Pandemonium – Lauren Oliver (@OliverBooks)

The title about sums it up. Pandemonium was my entire experience with this book– and it wasn’t entirely the books fault, at least I don’t think do. My audiobook went insane. Tracks were present on the discs but were literally not there when it came time to play them. It wasn’t like they skipped or the discs were too worn out to play, they just weren’t there. And, of course, it always happened at crucial moments.
The Gaps:
Lena and Julian are hiding in wardrobe after escaping the scavengers. Suddenly, we’re in a flashback on the journey to the second encampment.
Next gap
Lena and Raven and the crew arrive at the last encampment and see that the guys never arrived. Then blamo, where’s back in the present and Julian and Lena are safely in the sewer camps with Coin and rat man.
Next gap
Julian and Lena are going to bed in the encampment outside of New York talking about Alex. Then they’re being invaded by the regulators.
Next gap
Lena is jumping on the top of a garbage truck. Next second, she’s in Julian’s family’s house. Wtf! How the hell did she get there?
And the worst missing track – the final one. The end of the book I got was Raven saying someone arrived from Portland. Now, even if I hadn’t gone and done some research, I would have figured out it was Alex. Who else could it be, she’s already found her mother – sort of. And this is ALWAYS what happens in these books. Come on! Can we please have some payment for the reward for bringing someone back? Give us the entire book without Alex. Make us believe that he really is dead. If you must bring him back, do it in the third book.

I can’t really hold these gaps against the book so much as the audio company. Great things, or terrible things, may have happened in those pauses. I get to choose that they were great. How did I feel about the book I got to listen to? It was okay. It was an easy read. It was ‘dark’ in the way authors tend to write dark to youth – Sprinkled with a healthy dose of romance. And here’s the crux of my problem with these trilogies that keep popping up all over the place. The girl who’s never dated finds her perfect boy, then she loses her perfect boy, cue the second almost perfect but slightly less so boy, then she realizes that if she can’t have the first boy this one will do, and then she uses the second boy to convince the first one he really wants her (if this is what happens in Requiem, I might scream). Hello, love triangle, I am very tired of having visit with you. I had really, really hoped that this wasn’t the way this series was going to go.

However, the book wasn’t entirely bad. The portions of the book in the Then actually explored some interesting topics. I wish more of the book had been focused on that part of the story. Looking at how the right to have passion and love also leads to suffering and pain. By choosing to live outside the bounds of cultured society, the Invalids are not only maintaining their ability to feel for one another, they’re also maintaining the ability to mourn. When Lena speaks of death in the first book, it’s always at a distance. It’s something that happens and then goes away. Raven’s grief when members of the invalids die is hard and ugly and hidden. There’s no need to hide death in the valid areas because there’s no grief. There’s need in the Wilds. I wish the book had spent more time with the sadness.

Towards the end of the book, Oliver touches on a topic that could have been a great story arc. A priest is among those present as Julian’s execution. He reads from the Book of Abraham. Religion continues to exist in the form of science. But isn’t faith a crucial part of religion? Nothing is more driven by love than blind faith – the key component in religion. You have to be able to believe in something that can never be proven. So how does this new order justify maintaining religion? Why do they even try? Wouldn’t it make more sense just to create more government? There’s always doubt with the old stories, why would the cured even allow this doubt to be present. It makes me wonder if the higher levels of government, like Julian’s father, are perhaps not ‘cured’. If they were, would they even try to maintain the illusion of religion? There are so many great ideas that could have been delved into in this book, but instead, we got a love story.
could they please be more generic

I also have a few issues with the timeline. Lena states when she is with Julian that it’s been six months since she crossed into the Wild. Six months to acclimatize herself to being an Invalid, for them to take what seems like an incredibly long journey to the winter encampment, for her to get to New York (how does that happen anyway? Is that in one of the parts of the book I was missing? Or is she suddenly just there?), set up a new identity, and infiltrate the DFA? And to get over Alex? The timeline doesn’t feel authentic.

Again, my favourite thing about the book was Sarah Drew’s reading of it. Credit where credit’s due. I’m going to listen to the last book simply because I have it, but I have little hope for it being more than just a stereotypical young adult novel.


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