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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Debut
Pandemonium is Daryl Gregory's first book-length work to be published, and to my thinking it's the single best debut novel I've read in years. The back cover blurb doesn't even begin to do this book justice. This is the story of Del Pierce, a guy who dreamed of being an artist and whose dreams haven't worked out quite as he planned. Del lives in America, but it isn't...
Published on September 3, 2008 by Chris Roberson

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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Idea
I liked the "idea" for the story quite a bit but I feel the execution fell a bit short due to some basic editing mistakes. I realize that sounds picky but when it comes to conveying an idea clearly, especially when dealing with very abstract concepts, editing is fairly important. The problems weren't so large though as to detract from the uniqueness of the story and...
Published on April 30, 2010 by Hard Cover


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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Debut, September 3, 2008
This review is from: Pandemonium (Paperback)
Pandemonium is Daryl Gregory's first book-length work to be published, and to my thinking it's the single best debut novel I've read in years. The back cover blurb doesn't even begin to do this book justice. This is the story of Del Pierce, a guy who dreamed of being an artist and whose dreams haven't worked out quite as he planned. Del lives in America, but it isn't quite our America. This is a world in which, for at least sixty years and possibly quite a bit longer, various individuals have, for varying lengths of time, been "possessed." By demons? Possibly. By telepathic mutant "slan" who control them at a distance? Unlikely, but not impossible. By free-roaming personalities dredged from Carl Jung's "collective unconsciousness"? Just maybe. But what does it mean that these demons/personalities/etc. so often appear in the forms of heroes from comic books and pulp novels? The Captain, shield-wielding super-soldier; the Truth, a grim avenger in fedora and trench coat, with twin .45s and a menacing laugh; the Boy Marvel, a hero in red tights and a white cape with a boyish smile. Or that another of the "demons" is called Valis and possesses an elderly science fiction writer named Philip K. Dick?

Gregory's short fiction displays certain central obsessions--a keen understanding of cognitive sciences; an interest in families and questions of relationships and maturity; and an obsession with popular culture, in the form of science fiction, superhero comics, pulp novels, etc. All of these factor into Pandemonium, to great effect. To give much more than a broad summary of the plot threatens to spoil too many of the surprises, so I won't bother. (Should I admit that the ending was so affecting that I actually teared up in Starbucks while reading it? No, perhaps not...) I can say, though, that the writing is accomplished and polished, employing a first-person voice that is deceptively conversational and familiar, but which is capable of spinning out devastatingly clever turns of phrase when needed, laugh-out-loud funny in places and knuckle-whitening-terrify in others.

Pandemonium is simply a stunning debut, and I for one can't wait to see what Gregory does next. Highly, highly recommended.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, September 24, 2008
By 
Diana R. Sherman (Mountain View, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Pandemonium (Paperback)
Pandemonium is fricking brilliant. Here's the plot summary version: As a child, Del was possessed by a demon, the Hellion, known for targeting young blond haired boys. There are many demons in this version of the US, archetypes from classic stories, comic books, etc. Del got better.

Except now he's an adult and beginning to realize that the demon never really left. Something inside of him is trying to break out and take over. He has to chain himself to his bed at night to prevent himself from destroying his home or hurting other people in his sleep. So, he goes on a quest to find a doctor who can help him, then one of the most messed up priests you could ever imagine. He runs into other demon possessed people. Almost gets killed multiple times... And finds out that things are much worse than he ever imagined.

Here's the gushing stream of consciousness version: Demons! Comic books! Possession! PK Dick! PK Dick as a demon! The nature of narrative! Reality/truth. Comic books! The Shug! Archetypes! Creative unconscious! Jung!

Daryl Gregory does something with Pandemonium that I forgot you could do with fiction. He talks pretty intense philosophy without ever once making it feel like that's what he's doing. The narrative is just so strong that you don't notice you're going over really intellectual and dense territory. Del is a strong main character, the events are completely improbable but you don't even notice it until after you've read the whole book and been utterly seduced by it.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive debut book, December 13, 2008
This review is from: Pandemonium (Paperback)
This is an impressive debut book from Daryl Gregory. The story centers around the main character, Del Pierce, and his pursuit to have his Demon exorcised. This novel reminded me of early Stephen King in which he gets you to like the main character and then messes with his life. This creates tension thoughout the novel and makes you squirm when bad things happen. Mr. Gregory's plotting is superb as the mystery to determine what is happening unfolds.

