kari's Reviews > Pandemonium

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
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Aug 06, 13

bookshelves: 2012, ya
Read in March, 2012

A very very VERY begrudging two stars. I'd give it a one, but I reserve those for books I truly loathe and I just dislike this one.
So.
I have grown tired of poorly created dystopian worlds that exist not to make us think, but only as a prop for.... what do you think it will be?
Guess.
Guess.
I dare you.
Yeah, we are there yet again. In the ubiquitous love triangle. So manufactured and so terribly unneccessary and really, can these authors think of nothing else to add tension to a story or, I should say, to lengthen a story?
Again, too much of this book is wandering in the Wilds, in the cold, in the snow, and some of the things make no sense. They have no eating utensils. None. So they eat with their hands. They have plates, cooking pots, they even have metal traps for hunting but not a single spoon or fork. And so I am stuck on that. Why? I think they could find some small tree branch, whittle a bowl shape at one end and you've got a spoon. Surely while they are sitting around in the evenings, someone could be creating some spoons. It just seemed stupid.
And again, if you are creating this world, kindly explain it. WHY did the government decide love was a disease? How did this happen? To say, here is this world, but never explain anything about it, well, that feels like lazy writing. It feels like a child stamping their feet and declaring "because I said so" rather than crafting an intelligently thought-out society. Yes, outlawing love in general makes absolutley no sense and because of that, the author needs to sell it to me with everything she has that it does in some way make sense to the leaders of this world.
There are small things that I feel were put there to make you think there is some weird sexual obsession by the government, but that goes nowhere. Example page 50: "I hurry to the metal detector and unload my bag, then stand with arms and legs splayed while a man sweeps impassively with the wand over my breasts and between my legs." As I read this, I was thinking this is so ridiculous. She could have a weapon in her boot or up her sleeve or tucked in the back waistband of her pants, but as long as she doesn't shove it in her crotch or between her breasts, they'll never find it. What is so scary that they have to scan breasts and between the legs? How about simply saying "... while a man sweeps impassively with the wand over every inch of my body." That would at the very least make sense and not put the message that somehow women's private areas have become the things about which safety experts are the most concerned. What is the point of saying it that way?
There is also this which bugged me enough that I went back to reference it.
Description of Julian: "There is a long thin gash that runs from his eyebrow to his jaw..."
Description of Alex: "... a scar runs from his eyebrow all the way down to his jaw."
Hmmm. Just bothered me. Oh, well.
What I liked best about the first book is completely gone from this one. First, I really thought the chapter headings being reading from The Book of SHHH and others added a lot of understanding and entertainment to the first book. None of that is in this one.
Second, I applauded the fact that we didn't have a love triangle. Well, folks, I spoke too soon. As I've said, this entire book is nothing more than a set-up for the third book which is going to be all about the triangle.
I also didn't care for the way the story is told in this one, with chapters titled Now and Then as the story goes back and forth between Lena's arrival in the Wilds and her life later in Brooklyn. There wasn't any reason for this, particularly as the Then portion just ends without actually linking up with the Now. And most of the Then is just about how she learns to live in the Wilds and could have really been perhaps one chapter. Again, though, if you're going to write a trilogy instead of one decent book, you've got to fill those pages somehow.
The new love feels nothing so much as contrived. Yes I know there will be other readers who will say how much they love Julian and isn't he wonderful. But, in my opinion, the whole relationship feels forced. It's as if the author most of all wanted a new relationship (can't have a triangle without a new guy, after all) so she found a way to force Lena to spend time alone with a cute boy and let the longing glances begin. Really? It feels false. Or perhaps her feelings for either of these guys are nothing special as this is the first straight boy she's been alone with since Alex.
And speaking of Alex, Lena just moves on. Oh, yes, she is heartbroken and woebegone, but let's face it, she forgets him in a short minute. She knows that what she's been told, that those who violate the law, aren't always immediately executed. She knows this is untrue by seeing it with her own eyes, not a rumor, not a maybe. She knows because her own mother was assumed dead, but was in fact locked up for ten years.
But Lena just trips along in the forest with the notion that Alex, whom she loved and adored and who risked his life for her, is surely dead. How? She makes not even one single attempt to find out if he has somehow survived. She. Moves. On.
How are you going to sell me on how much she loves him if she can't even be bothered to check and see if he's gone?
And guess what?
So, buckle your seat belts for love triangle #4,856,823.
Seriously disappointed.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 51) (51 new)


Wafiyah Nah, love triangle #4,856,823 was way back when. This is more like #6,587,948.

