5 out of 5 stars on Ordinary People, Extraordinary Works
It is not an easy task to follow up a hard-hitter like DELIRIUM, but Lauren Oliver manages to have her characters grow stronger, create scenarios that are new yet relate to what was important in the first book, and delivers a sequel that will leave readers in awe. At the end of DELIRIUM, Lena finds herself outside of the life she’s always known, living in what is known as The Wilds. Imprinted in her brain are the final moments with Alex in a scene reminiscent of Romeo & Juliet.
From the start, PANDEMONIUM uses a back-and-forth style, going between Then and Now. Then is seconds after her escape. Now is Lena’s involvement in a resistance group of Invalids, who attempt to re-infiltrate those who are Cured and whose goal is to start a revolution. While I found myself wary at the two paths taken, Oliver writes in such a way that despite being in two different periods of Lena’s life, the words run together smoothly and there is definitely no strings of confusion to be had. The action is fast-paced, building and building with each passing chapter. Lena finds a slew of new characters and moves with them, taking in days and nights of secrets, and she learns that not everything can be learned by being told and not everything is obvious.
While the plot itself is exciting, what I believe to be the most awe-inspiring part of this book is the growth that occurs in Lena. With the situations she has had to face, it’s no surprise that her thoughts are changing even more than in her original story. She is learning the ways of a “real world” and questions everything – whether she was once taught it or not. As in any story told in first person, the main character’s thoughts can either make or break a book, especially in chaotic circumstances such as the ones Lena navigates. Part of me wonders if Oliver has somehow lived this world of Lena’s without a sense of free love because Lena’s perception of relationships and herself are so vivid:
“I wonder if this is how people always get close: they heal each other’s wounds; they repair the broken skin.”
Lena is stronger, smarter, and is willing to fight for what she believes in. While those are characteristics found in her character during the first book, she is able to spread her wings even more in PANDEMONIUM (even if that particular phrase is more than a bit cliche). There are new friends and foes but everyone introduced plays an important part in Lena’s life – though, whether it’s from her past, present, or future sometimes remains to be seen.
PANDEMONIUM is a sequel that may perhaps be better than its predecessor, which speaks highly for Lauren Oliver’s talent of crafting plots and writing brilliantly. Readers should prepare themselves for a painful wait for the third and final book in the trilogy as this particular sequel leads into an explosion of possibilities.