…on Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver {Audiobook}

Posted April 7, 2013 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 17 Comments

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium #2
Published by HarperTeen
Publish Date: February 28, 2012
375 Pages
Source: Audio – Library, Book – Library

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. -(summary excerpt from Goodreads)

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

My Thoughts:  As many of you know, I waited for years to start this series until it was completed because I don’t like big, giant, massive cliffhangers. Now granted, I didn’t know what the cliffhangers were – but I trusted my bookish friends when they said they were pretty bad. So I sat around and waited. And waited. And waited. You guys, it was so HARD when Pandemonium came out. Most of you all talked about how much you liked it and it was awesome and I was just dying on the inside because I too wanted to know all about it. But I’m one of the world’s greatest at keeping from spoilers, so I just sad on my pledge to wait until these books were releases because DOGGONE IT, I don’t like gigantic, painful cliffhangers. 

I still believe that this is one of the best bookish decisions I’ve ever made. HOWEVER…

I realized extremely early in this book that Asheley + Pandemonium = OH SNAP. Getting thru this book was an intense labor of love something for me. The ONLY way I was able to get through this book was because of the audiobook narrator, Sarah Drew, and her stellar performance. (More on that later.) 



You know, I never felt like Alex was over and done with at the end of Delirium. I mean, it felt pretty obvious to me that his part of the story wasn’t finished. So why did Lena feel such an overwhelming need to push him aside and move on? This feeling of hers and her steadfast determination to not grieve Alex at the beginning of Pandemonium just didn’t feel organic to the flow of the story, and it felt “off” right away. It felt like she completely gave up on Alex and I am doubtful that his character would’ve done that to her. As a result, I don’t feel like I connected with Lena AT ALL from the beginning. (And to be honest, I was already struggling with her because of that odd last paragraph she threw in at the end of Delirium that completely didn’t fit the story.) Because Lena and I didn’t really hit it off well, I never seemed to be able to find any common ground or sympathy/empathy for her for the rest of the book. 

Also, the Lena that ended Delirium – the “I-am-woman-hear-me-roar” Lena – THAT isn’t the Lena that began Pandemonium. What happened in the SHORT time between the books? Were readers supposed to forget about Lena’s burst of strength in the year between publication dates? I read these back-to-back and I didn’t forget about it in the couple of days between picking up books. Alex had his unfortunate THING, Lena acted all confident, then Pandemonium began and Lena was…I don’t know. WHAT WAS LENA? 

And let’s talk about this love triangle – because I didn’t actually know that a love triangle was coming my way when I began Pandemonium. Now, I’ve already said that I felt in my heart of hearts that Alex wasn’t gone, but Y’ALL I DIDN’T EXPECT LENA TO BRUSH HIM OFF SO QUICKLY AND BE LIKE ‘YO JULIAN, I LIKE YOUR STYLE. LET’S GET TOGETHER.’ What is that? Lena touches Julian, but she thinks of Alex. She kisses Julian, but she thinks of Alex. She thinks of Julian and she is also thinking of Alex. I am ALL FOR a good triangle any day of the week, but this one just didn’t do it for me. Poor Julian – did he even know he was a rebound? I just can’t get behind Lena’s thought process or her actions with regard to Julian. I’m sorry, I just cannot. 

Friends, I never for a second suspected Julian as a love interest until that thing had already happened. My sights were solely on Alex. 


About the actual story, Pandemonium had me a little bit bored for a little while. I felt like I was waiting and waiting and waiting for something to happen and then AHHH! finally it did. There was a point when Lena had an A-HA moment while she was being imprisoned – she started piecing things together and using her mind to work some clues – and things really picked up in terms of the story. From that point on, I felt invested enough in what was going on. I felt like it was no longer a chore to be listening to/reading this book. I NEEDED to know how things would end up and things were actually pretty exciting. But before that time, it seemed like it was a ton of the same thing – lots of running and getting caught. 

I normally tend to go for alternating points-of-view or alternating time periods, but for some reason, I had a really difficult time with the alternating time periods of THEN and NOW in this book. I found that I had to repeatedly look back in the book to see if I was in the “then” section or the “now” section. I attribute this difficulty to the fact that the story felt redundant in the beginning, but I have no explanation for the difficulty towards the end. I’m not sure if others have felt this way or not, but I felt like it was worth mentioning. Normally, I really love alternating anything because dual perspectives in any way are just extra ways to view a story. In this case, it didn’t work for me. 

I also felt like there were a lot of characters to keep up with in Pandemonium. It seemed like there were a ton of names to remember without anything really outstanding to make that easy. Raven was easy, but there was also Blue, Squirrel, Tack, Lu, and a bunch of other ones. Added to the confusion about the time periods, I felt confused for a large portion of this book. 

