Top critical review
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Good bones, bad execution
on March 6, 2012
Like so many other reviewers, Delirium was one of my favorite novels of 2011 and I couldn't wait for 2012 when Pandemonium would come out. Delirium spends the whole novel getting the reader invested in Lena, her transformation, and her falling in love with Alex. The end had me dying for the next book so I could see what happened to Lena and Alex.
Pandemonium opens with Lena escaping in the Wilds, leaving Alex behind, presuming him dead. She stumbles upon a group of the resistance and integrates into their society. Unlike many of the other reviewers, I like the "Then" segments. I thought that it was necessary to show the completion of Lena's transformation from "Zombie" to the hard, practical, strong member of the resistance she becomes. It is also the only time we really see her grieve for Alex.
The "Now" segments follow Lena as she is sent on a mission to follow the prodigal son, Julian, of the Pro-Cure leader. This irked me because there is obviously something going on but Lena doesn't question it or push the matter. I found the fact that her resistance "mentors," Raven and Tack, are a part of a scheme that paid Scavengers to abduct Lena and Julian is ludicrous. I find it hard to believe that they would employ the aid of a faction that is so reviled and hated by the resistance. Plus, Raven and Tack left a great deal up to chance. I found it unbelievable that Lena was able to A) make her way to Julian through the crowds, B) keep track of him once she had found him, C) find him once he had been abducted, and D) manage to make it to him without becoming a casualty herself. I thought it was unnecessary that Raven and Tack kept her in the dark when she could have performed her task so much better with more knowledge. They didn't even have to reveal everything. It could have been "We heard a rumor that Julian would be abducted by the Scavengers at the rally - keep an eye on him" and we could have still had the OMG moment later on when we discover that the resistance paid the Scavengers. And it was irritating that Lena spent so much of the novel passive, helpless, dirty, and/or passed out. We were treated to a few scenes, but I wanted to see more of the fighter she had become!
It was entirely predictable that Lena would fall for Julian. "Oh my God, we're stuck in a room together and I hate you and everything you stand for but your whining and naivete are so attractive that I can't help myself." I didn't connect with Julian at all. I hated that I constantly felt sorry for him because of his father, his brother, his cancer, etc. As a reader, I don't want to pity the male love interest in a novel. I especially didn't connect with his and Lena's "love." She flipped from one extreme to the other so quickly and he just seemed like a horny teenage boy who got to touch a girl for the first time. (BTW, his peeping while she took a shower didn't seem sexy to me, it was creepy.) Everything between them felt forced and contrived. Maybe it was because I was so invested in Lena and Alex's relationship that this book just didn't do it for me.
Now, I don't know about you, but from watching a lot of TV and reading a lot, I KNOW that when a character "dies" - unless you see the person die and then witness them being buried or burned - you can pretty much guarantee that there's a good chance you'll be seeing them again. That for me was predictable and I was not at all surprised when Alex showed up on the last page, interrupting a lovey-dovey moment between Julian and Lena. I am so tired of the teenage love-triangle in YA novels. Just because it worked in Hunger Games doesn't mean it's the best plot direction for this series. While I loved Delirium, and this series had the potential to become the next HG for me, this second book ruined it by forcing a triangle. I feel like this book would have been better without the love-triangle set up.
However, with all that said, I *will* be reading the third book to find out what happens with Lena and Alex and to see if, hopefully, it can redeem the disappointment of this book. :(