To read in order, or not to read in order, that is the question

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

This book is the second in a series. I haven’t read the first one. I didn’t mind at first. The way Lena talks about the events of the first book kind of made me feel like I probably wouldn’t have liked it that much. Lena talks mostly about Alex and the events of the last book like they were a fairly standard love story, and therefore one I probably won’t love because I’m snobby about love stories. And this book was really interesting. It had a love story too because YA books always do, but I liked the political aspects of it so much that I was by far more interested in the secondary characters and plot and could have skipped the romance entirely.

But I have been assured by people who I trust that actually that the first book is awesome and that I totally would like it for the same reasons I like the second one.
So I also regret not reading it.

I suppose it’s my own fault.

Here there by spoilers for Delirium at least.
The book is told in two times, both stories running parallel for a while until they catch up and merge into the present story line. Lena lives in a world where, at 18 everyone is Cured, that is, their ability to love and feel other strong emotions is taken away from them, to allow for a more ordered, peaceful society.

The past story line is Lena waking up in the Wilds in a homestead under the care of a young woman called Raven, who has lived in the Wilds for many years and runs a ragtag group of escapees and rebels. Throughout it Lena grieves for Alex, who she believes died trying to leave the city, and learns to survive in this much harsher world. I really loved the cruelty and detached feel of the writing with moments of really beautiful, tender language mixed in. The death and the anger and the helplessness come through in the stark description of life. But also the surprising moments of beauty and comradery were super moving, particularly in contrast to the rest of the story.

The present is the story of how Lena, Raven and Tack have infiltrated New York City for the rebels and their mission there. Lena’s mission is Julian, the teenage son of the leader of the DFA, the organization that advocates the Cure for children. Maybe a little predictably, the more Lena gets to know Julian the harder it becomes for her to consider him her mission.

Now, the internet is furious that Lena is in love with Julian. Because I never knew Alex, I think it’s a great match and I hope that she will stay with him, despite the giant, very predictable twist at the end, that really completes one of the more annoying YA tropes: The love triangle.

My favourite thing about this book was the big questions it asks. About the cost of revolution, of fighting and what it takes to motivate people to resist a bad or broken system. Maybe it just seems kind of relevant at the moment. If the cost of freedom is the deaths and abuse of innocent people, when is it worth it to resist? If not resisting is safe for individuals, why wouldn’t people chose not to resist? What does it take for someone to decide to resist? What is the roll of individuals in a revolution? All real questions that I hope I’ll never have to answer for myself.

And of course the really big question: Are we beings of reason or emotion, and which one makes us stronger?

Last movie I watched:

Something Christmasy with Anna Kendrick. We watched it all the way through, even though we didn’t have to, but I’m not going to call it a re-watch. Points for the discussion of how writers talk about sex and for the super cute baby.

Last TV episode I watched:

Pokemon! I consistently fail the name all 150 Indigo League pokemon and now there are 150 new ones! Panic!


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