Despite the confusion and despite my HUGE issues with Lena, I am still interested in this story. I think Lauren Oliver has created a unique concept for a story that I am still interested in pursuing because it is actually pretty brilliant and scary. I’ll admit that it makes it interesting when you really, really don’t like a main character but still love the idea behind the story. Since characterization is so important to me in a story and since I don’t like the main character and my favorite character is basically missing, Pandemonium and I just didn’t hit it off. I do think it was important for me to make it through this middle installment to get to the end, but good gracious I had a hard time doing it. 

Audiobook notes: I mentioned earlier that the only way I was able to make it through the story was because of the audiobook’s voice actor.The Pandemonium audiobook is published by Harper Audio and is 10 hours, 37 minutes, Unabridged. Sarah Drew returns as the narrator and I can’t tell you how perfect she is for this book. I love that her voice is pleasing to my ear – not whiny or annoying. Drew is able to use the perfect tone and inflection for this story – she emphasizes the parts in ways that make them practically leap off of the pages (I follow along in print, so I can say this with certainty.) and her enthusiasm for this book is evident while she is reading these parts. She does a great job at reading both male and female parts. As with Delirium, I chose the audiobook format for Pandemonium as a first-read because of Sarah Drew’s narration. I am thrilled to know that when I read/listen to Requiem in a few days, it will be Sarah Drew reading it to me. She is the perfect one for this role. 

I have to mention the ending of the book. The big finale, the big cliffhanger that I was trying to stay away from. It was actually the end, this big cliffhanger that saved this book for me, but not for reasons that you all might think. I am thrilled that it happened exactly the way that it did, and I want to see how it all pans out. FOR THIS REASON and a couple others, I am absolutely going to continue with the final book even though I didn’t like it that much. I want to see what happens with that unexpected emotion that came out right at the end (which I absolutely loved). 

I know that I am in the vast, vast minority of people that didn’t like this book. I liked the overall story, but this book was just wrong to me in ways that I’ve mentioned here and in ways that I didn’t even go into. I wonder if my feelings come from reading the books back-to-back for the first time? Since I didn’t like this one and so many of you did – will I really like Requiem, even though so many of you have not? I’m really curious to see how everything pans out for me and the Delirium Trilogy. Unlike my norm, I’m not at all apprehensive about finishing this series. I’m ready to get it started. As soon as my library can gather both the audiobook and the print copies for me, I’m giving it a go, finishing this business up, and hoping for good results. 

Pandemonium will appeal to fans of:

YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian with Romance
Alternating time periods: Then & Now
Great Audiobook Narrator

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
is currently available for purchase.


I know I’m in the minority 
because I didn’t really enjoy this book. 
So talk to me about it PLEASE. 

What did you think about the book? My thoughts? 
Let’s discuss.


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


17 responses to “…on Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver {Audiobook}

  1. Mel

    I think you captured how I felt. I was baffled by the turnaround in her attitude, emotional strength and the choices she made at the beginning of Pandemonium after her strength in Delirium…..AGREED….now I just need to read Requiem and see how this goes…

    • The turnaround in the attitude was just mindblowing to me. I couldn't believe it and since it was right at the beginning of the book, I don't think I ever gained my bearings back from it. I believe it just made me distance myself from Lena even more than I already felt, which is unfortunate.

      I too plan to continue with Requiem becuase I think this is a really great concept for a story and I LOVE the very, very ending of Pandemonium. Thankfully I waited so I could read them all at once. I know the reviews haven't been all that great but I've got high hopes! We'll see!

  2. You know you are not alone. I didn't like this book at all and I felt completely the opposite about the narrator Sarah Drew. The way she made Alex sound actually made me cringe. Oh well. This series just wasn't for me. I honestly hope it works out better for you.

    • Carrie: Sarah Drew's snarky, weak-diaphragm, un-earnest "take" on Alex has sort of grown on me. Very often female narrators make the Hot-YA-Boy Cookie-Cutter voice (low, intense, and by necessity slow-speaking in order to stay in that register), which I also enjoy, but get a bit tired of, since it's hard to hear a unique personality shine through. I'm learning to think of this guy as a refreshing change. I even thought hearing him recite love poetry with that crinkly flippancy made him seem more of…an individual? I have a stronger objection to Lena's voice, actually. She maintains too much of the angsty-teenage bite during the descriptive passages, which makes Oliver's work seem less lyrical than I suspect it is in print. (Also, is it possible that Oliver meant "invalid" to be pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable, as in "not valid?")

    • I see what you're both saying about Drew's interpretation of Alex, but I think these are the things that I liked most about him. I could picture him easily because of Drew's interpretation of his voice, in part. I felt like it was a swagger, which I mentioned in my Delirium thoughts, and I loved that about him. A confidence, even. I don't really have a huge opinion on Lena's voice as much as I loved the way Drew was able to capture the emotion of each situation really well – I FELT the intensity of the situations, or the despair, or the fear, etc. And that is one of the marks of a great voice actor, in my opinion. At one point at the end of Delirium, I literally had to sit down – I couldn't even stand up – because Drew's acting was so on-point with the intensity of the situation. I don't think I would've felt it so much had I been trudging through the print.

