**SPOILER ALERT: Certain elements not revealed in the review of the first book, Delirium, may be revealed here.**
Book two in the Delirium series starts with Lena awakening to a new world. Her life in Portland is over, Alex is gone, and her new family are those she used to know only as the Invalids. She may have escaped her oppressors, but what has she jumped into? Life is hard. Those who live in the free zone (Portlanders call it The Wilds) must rely on the sympathizers on the other side of the fence to send them supplies when they can and make do when they can’t. Winter is coming, but as the inhabitants prepare for their yearly trek south, they are attacked by the Cureds with strikes from the air. Many do not make it out alive.
The story alternates between Lena’s arrival in the free zone and her work with the resistance in New York City. In New York, she poses as a cured girl living with her sister (Raven) and her sister’s husband (Tack). Unbeknownst to Lena, Raven, Tack and a shadowy group called the Scavengers are planning a disruption of an enormous rally put on by the DFA (Deliria-Free America). The DFA believes that everyone, no matter what their age, needs to get the cure procedure, even though it is not safe for those under 18. Thomas Fineman, the founder of the DFA, and his son, Julian, are scheduled to speak at the rally. Through a series of events, Julian and Lena are captured and held by the Scavengers beneath the streets in the old subway tunnels. Julian thinks Lena is cured and Lena hates Julian and all he stands for. How can they build enough trust between them to be able to escape?
Escape they must, and as they find their way back to the “real” world, Lena learns why Julian vehemently wants the cure, even though it most likely will kill him. Julian and Lena slowly form an alliance of sorts which slowly turns into something more. Once they return aboveground, Lena learns that perhaps the differences among the Resistance, the Scavengers and the those who still believe in the Cure aren’t quite so black and white as she once thought.
Many sophomore books, even those in a series, can suffer from a lack of excitement because the story has been told; it now has to be topped. Unless the author can inject something new (yet related) into the novel, Book #2 can merely serve as a conduit for information. All it accomplishes is furthering the story. Then, the last book swoops in, has an explosion or two, then wraps the tale up in a shiny bow. No fair to Numero Dos. Happy to say, this is not the case here. Because the protagonist is now in a completely different setting with a new cast of characters, her reactions and beliefs and the way she lives have changed drastically. The author takes great advantage of this by almost creating a story within a story. With a few minor changes, this book could stand on its own.
Loved both books; can’t wait until Spring 2013 for the final book, Requiem. “There is no before. There is only now, and what comes next.”
4 out of 5 Stars.
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver was published March 1, 2012 by Harper.