Dust Jacket Summary: It is a world like our own in every respect . . . save one. In the 1950s, random acts of possession begin to occur. Ordinary men, women, and children are the targets of entities that seem to spring from the depths of the collective unconscious, pop-cultural avatars some call demons. There's the Truth, implacable avenger of falsehood. The Captain, brave and self-sacrificing soldier. The Little Angel, whose kiss brings death, whether desired or not. And a string of others, ranging from the bizarre to the benign to the horrific.

As a boy, Del Pierce is possessed by the Hellion, an entity whose mischief-making can be deadly. With the help of Del's family and a caring psychiatrist, the demon is exorcised . . . or is it? Years later, following a car accident, the Hellion is back, trapped inside Del's head and clamoring to get out.

Del's quest for help leads him to Valis, an entity possessing the science fiction writer formerly known as Philip K. Dick; to Mother Mariette, a nun who inspires decidedly unchaste feelings; and to the Human League, a secret society devoted to the extermination of demons. All believe that Del holds the key to the plague of possession-and its solution. But for Del, the cure may be worse than the disease.

What I liked: This is an inventive novel. The idea that a demon possession can happen randomly to any person at any time is cool. In addition, there are only certain Demon archetype's such as The Painter, Kamikaze, The Captain, The Truth, etc. Each Demon has their own characteristics and their human host will perform as such. Mr. Gregory even possessed Philip K. Dick with a demon called Valis. Hilarious.

What I didn't like: Sometimes the novel is a little abrupt and it is hard to figure out where you are in the story. This is minor irritation that may have more to do with the reader (me) than the author.

Last word: This is truly a unique novel that deserves to be read.

Reviewed by Matt
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly Exceptional Novel, April 10, 2009
This review is from: Pandemonium (Paperback)
Pandemonium is one of those rare books that, after you finish it, you know you're going to read every novel this writer will ever write. The storytelling is deft and thrilling, the writing accomplished and propulsive, the characters, vivid, complex and charming, the SF invention, dazzling and utterly credible. I could go on. Pandemonium is continually surprising in the pleasures it serves up: you laugh, you think, you shudder, you cry and you're left wondering: how the hell did he do it? What a novel.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Idea, April 30, 2010
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This review is from: Pandemonium (Paperback)
I liked the "idea" for the story quite a bit but I feel the execution fell a bit short due to some basic editing mistakes. I realize that sounds picky but when it comes to conveying an idea clearly, especially when dealing with very abstract concepts, editing is fairly important. The problems weren't so large though as to detract from the uniqueness of the story and taking into account this is a debut novel, I'd imagine offerings from this author will only get better.
If you are a fan of off-beat, strange and pondersome things this is your ticket.Pandemonium is a summer evening joyride complete with the top down and the radio blaring.Cultural references abound so be prepared to smile; Gregory has a way with words that will bring your own tender memories tumbling back - and be prepared to cry because he also knows how to craft a perfect ending.
If Pandemonium is any indicator of what's to come from Daryl Gregory, then I think it's safe to say his popularity is due to rise sharply in the coming years.

I don't know if this book has been picked up for a graphic novel style treatment or is available in standard comic book format but it's a shoe-in for either pressing - I think if housed on those shelves it could become the precursor novel to a universe we haven't even imagined yet.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best science fiction/fantasy I've read in years, March 11, 2010
This review is from: Pandemonium (Paperback)
One word review: Brilliant!

This is a measure of how riveting a story is - start it in the midst of one the best Superbowl games to go down in recent history and if your eyes are still glued to the page, as mine were, then you know you've got a good one.

Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory is a dark science-fiction/fantasy story, which could be classified as horror.

