Sunday, April 29, 2012

Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Pages: 375
Author: Lauren Oliver
Add It: Goodreads
Series: Delirium (#2)
Publisher: Harper Teen

I have grown into somewhat of a diehard Lauren Oliver fan. I just like everything she does. That is basically my entire review for the novella Hana: I just like everything Lauren Oliver does. Guess what? That was a lie. I didn’t like this that much.

Okay, I liked it. That’s what a three star rating means to me: I liked it but there was something missing or something wrong. I expected better of this book. I spent a great deal of the book bored. It took me awhile to finish this. I felt completely detached from Lena’s story for most of the book. I really didn’t like the choice to split the book into Then and Now. I can see why she chose to tell the story that way, but it was like reading two completely different books, and I just kept finding myself annoyed that when I would finally get into what was happening in one section I had to read about the other.

I enjoyed all of the side characters in the Then story. I enjoyed reading about Lena’s interactions with them and the struggle of living among the Invalids. Oliver certainly knows how to make the feeling of grief tackle you from the pages of her story, dragging you down until you feel it right alongside her heroine. Much of Before was rife with emotion. Raven’s story in particular was especially harrowing and beautiful.

I enjoyed Now’s story much less. It felt too plain to me. It didn’t do anything to stand out from the many other dystopian novels on the shelves. There was just something about it that felt like I’d read it all before, and not even Lauren’s gorgeous prose could save it for me. I also didn’t buy the romance between Lena and Julian. I liked it only because Oliver seemed to be allowing Lena to move on instead of the usual in YA in which One True Love is all our heroine gets, but the relationship between them seemed to only be formed by proximity and chaos, and it didn’t feel entirely genuine to me. It seemed like Lena was falling for him when she wasn’t completely over Alex, instead of giving herself time to properly grieve and move on, which will only allow room for the [spoiler: dreaded love triangle] later on.

The book ended in a cliffhanger that I found predictable and very disappointing. I also have begun to grow a specific hatred for books that so obviously end in a cliffhanger this way, and it did nothing to improve my feelings toward the book. I really hope that the conclusion to this series is satisfying. If anyone can get it back on track it’s Lauren Oliver.


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