Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver is the second book in the Delirium series.  As such, this post is likely to have spoilers for the first book so reader beware.

As we begin Pandemonium, Lena has escaped into the Wilds:

I run, and when I can no longer run, I limp, and when I can't do that, I crawl, inch by inch, digging my fingernails into the soil, like a worm sliding across the overgrown surface of this strange new wilderness.

Lena is alone and dying on the forest floor when she is found by Raven.  Raven takes Lena back to her homestead, a basement she has discovered buried under the ruins of a bombed-out building.  There, Lena is allowed to recover from her injuries and be fed, but it isn't long before she is expected to help.  Lena is surprised to find that the people who live in the Wilds aren't what she has always been taught they would be.  They are kind and they do the best they can; they work together to survive.  Eventually, Lena, Raven and Tack, another new friend, join the resistance to fight against the government that has forced them to live outside civilization.

In the spirit of Hunger Games, Lena is much like Katniss in that she becomes strong when her only other choice is to die.  This isn't one of those obnoxious books where the main character is a weak, simpering young girl dependent upon those around her.  Lena learns quickly and becomes quite a leader.  I mentioned in my post about Delirium that I enjoyed that this book is set in a world not unlike our own.  In this second installment this is expressed even further in that the challenges Lena and her friends face in the Wilds are much like those any of us would face if we were to suddenly be left with nothing but the clothes on our backs.  Survival in the Wilds means hunting, scavenging for shelter and supplies and staying alive from one day to the next.  Occasionally they are confronted by other people from the Wilds that are intent upon causing destruction and they are always watching for government regulators who have come in to the Wilds looking to exterminate the "Invalids".  That is what I like- there are no monsters, no supernatural forces at work.  They are fighting for their lives mostly against nature.  It is refreshing in a literary pool full of the former.

As a rule, the second book in a trilogy tends to be more of a bridge connecting the beginning of the story in the first book to the end in the last, but in this case, I felt like Pandemonium really held its own.  And now my favorite quote from this book:

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.

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