Pandemonium

Book review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Pandemonium Book Poster Image
Sequel to Delirium has more violence, splash of romance.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

While Pandemonium doesn't have any historical lessons, its themes provide an opportunity for teens to learn about the dystopian genre, featuring hyper-controlling governments and a futuristic setting. Teens might be interested in books and films containing similar themes and should check out our the many dystopian titles available.

Positive Messages

Important lessons about fighting for what you believe in and standing up for your right to your own feelings. Characters risk the comforts of a stable daily life in order to keep their ability to feel love (and passion, hate, and any other strong emotion). Lena's journey also demonstrates how dangerous it is to be in an oppressed minority.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lena joins the resistance of "Invalids," who fight against the controlling government, but she's still unable to kill unless she's defending herself. Julian discovers that love isn't a sickness after all and that his feelings liberate him from a life of rote obedience and conformity. Characters who are uncured do everything they can to survive and convince others not to let the government deprive them of falling in love. The leaders of both the government and the rebellion demonstrate how decisions made for what they believe to be the greater good may wind up hurting or even killing people.

Violence

Several characters die or are presumed dead -- one of them a young child -- from hunger, exhaustion, and sickness and also murder (guns, knives). The resistance avenges the onslaught of bombings and imprisonment with their own brand of terrorism. A character is caught and sentenced to die via lethal injection. Lena and Julian get into hand-to-hand fights with their pursuers and must use weapons  -- usually knives -- to subdue and evade them.

Sex

Lena recalls her kisses with Alex and then, believing him dead, yearns for a connection -- in the form of an unlikely prospect. She and a new suitor get to know each other under intense conditions that propel them into each other's arms. They touch and bandage each other (chastely) and then kiss passionately (once in bed together). She thinks of letting him touch her everywhere.

Language

"F--k" is said two or three times, and words like "s--t," "bitch," and "ass" more often than that.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lena and the other Invalids pass a bottle of whiskey around. A character is known to smoke in private.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the dystopian thriller Pandemonium, a sequel to Delirium,  is a classic second installment, featuring lots of plot-furthering action, violence, and a splash of romance. The first half has some somber sequences about the hungry and impoverished uncured population, but the second features a great deal more violence than the original book: People are killed or die of disease and starvation. The protagonist and supporting characters must defend themselves by injuring or even killing their pursuers. Although the language is fairly standard for teen books, there's more swearing than in Delirium (including a few instances of "f--k"). The romance, while described intensely, doesn't lead to any full-out love scenes -- just a few passionate kisses.

User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written byLaxChick May 6, 2012

great plot

The book it starts out a little slow but it picks up really fast and gets really intense to were you cant put it down. i read it in two days.
Teen, 13 years old Written byinfinite-hope April 13, 2013

Ending was suspenseful.

I didn't enjoy this as much as the first book but it's not too bad. :) A lot of violence, but there are definitely not as much kisses as in the first... Continue reading

What's the story?

In part two of Lauren Oliver's Delirium trilogy, the action alternates between the "now" Lena, who's a dutiful member of the rebellion against the controlling government, and the "then" Lena, who barely survived her escape into the Wilds while her true love, Alex, let himself be captured and killed. PANDEMONIUM explains how Lena barely got across the fence and wound up in an encampment of free, uncured citizens led by Raven. Despite mourning Alex's loss, Lena decides to make herself worthy of his sacrifice and eventually agrees to become a spy in a New York City mission to bring down a government-controlled citizens' group that believes all "Invalids" should be eradicated. But when Lena meets Julian, the son of the movement's reactionary figurehead, she realizes how desperately others need to be convinced of the power of love.

Is it any good?

At first, teens may be confused about why Lena is sitting in a Brooklyn high school, when the last time we saw her she was watching the love of her life bloodied and bruised. Eventually it's clear that there are two time frames for the story -- the immediate aftermath of Lena's escape and her life as part of the rebellion. Readers who expect Alex to miraculously pop up unscathed and continue his starry-eyed relationship with Lena will be disasppointed that Alex is only featured in Lena's memories and that she's eventually drawn to someone who's Alex's opposite.

Because the romance (Oliver's strong suit) in this book feels somewhat like a betrayal to the central one that started the series, there's an underlying sense of conflict and tension that readers will feel right along with Lena about her new relationship. Oliver's not the most detailed world builder, so unlike Suzanne Collins, who provides a detailed explanation of Panem's 13 districts and inhabitants, we learn only a little more about the groups of uncureds, but not nearly enough to fully flesh out this dystopian world where love is a battlefield.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of the dystopian novel in young adult literature. Why are the number of books like The Hunger Games and Divergent increasing each year?

  • Does Lena's new romance seem believable in light of her past relationship with Alex? Why are love triangles such a prevalent subplot in books and movies?

  • Pandemonium has a lot of social commentary about the controlling government and the effect of love and passion on society. What does a world without strong emotion look like? Lena struggles with the rebellion's acts of revenge. What do you think?

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