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The old Lena is dead. The old Lena remains with Alex in Portland, Maine, behind a wall of smoke and flame, but the new Lena was born in the Wilds, transformed by hardship, deprivation, and loss. Now an active member of the resistance, Lena fights for a world in which love will no longer be considered a dangerous disease. Her inner life is as turbulent as the world around her...although consumed with grief for Alex, might she be falling in love with someone else?
If you thought Lena was strong in Delirium, wait until you read Pandemonium. She's forced to live in the wilderness with other people who have escaped the mandatory cure for love, known as "amor delirium nervosa" and when she first arrives she's in pretty bad shape due to the circumstances surrounding her crossing over the fence. I love that throughout the book she continues to stay true to herself, even in a world that has become cruel and unforgiving. There are so many secondary characters that enhance this book; most important of all is Raven. She is sort of the den mother for the little clan that finds Lena barely hanging on to life in the woods. Raven is very strong, tenacious, and a natural leader; she never coddles Lena, preferring instead to make her strong and prepare her for the harsh world that she now lives in. The other people in the Wilds all have an impact on her as well and we get to know them mostly through her memories. The other character that bears mentioning is Julian, the young man who is on the complete opposite side of the fence (literally and figuratively) as Lena. He stands for the importance of curing the "disease" and when we are introduced to him he is just days away from going through the procedure himself. It was very interesting to get to know him and see how his character changed throughout the story. I found myself really growing to love him by the end.
This book is separated into "then" and "now" chapters. "Then" refers to Lena's time in the Wilds, from when she first stepped foot in them to when she joins the resistance; "now" refers to her current resistance undercover mission. I'm not sure how I feel about the back and forth of it. In some books this works very well, but I'm not sure it was necessary in this case. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had just progressed chronologically. That's not to say that I had trouble getting through this book, because that would be a lie. I flew through the pages; I just couldn't wait to see what happened next.
Yes there is an element of romance, but I refuse to give you any juicy details in that department. It's something you'll just have to read about for yourself. Obviously you can deduce who this new love interest might be from what I've already said; at first I as skeptical, because I couldn't imagine Lena with anyone but Alex. However, I found myself falling for this new man, even liking him more than I did Alex. I know, that's crazy right? Just read it you'll see what I mean.
This book really impressed me. Delirium was lacking a certain something for me, but Pandemonium was absolutely amazing. There was a great attention to detail and the a lot of care was given to character development, which I always appreciate; without wonderful characters, there is no story. The ending did leave a bit of a cliffhanger, although that is to be expected with series such as this. I am very much looking for the next installment and give huge kudos to Lauren Oliver for delving another stunning book!