Saturday, April 7, 2012


I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame. 

Lauren Oliver has done it again. She continues to astound me with her electric prose and her exciting plotting. She is a master at creating a mood and getting the reader completely sucked in. There were seriously moments, during the reading of Pandemonium, that I was so engrossed and I would look up and realize where I was. It is a mark of a sheer genius who can make you believe the characters are real because you identify with them so much and you empathize with them. 
It is an unfair comparison, but I kept thinking about Crossed by Ally Condie. While I enjoy the story and the idea in Condie's trio, I think the writing is lacking. Where these two are both the second in a trilogy it seemed appropriate to see where one was winning and one was lacking. Condie's second volume is good, don't get me wrong. I have a review of it on this blog, but I remember shutting it at the last page and thinking "Nothing even happened!" And now, as I recall, all I remember is a lot of running, some climbing, some hiking, twists and turns, and nothing real progressive with the plot. I think another reason I compared the two, in my mind, is because they both dealt with tunnels or being out in the forbidden "Wilds." Condie's wilds are alien and unapproachable. I had no idea where to even plant myself in them. Oliver's Wilds are realistic and, exactly that: wild. The pain is real in Oliver's book. I felt each pang of hunger, each twist and turn as the characters turned on each other because they acted human and real. 
Oliver also did an unfair thing. She introduced a love triangle. I wanted to cry out, but the progression of the love Lena gains for Julian is natural and quite beautiful. This is truly a triangle I'm going to struggle to pick a side for. Both of them are good guys and I'm pretty sure Oliver has a good answer for it. The third book will be very telling. Julian was an interesting addition to the mix and I grew to empathize with him. And it was also an interesting twist that suddenly Lena takes Alex's place and "infects" Julian just like Alex did to her. 
Lauren Oliver moves her story forward like an unstoppable avalanche. It rumbles and bursts with power, sometimes managing to take my breath away. Back to Condie's book: I don't remember being rendered breathless with her story. Yes, her words are pretty, but when you match plot to that, she's seriously lacking. Lauren Oliver has managed to partner the two to make a genius and remarkable story in the young adult fiction world. I highly recommend this trio and anything else that she writes.  

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