Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperCollins

*This review may contain spoilers for Delirium, the first book in this series.

Lena’s love, Alex, has been killed and it’s up to Lena to figure out how to make a life for herself as an Invalid in the Wilds. She meets a group of Invalids who take her in and soon she belongs with them, to the point where she begins to feel like she has a family again. But life in the Wilds is never rosy, and soon Lena joins the resistance – to fight for what she believes in. As part of her assignment, she attends a huge pro-cure rally – and that is where things in her life get even crazier than she ever imagined.

Pandemonium starts off with a bang and the reader is pulled into the action immediately, so if you are fuzzy on the details of Delirium, you may have a difficult time catching up. I did myself the favor of rereading Delirium right before picking up this book, and I’m so glad I did – otherwise I would have been SO lost. I was a little nervous about not loving this book as much as I did its predecessor, but I shouldn’t have been worried about that because Lauren Oliver really delivered everything I was hoping she would with Pandemonium.

Lena as a character is everything I loved about her in the first book, plus quite a bit more spunk and courage. Alex’s death has hardened her, has made her unafraid of what life can throw her way, and it’s also made her realize that she’s stronger, emotionally and physically, than she thought she was. This puts her in the unique position to be able to risk almost everything for the cause she believes passionately in, and it creates this incredibly interesting dynamic in the novel. For most of the book I thought the side of her that was so affected by her mother’s death and falling in love with Alex was extinguished, but events that happen towards the end of the novel brought the softer side of Lena back to light. I loved the balance of tough and soft with her character, and I’m really hoping that continues throughout the last book of this trilogy.

Pandemonium is told in alternating chapters set in two different time periods: then – the time right after Lena crossed over to the Wilds, and now – the time after she’s joined the resistance and lives in disguise in New York. I thought writing the story in this way was absolutely genius because it gives the reader ample opportunity to understand how Lena got into the resistance without spending too much time on potentially boring details. It worked perfectly for me.

I am not sure how else to say that I loved Pandemonium and I think Oliver stepped up her game even more with this novel than with its predecessor. This is an exciting, thought-provoking, unique dystopian series and I highly recommend you give it a try.