Pandemonium: Delirium’s Dystopian Victim Becomes A Katniss-Like Heroine

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We Hunger Games fans have been lapping up every cast interview, reblogging every Capitol Couture Tumblr post and dog-earring the pages of our favorite scenes just to bide the time until March 23, but the days just aren’t moving fast enough, are they? Thankfully, there are other distractions at hand, like all the other excellent dystopian novels we’ve recommended to you. Today marks the release of another: Pandemonium, the sequel to Lauren Oliver’s Delirium — and it’s guaranteed to replace, at least temporarily, the visions of Katniss and Peeta running through your head.

Second books of trilogies, I think, are the most torturous things. You already love the characters, you’ve already seen them go through so much, and you know that by the end of this installment, their situations will only have worsened in preparation for book three. But in the right hands, it can be sweet torture, the stuff we know our heroine can survive and come out of even stronger, just as Katniss did after her second Hunger Games.

In Delirium, we met Lena, a girl who was counting down the days until her 18th birthday, when she’d receive the Cure, an operation to remove her susceptibility (and ability) to love, a.k.a. deliria, a known and feared disease. But then she met Alex, a boy who opened her eyes and … OK, if you haven’t read Delirium, stop reading this post now. SPOILERS after the jump.

When last we left them, Alex was shot and probably killed as he and Lena tried to escape to the Wilds. Pandemonium picks up exactly after that point, with Lena running/walking/crawling from Portland, Maine, to the wilderness outside of Rochester, New Hampshire, where she’s found on the brink of death by a group of Invalids (those who haven’t had the Cure). The chapters then alternate between Lena’s introduction to the hard-scrabble life in the Wilds — where everyone lives in the basements of bombed out buildings, subsisting on supplies floated down to them from sympathizers in the cities, as well as anything they can hunt or trap — and then her life months later, when she’s living undercover as a Cured high school senior in Brooklyn.

And here is why Pandemonium beats the Book 2 curse: Lena is a much more interesting character than the naive but hopeful girl of the first book. She’s more action hero than conflicted victim of her environment. While still in mourning for Alex, the former track star rebuilds her body as she becomes acclimated to life on the homestead among adults and children who value empathy and love above all. Back in civilization, she’s the opposite, learning to mask her emotions and embarking on a dangerous mission involving Julian, the son of the leader of the DFA, Deliria-Free America. And yes, as you can probably guess, Julian becomes something more than just a mission for Lena. She’s in the same position Alex was once in, showing someone else how the world they’ve grown up in is made of lies, and that, naturally, makes her miss him even more.

All of this is just another reason for us to hope the Hunger Games hurries up and becomes the big success we want it to be, so that Fox 2000 will get the ball rolling on its Delirium trilogy ASAP!