I got the book but I've decided to read it next year, right before reading the last book. If there's anything I hate, it's a love triangle. I loved Delirium but I have a feeling I'll really dislike this book.

Great review, your thoughts are helpful. :)


kari Yes, you are right. My estimate was likely quite low. I wanted so much more for this series than just another plain old love triangle. And all the things I liked about the first book are completely missing here and it is mostly the love story and now will be the triangle. Oh well. I still like her writing style and use of words, but I feel that she could do better than this.


Marie e This. This is exactly my issue with the novel. I expected much more of Lauren Oliver after reading her first two novels. I wanted her to be bold by either killing off Alex and showing Lena moving on with her life (at a less forced pace) or have Lena go through one book trying to find Alex and then have them reunite at the end. I feel the love triangle cheapens what could have been a truly poignant and unique story. Oh well, here comes yet another love triangle...


kari Marie wrote: "e This. This is exactly my issue with the novel. I expected much more of Lauren Oliver after reading her first two novels. I wanted her to be bold by either killing off Alex and showing Lena moving..."

I absolutely agree. I thought the second book would be her attempt to find him and fight back, but nope, she just goes on as if she doesn't actually know that he might survive. And she does know this is possible because of finding her mother alive after all those years.
Yep, just a triangle to cheapen all of it. I agree, I expected more, too.


Zero vi Britannia L-love triangle? Another YA love triangle? Damn.


kari Zero vi Britannia wrote: "L-love triangle? Another YA love triangle? Damn."

Yep. Sadly, just another plain old triangle, and one that feels forced, too.


Zero vi Britannia kari wrote: "Zero vi Britannia wrote: "L-love triangle? Another YA love triangle? Damn."

Yep. Sadly, just another plain old triangle, and one that feels forced, too."


A forced love triangle?
*shakes head*


kari Zero vi Britannia wrote: "kari wrote: "Zero vi Britannia wrote: "L-love triangle? Another YA love triangle? Damn."

Yep. Sadly, just another plain old triangle, and one that feels forced, too."

A forced love triangle?
*sh..."


There was just so much more she could have done. Another useless triangle.


message 9: by Audrey (new)

Audrey Thanks for the comments. You actually make me want to read the book now.


message 10: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari Audrey wrote: "Thanks for the comments. You actually make me want to read the book now."

I hope you'll enjoy it. Even though I didn't like the whole triangle plot, I do still enjoy the writing style. Thanks for the comment.


Caroline Just finished this yesterday, and I agree with you about the triangle seeming forced and gimmicky. I'm going with it, and I did enjoy Pandemonium, but I also could have been very happy without a triangle, maybe happier. I'm no fan of wimpy Julian. Here's hoping Requiem is a redeeming conclusion to this trilogy.


Caroline Oh, and that's funny what you said about the utensils, because that's another small thing that I also got hung up on. They have plates and pots and pans but not utensils. WTF? :D


message 13: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari Caroline wrote: "Just finished this yesterday, and I agree with you about the triangle seeming forced and gimmicky. I'm going with it, and I did enjoy Pandemonium, but I also could have been very happy without a tr..."

I hope so, too. I dearly hope the last book isn't all triangle. There is so much more going on and so much about the world she's build that's intriguing, I'd hate for it to all be wasted on nothing more than teen angst.


message 14: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari Caroline wrote: "Oh, and that's funny what you said about the utensils, because that's another small thing that I also got hung up on. They have plates and pots and pans but not utensils. WTF? :D"

Yeah, that whole utensils thing just really bugged me. I mean, two sticks and at least you'd have some rudimentary chopsticks. And they can't steal or make any utensils? This just seems silly to me and could have been completely left out.


message 15: by Caroline (last edited Feb 21, 2013 06:35AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Caroline Kari, check out Stacia's early review of Requiem. It ain't good. :( LMK if you can't find it.


message 16: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari I will try to find it.


message 17: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari Caroline wrote: "Kari, check out Stacia's early review of Requiem. It ain't good. :( LMK if you can't find it."

