against all the odds. Taylor shifts this story between both their perspectives and it really helps strengthen the realism in their growing love for one another. It’s hard to go into their relationship without giving too much of the story away but you do believe that these two are destined to be together and to do great things for the fate of 2 races and 2 worlds.
I also loved the fact that there is no clear cut good and evil in this book and that war isn’t anything to be glamorized instead its something that literally consumes both sides and everyone loses out:
"Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?
While this sounds like a standard Young Adult romance it truly isn’t. The story changes about half way through when Karou learns the answers to just a few of Brimstone’s secrets and it almost feels like you are reading a different novel. This is not a story of happily ever afters even if it started with a fairytale beginning. This is a story that sends you on a whirlwind of all sorts of emotions, from grief, love, shock, betrayal and tragedy. It leaves you out of breath at the end and in complete awe. I was unable to contemplate starting another book for a good week, it took me that long to digest it.
I find myself recommending this book to everyone I know. While the story resolves itself and leaves the reader feeling complete, the ending is still a cliffhanger and I can’t wait for 2nd novel – Days of Blood and Starlight to be released in late 2012. I read this book in January 2012 and I won’t be surprised if in December this year I still list this as one of the best books I read in 2012. This book deserved its 5/5 stars and then some.(less)
"Our purpose on this earth is not one single event, an accomplishment we can check off a list. There is no test. No passing or failing. There's only us, each moment shaping who we are, into what we will become."
Sigh, what a beautiful novel. Hallowed is the 2nd installment of the Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand and follows Clara, a part angel on her journey to fulfill her purpose on earth. This isn't a fast paced book, but the lack of intrigue and action is greatly made up by its solid characters and strong, well constructed relationships.
This book continues where Unearthly left off with Clara purposefully choosing to fail her purpose by choosing to save Tucker and now working out how to deal with Christian and the fact that he is also an angel blood. While dealing with that she also has her new relationship with Tucker and a majorly pissed off Black Wing who could return at anytime. The love triangle between Christian, Clara and Tucker is a very central part to this book but the triangle is done well - you can really understand and empathise with the wavering feelings Clara has throughout the book.
When I finished Unearthly I thought Tucker and Clara were absolutely perfect together, if you had told me that Christian was in anyway a contender I would have flat out laughed. Here I am now seriously wanting her to somehow magically get to have both guys because Christian didn't just grow on me in this book I totally love him - he is so perfect in such a completely different way to Tucker. I have no idea how this triangle is going to pan out but I think I'm going to be sad one way or another!
Aside from show casing a strong love triangle, Hand also delves deep into the mother, daughter relationship and I'm not sure whether its because I quite recently lost my own mother, but I found this relationship beautifully depicted. I found out when reading the acknowledgments that Hand was pregnant with her baby daughter while writing this novel and I think all those pregancy hormones definitely kicked in and helped her deliver a wonderful, emotionally driven story. I sincerely hope she has as strong a relationship with her daughter as Clara and her mother have in this book - I loved reading every minute of it even though it was so incredibly sad.
This is not an easy book to read at times, infact the depth of emotion and sadness that I felt in parts made this in some ways a hard read even though I rated it so highly. I wouldn't reccomend this to someone who is after something fun filled, this book definitely requires tissues though please don't let it deter you from an phenomenal series!(less)
“In the end you can’t always choose what to keep. You can only choose how you let it go.”
Before I start on Crossed, a little bit of background on my thoughts on Matched, the first book in this trilogy. I read a lot of mixed reviews for Matched, and things that other reviewers disliked about it were things that I actually relished and enjoyed about the story. Condie’s writing of this dystopian world is slow paced and has a mysterious undercurrent of wrongness about the society that just builds your anticipation as to how its all going to play out. I also quite liked Cassia and could understand her reasons and motivations through the storyline overall I thought it was a very solid book and was really interested to see what happened in the sequel.
Crossed starts out in a very different place. Ky has been sent to the outer provinces and Cassia is determined to find him. I was really looking forward to their journey to one another yet the way they were brought together was just unrealistic and implausible to say the least. Cassia manages to by complete fluke hop on an airship that magically takes her to the area that Ky was sent to. And then manages to escape without any planning or difficulties even though Ky only just managed to himself and no one has survived previously??? I just couldn’t buy it.
The book is written from both Ky and Cassia’s perspective as they journey to find one another, which sounds romantic and like it would build your anticipation. Unfortunately I found it jarring and really felt that it took from the overall story instead of adding to it. Amongst the unrealistic plot is a lot of poetry and prose which I thought was quite heavy handed and instead of me feeling the love between these two, I just got irritated by it and found myself skimming over those parts. Seriously I know teenagers have a lot of angst but considering both Cassia and Ky are written as quite intelligent individuals man do they have real emo tendencies!
There are also a couple of new characters introduced into the story who journey with Ky and Cassia respectively and I’m not really sure what their purpose was other to ensure that neither of them when journeying in the middle of the desert alone. Indie in particular had a lot of promise and I’m hoping that she is explored a bit further in the final novel.
Where the first book gave you good insight into the society, Crossed delves more into those opposing the society including the Resistance which is what Cassia and Indie want to join. Finding out about the resistance and the farmers plus some of the back story into the society was what I enjoyed most about this story and I’m very interested to find out how they all play together in the final installment of the trilogy – Reached.
Overall I found this an incredibly dissapointing sequel and while I will read the series to conclusion, my expectations aren’t particularly high.(less)