Pandemonium is the best kind of a roller coaster tale from beginning to end, moving thrillingly fast, taking you this way and that so that you never know where you're going. The world Gregory has conceived, like the synopsis says, is almost like our own until the 1940s when certain key events in history changed because people started getting temporarily possessed by demons. These historical events are just a backdrop, however, for the individual story of Del, a troubled young man who fears that the demon who once possessed him as a child has come back - or worse, never left at all. Who or what exactly are the demons? Where did they come from and what is the purpose of the possessions? Del knows either he has to conquer the demon inside of him or pay with his life.

In his search for answers, he turns to a militant Irish nun (who for some reason I envisioned being played by Sinead O'Connor), a scientist on the verge of discovering the key to the demonic possessions plaguing their world, a cult called The Human League, and his family, who are still scarred from the chaos of Del's first possession as a child. I love the very real, often funny interaction between Del and his older brother, Lew. They have the merciless banter of brothers who love each other fiercely despite the ribbing.

Gregory calls Pandemonium a type of pop culture mashup and that would be one way of looking at it - Philip K. Dick shows up, alive, and possessed, of course; O.J. Simpson, Nixon and Eisenhower, comic book heroes, Jungian philosophy all appear and as unlikely as it may seem - it works.

Plenty of action, philosophy, and witty, snappy dialogue here. Gregory doesn't waste a word. For every twist and revelation that come, Gregory skilfully laid the foundation for it. No detail is random. You could just ride this book for the thrills, but from page one are little clues that point the way to the final, satisfying, but bittersweet ending. This is a richly conceived story that is masterfully told.

BUT-

You knew there had to be a but, right? There's a scene in this book which if the gender roles were reversed, a male had been an aggressor, as opposed to a woman - would be treated as rape. Instead, it's a stereotypical male fantasy of waking up to find a woman on top of you, forcing you to have sex with her. Rape - not sexy. It wasn't even necessary, really. It could have been done differently and the story would have been perfect in my eyes.

So kids, other than the rape, this book is the best science fiction/fantasy I've read in years.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look out Lethem, March 3, 2009
This review is from: Pandemonium (Paperback)
This book and I are like a little kid in an elevator: it pushes all my buttons. The issues of free will and possession, the connection to history and the need to escape it, the deep affection for old comic books and cranky science fiction novelists, capped by a quest for healing and redemption -- all these things resonate for me.

Although this is Gregory's first novel, he brings to it the experience of decades of short story writing and it shows. The narrative is powerful and moving, the language economical and precise, and action and theme intertwine like the demon and psyche inside of the main character, Del Pierce. The writing reminds me strongly of Jonathan Lethem (author of MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN and THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE) in being informed by genre stories of the past but at the same time completely accessible to readers who've never picked up science fiction or fantasy before. It's grounded in the present moment of our human experience and uses popular culture highlights to illuminate the struggle and triumph of our life in this world.

Gregory and I share an editor at Del Rey/Ballantine, who sent me an ARC of this book to see if I'd blurb it. I tore through it in a day. This is what I sent back: "Look out, Lethem! Daryl Gregory mixes pop culture and pathos, flavoring it with Philip K. Dick. PANDEMONIUM possesses every quality you want in a great novel, and the good news is it's only his debut."

PANDEMONIUM was one of the very best books I read all year. I can't wait to see Gregory's next novel in print.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Total Awesomeness, July 10, 2014
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This review is from: Pandemonium (Kindle Edition)
I cannot believe how awesome this book was. Totally original storyline told worth a very unique voice. I enjoyed this immensely acme look forward to reading more from Daryl Gregory.
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5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT!, March 30, 2014
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This review is from: Pandemonium (Paperback)
Best book I've read in a long time! Definitely not a book where you could predict the ending. Really makes you question the meaning of good guys and bad guys as the good guys turn out to be not so good and the ones you think are the bad guys, well, I won't spoil the plot!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great language, fair story!, March 16, 2013
By 
DougLB (Philadelphia, PA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Pandemonium (Paperback)
Daryl Gregory's work reads like a stroll with a friend on a Spring evening when the lightning bugs first come out. His language is simultaneously familiar and sprinkled with small, delightful surprises. On the other hand - and perhaps it's because I like my SciFi rooted in hard science - but this story line feels a bit contrived.
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Pandemonium
Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory (Paperback - August 26, 2008)
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