Hmmm. I've read Stacia's review and all I can say from reading it is that it appears that perhaps Ms. Oliver has decided three books wasn't enough? I don't think I'm going to enjoy that one much. Another series that started out so well and then failed.


Caroline kari wrote: "Caroline wrote: "Kari, check out Stacia's early review of Requiem. It ain't good. :( LMK if you can't find it."

Hmmm. I've read Stacia's review and all I can say from reading it is that it appears..."


Agree. I stated as much in Stacia's comments section, but I think Oliver lost her footing with the story. I just asked whether those who read Requiem think there's a possibility for a fourth book.


message 19: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari Caroline wrote: "kari wrote: "Caroline wrote: "Kari, check out Stacia's early review of Requiem. It ain't good. :( LMK if you can't find it."

Hmmm. I've read Stacia's review and all I can say from reading it is th..."


From reading the review it seems that a total of nothing is wrapped up.


Nicole What really destroyed me was going back and forth with then Now and then chapters. I felt it made it impossible for character development.


message 21: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari Nicole wrote: "What really destroyed me was going back and forth with then Now and then chapters. I felt it made it impossible for character development."

OH, good call. I didn't even think of that, but you are right. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be any growth since Lena remained the same throughout, at least to me. I was so disappointed that she was never able to put aside her own needs for the good of anyone but herself. Raven, who was much tougher than Lena, was capable of caring for someone else as much as herself. Lena never did that. I thought the Then portion really didn't add anything to the story. I didn't feel that I knew Lena better nor did I understand the resistance any better. Such a disappointment as the first book in this series showed so much promise.


message 22: by TL (new) - rated it 3 stars

TL any dystopian recs that don't have a focus on love triangle? great review right btw.. i always like reading yours


message 23: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari Terri wrote: "any dystopian recs that don't have a focus on love triangle? great review right btw.. i always like reading yours"

Thanks. I really like the Divergent series which hasn't had a whiff of a triangle, but the second book Tris does become a far too self-sacrificing for my taste, but it is still better than most.
For one single book, read Code Name Verity. One of the best books I've read. It is about girls during WWII, a flyer and a spy. Very good, but starts off a slow pace. Also The Fault in Our Stars is a stand alone and is wonderful as are John Green's other books.


Caroline Another I'd recommend to Terri is Unwind. Have you read that, Kari? So good. No love triangle, but a nicely developed, BACKGROUND romance that works within the overall story.


message 25: by kari (last edited Apr 26, 2013 08:04AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari Caroline (Humblebee77) wrote: "Another I'd recommend to Terri is Unwind. Have you read that, Kari? So good. No love triangle, but a nicely developed, BACKGROUND romance that works within the overall story."

OMG. Unwind. One of the very best. Scary and exciting and yes, a romance that works. Have you read Unwholly? I can't think of any character about whom I've had such mixed feelings. So well done.


Caroline Kari, I have yet to get to Unwholly. I'm so annoyed. I was so sure I'd go RIGHT to it after finishing Unwind, which I finished, I think, back in January, but then all these other books got in the way (like Requiem). Now I'm also overrun with a bunch of ARCs, which should be quick to get through, but still.

This is not YA, but have you ever read The Passage, Kari? I really loved that. It impressed me so much. That's another one whose sequel I have not gotten around to reading, though, which is astounding to me considering The Passage is one of my top twenty favorite books EVER. Now, though, I'm thinking I might actually wait to read that sequel until the third and final book comes out so I don't have to worry about forgetting details between the books. If I didn't have so many other books I want to read, I'd just reread The Passage, but that's not going to happen. Fortunately, I think I remember most of it, though. I hate how long it takes for the next in a series/trilogy to be published, though.


message 27: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari I will definitely put that on my TBR list and probably wait until the last one is about ready. Sounds really good though.


