This is the second book in the series, so before you can jump right into it you’ll have to read “Delirium” by Lauren Oliver. The basic premise of this first book is in the future, love will be treated like a disease. Every citizen has “the cure” when they turn eighteen years old – a part of their brain is removed so they cannot love. And by “love” we’re not just talking about romantic love; people who have been cured will no longer love the sports/hobbies they used to, and they won’t love their friends, and they won’t love their children.
I found the premise to be sad and extremely disturbing, but also intriguing. The first book was good – I thought it would be better, I have to admit, but it was still good and worth reading, and when the sequel came out, eventually I picked it up, and I’m glad I did.
In many ways I enjoyed “Pandemonium” even more than “Delirium,” which almost never happens for me in a series. In this second book, we get to see what life is like for those who refuse to be cured, who escape out of the cities and live in the wilds beyond.
The book alternates between the past and the present for the main character. In the present, we see her infiltrating society and trying to achieve her first mission, and in the past we see her learning to survive in challenging conditions as she struggles to understand “the wilds” and the people in them. Both are good, although it can get a little frustrating at times when you want to know what is happening right now but the book switches back to back then. This is one of the criticisms I’ve seen of this book, but ultimately I liked it; it creates tension, as each section generally leaves off with a bit of a cliff hanger, and you really need to see Lena’s past in order to understand what she’s going through.
Other criticisms? The plot was a little predictable; I knew how this book was going to end before I was halfway through, but I still enjoyed seeing it play out. Lauren Oliver is a very good writer, and she sets things up well. The ending, although I saw it coming, was very dramatic and left off in such a way that I am very excited to read the third book and see what the main character decides to do. (Warning: there is going to be a love triangle…)
So, overall I’d say this series is worth a read. The third book, “Requiem,” is supposed to come out on March 13th, 2013. Meanwhile there are also a few short novellas detailing the lives of other characters in the book; I haven’t read those yet, but they look pretty interesting. In a market flooded with dystopian books, this is one of the most chilling for me; the idea that the government has the right to go in and remove part of your brain? Frightening. And that whole not loving anything anymore, and people thinking that’s a good thing? Even worse.
How about you? What’s your favorite dystopian novel? And which one has been the most disturbing to you?
p.s. If you’re looking for a great YA read, but you’ve had enough of dystopian, check out Lauren Oliver’s first published book, “Before I Fall.” Probably one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.