What you need to know: Pandemonium is the second in (yet another Young Adult dystopian) Delirium trilogy from Lauren Oliver. I’ve not read her best-selling Before I Fall, but I can’t recall reading a bad review of it (though I have zero desire to read it). Delirium itself was recommended to me by VH1’s Kate Spencer (whom I’ve never met but keep hoping will become my internet pal because she’s a funny lady).
Set in a similar time to the present but in an alternate dystopian US, love is a four-letter word. Marriages are matched and planned by the government, boys and girls grow up separated from one another, and once you hit 18 you’re given the Cure – a brain surgery that takes away most of your emotions and the ability to love or even care. Oliver sets up an interesting world (first in Portland, Maine and then Brooklyn) without poetry, most music, or religion as we know it. The Bible has been replaced with The Book of Shhh and opponents of the Cure have been killed, imprisoned, exiled to the Wilds (the wooded areas of the country between the government approved walled-in cities), or some combination of the three. Romeo and Juliet is taught as a cautionary tale in health education class – two teenagers who catch deliria, the disease that infects and causes love.
Boy, am I excited for the second Divergent book to come out this May.
Le sigh. Okay, look: I liked Delirium, a lot – despite of some of Oliver’s easier clichés and explained metaphor (no, she literally explains her metaphor just in case we didn’t get that cows running loose are like the cattle society had become). In fact, I went from finishing the first book to pre-ordering the second via my Kindle (sweet goodness do I love that thing) in a matter of moments. It was just my luck that I finished the first book less than a week before the second came out on February 28, 2012. Yes, it took me more than a month to finish this thing and another week to bring myself to finally review it. This should not be taken as a sign of its difficulty – nay, when you sit and commit yourself reading is rather easy – but rather a sign of how lackluster Pandemonium is after its predecessor.
To indulge something that’s been bothering me for a while because I am fortunate enough to live in the first world where problems are laughable, let’s take a brief moment to compare the young woman on the cover of both Delirium and Pandemonium to the narrator, Lena’s, description of herself:
I’m not ugly, but I’m not pretty, either. Everything is in-between. I have eyes that aren’t green or brown, but a muddle. I’m not thin, but I’m not fat, either. The only thing you could definitely say about me is this: I’m short. (Delirium page 14)
(I will fight the urge to comment on said comparison but please feel free to do so in the comments.)
Did I prefer Delirium to Pandemonium? Absolutely. Will I still read the final installment when it comes out next year? Well, geeze, I can’t very well not see if my predictions are as dead-on in the third as they’ve been thus far.