Caroline The description doesn't even begin to do it justice. Seriously.


message 29: by TL (new) - rated it 3 stars

TL kari wrote: "Terri wrote: "any dystopian recs that don't have a focus on love triangle? great review right btw.. i always like reading yours"

Thanks. I really like the Divergent series which hasn't had a whiff..."


i love the Divergent series! thanks for the other recs :)


message 30: by TL (new) - rated it 3 stars

TL Caroline (Humblebee77) wrote: "Another I'd recommend to Terri is Unwind. Have you read that, Kari? So good. No love triangle, but a nicely developed, BACKGROUND romance that works within the overall story."

thanks Caroline :)


message 31: by TL (new) - rated it 3 stars

TL Caroline (Humblebee77) wrote: "Kari, I have yet to get to Unwholly. I'm so annoyed. I was so sure I'd go RIGHT to it after finishing Unwind, which I finished, I think, back in January, but then all these other books got in the w..."

is the passage gory? don't love reading books with lots of gore thrown in (sometimes it seems that authors throw it in for shock value instead of it going with the story)


message 32: by Caroline (last edited Apr 27, 2013 04:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Caroline Terri, I'm sensitive to gore but didn't find anything in The Passage to be off-putting. I hate when authors add gore just for shock value, but Cronin didn't do that. He really is such an expert storyteller; everything he sets in motion is for a reason, no character is extraneous or undeveloped, no questions left unanswered--and the world-building! The world-building will blow you away. I truly could not put the book down.

/tangent :)


message 33: by TL (new) - rated it 3 stars

TL Caroline wrote: "Terri, I'm sensitive to gore but didn't find anything in The Passage to be off-putting. I hate when authors add gore just for shock value, but Cronin didn't do that. He really is such an expert sto..."

thanks :)


message 34: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari Caroline wrote: "Terri, I'm sensitive to gore but didn't find anything in The Passage to be off-putting. I hate when authors add gore just for shock value, but Cronin didn't do that. He really is such an expert sto..."

That sounds really well done. I will be reading that one for sure. I love when you can see the need for each and every character and event. That's good writing.
Everything in a story should be necessary.


message 35: by Caroline (last edited Apr 29, 2013 07:03AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Caroline I really hope you love it as much as I did, Kari. Strong world-building and characters are so important to me--as I know they are to you too. Cronin's writing credentials are really strong, and it shows. I should add that it's a BIG book and has been likened to The Stand--but not because of its length, because it's not as long as The Stand, more because of its scope and many layers, I think; I never read The Stand--so just be forewarned. I recommended The Passage to another friend, and she didn't realize how big a book it is. The good news is it hooks you from the start and has more than a few twists. I can't even imagine how much work Cronin put into it. O.O THIS is how you do post-apocalyptic/dystopian.


message 36: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari Caroline wrote: "I really hope you love it as much as I did, Kari. Strong world-building and characters are so important to me--as I know they are to you too. Cronin's writing credentials are really strong, and it ..."

Okay. Still sounds good. I've read some of Stephen King's books and those can be TOMES! I love King's writing, but his endings just leave me flat or at least his books that I have read, can't say they are all that way.
I will definitely move this up on the list.


Caroline Agree with you about King. I've read four of his books, one of which was non-fiction (On Writing), and that might actually be my favorite! It's half auto-biography and half REALLY great writing advice. Out of those four, I disliked just one--The Long Walk. Talk about undeveloped world-building! I won't go into it here, because I wrote a review about it already. But the ending in that is bad too. I really felt that book was a waste of my time.


message 38: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari Caroline wrote: "Agree with you about King. I've read four of his books, one of which was non-fiction (On Writing), and that might actually be my favorite! It's half auto-biography and half REALLY great writing adv..."

I really liked the book 11/22/63, but the ending was just off for me. That thing was well over 800 pages. I read Tommyknockers, too and it was over 700 with also a poor ending. FOr that many pages I want a good pay-off. LOL


message 39: by Caroline (last edited May 01, 2013 11:56AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Caroline kari wrote: "I really liked the book 11/22/63, but the ending was just off for me. That thing was well over 800 pages. I read Tommyknockers, too and it was over 700 with also a poor ending. FOr that many pages I want a good pay-off. LOL"

11/22/63 is on my TBR, but I'm NOT happy to hear that about the ending. >:[ Have you read his Under the Dome? It's supposed to be good, and the t.v. show is coming very soon. Sorry for getting us off track again. Back to Pandemonium!


message 40: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari Caroline wrote: "kari wrote: "I really liked the book 11/22/63, but the ending was just off for me. That thing was well over 800 pages. I read Tommyknockers, too and it was over 700 with also a poor ending. FOr tha..."

It's fine. I haven't read Under the Dome. NOt sure I have the energy for another of his lengthy books which invariably let me down at the end. I do think he is a brilliant writer but his endings are always so . . . meh. After investing that much time in reading I want to feel satisfied at the end, not like I'm missing some pages. lol


Alwaystheend Thank you!!


message 42: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari You're welcome. I guess you didn't love this one either.


Mónica Spot on. Also, I was way too distracted by two obvious mistakes relatively early on in the book. Although during that first meal in the Wilds Lena is laughed at for expecting utensils and is told to dig in with her hands, at a later meal Lena mentions digging in ravenously with her fork. I had to read that sentence several times to make sure I hadn't misread. Secondly, when Tack leaves Lena at the rally after shoving the umbrella in her hand, she excuses himself saying that he needs to go catch up with Rebecca, even though Raven's name in Brooklyn is Rachel. I kept expecting this to lead to a twist of some kind, where Tack was giving Lena some sort of clue, but no. Just a mistake. About one of the main characters' names. No biggie.


Nicole Chisari I agree with you about the world-building. I just don't understand why the government outlawed love; in addition, there are several descriptions about how zombie-like the cured ones are because they don't show much emotion. So if there is not really any emotion, why does society even still function? If you don't really care about anyone else or yourself, wouldn't society crumble?


Nicole Chisari Also, I'm irritated that, in a society where Lena, Julian, etc. are growing up with no description or concept of love, they can so quickly say they love each other. AFTER A FEW DAYS. WITH NO KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT LOVE IS OR FEELS LIKE.


message 46: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari Mónica wrote: "Spot on. Also, I was way too distracted by two obvious mistakes relatively early on in the book. Although during that first meal in the Wilds Lena is laughed at for expecting utensils and is told t..."

OH, I missed those. I usually am stuck when that happens. Maybe Lena found a fork lying around out in the Wilds! LOL


message 47: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari Nicole wrote: "Also, I'm irritated that, in a society where Lena, Julian, etc. are growing up with no description or concept of love, they can so quickly say they love each other. AFTER A FEW DAYS. WITH NO KNOWLE..."

Yep, all of that simply makes no sense. If there is no love in your world, no one even mentions love, how would you then know that is what you feel? I think, according to this world, you would instead think you have a disease and nothing more. And the whole premise of love as a disease, love to be eliminated . . . why?


Nicole Chisari Yes, and also, there are several mentions of how zombie-like the cureds are...so there seems to be an absence of other emotions as well, which leads me to the question, How can this society even function? For example, if one of the cureds invents an antibiotic for some kind of flu or whatever, and there is no compassion for his fellow human being, why would he ever release it? Wouldn't everyone just take care of themselves and be selfish?


message 49: by kari (new) - rated it 2 stars

kari Nicole wrote: "Yes, and also, there are several mentions of how zombie-like the cureds are...so there seems to be an absence of other emotions as well, which leads me to the question, How can this society even fu..."

I think that's a very good point. Without love or compassion(which I would argue is a part of love) why would you even care about anyone but yourself? How could children be raised if you don't care about them? It makes no sense at all. And if any emotion could be eliminated, why not eliminate hate?


Maria I was fine with her moving on after Alex's 'death', really. And even if he hadn't died, I would have loved to see them break up over some minior thing. It would be nice to see a YA protagonist not ending up with the first guy who happened upon her.


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