  3. I don't think I should read this post because I'm about two-thirds of the way through listening to DELIRIUM, but I got as far as your phrase, "big, giant, massive cliffhangers," and I thought, "What? How could I not have known DELIRIUM has a cliffhanger?!" I wanted to see Oliver's writing style and world-building in this series, but I also hoped I'd feel free not to move on to PANDEMONIUM. Tell me, o reading sage, should I stop now, while I'm still able, to spare myself frustration?!

    • The thing about the cliffhanger endings in these books is that they're now almost a non-issue since the series is completed. We know that at any time, we're able to grab a copy of the next book and keep going.

      I truly think that you could end after Delirium if you want to and be okay. BUT I also think/hope there is more to be told in the story. Pandemonium, to me, feels like a placeholder or a bridge from one part of the story to the next. I personally would've preferred two longer books to a trilogy, but that's just me and it is very obvious by looking at reviews and ratings on Goodreads that I am in the far, far minority. It's just that Pandemonium seems like a completely different book than Delirium, so I'm hoping that Requiem will tie them back together (I don't know if it will!) Also, there's no way I could do this series without the audiobooks and I won't even attempt it. Sarah Drew is getting me through it.

      My frustration comes from not being able to connect with the main character despite loving the concept of the story, which is interesting. I'm also a bit frustrated because I have such strong emotional attachment to some of the characters in the first book that are not as present in the second book as they are in the other books in the series. I think it's all in how much you're willing to invest. I waited on purpose for the series to be completed before I started it, so I want to finish it. Hoping for great things for the finale!

    • Hmm, speaking of characters that were more present in the first book, it'll be a shame if Oliver doesn't explore Grace again in the series. Also, I'm almost done with DELIRIUM, and now I'm convinced that Sarah Drew should be pronouncing "invalids" in the "not valid" sense, because the origin of the name seems to be related to their ID's being "invalidated" when they disappear into the wilds. Unlike you, Asheley, I can't get behind the concept of the series. I have to continually try to talk myself into suspending disbelief. The premise is metaphorical and poignant, but distractingly implausible. And I keep stumbling on the internal inconsistencies.

  4. Goodness gracious, I'm glad I didn't read this one. No way is this story for me. Honestly, this is my usual problem with love triangles. I only give my heart to one character at a time, so I have so much trouble emotionally disengaging from him to move onto someone new. I KNOW I would have had a hard time with Julian. I wish you luck with book 3 though. i do hope you end up liking it. For sure, let me know though!

    • I have no idea how Requiem will be for me. I know going into it that I have ideas about certain characters already, and it bothers me. I already know that I don't like the MC, and that bothers me too. BUT I really like the idea of the story and I want to see how that pans out. In fact, I may be more interested in seeing how that plays out MORE than this crazy junk that is going on that I'm uninterested in (the stuff we've discussed). I am also INCREDIBLY excited and interested in seeing how that laaast little bit will play out for Lena in the end because sometimes you just bring things upon yourself, ya know? I'll be sure to let you know how I feel about it when my libraries can coordinate the book/audiobook arrivals for me. I'm ready to get this one done and marked off of my list as another series completed for this year. 🙂

  5. I absolutely loved Pandemonium. I thought that the Then and Now was brilliant. Could your confusion have something to do with the fact that you were listening to the story rather than reading it?

    Requiem is totally different. I love how the author can come up with different styles for each book. In book 3 there are two narrators. I really liked it.

    I thought it was an excellent dystopian series.

    • I suppose it's possible that I could be confused by the audiobook, but I always listen to the audiobook while following along in the print copy, so I had the print copy to keep flipping back and forth in. I was actually genuinely confused.

      I'm glad to hear that Requiem is a little bit different. It is neat that there are different styles for each book. The Requiem audiobook has just come in for me at my library today and now I'm waiting for the print copy so I can get started! I'm super eager to see how it plays out. I have high hopes for liking the finale!

  6. I had some issues with Pandemonium too. I wasn't as caught up in it as I was Delirium. And while the writing was still great, it didn't seem as magical, as lyrical as Delirium. The writing, especially that awesome "hear me roar" paragraph at the end of Delirium was so compelling. It's definitely one of my favorite books just because of that (not to mention the awesome dystopian storyline and swoony romance.)

    So, Pandemonium let me down there. And I totally agree that the Lena from Delirium was just way off from the Lena in Pandemonium. And not just because of what she has experienced. It WAS difficult for me to make that jump as a reader, so don't think you are alone in your feelings.

    I still rated Pandemonium pretty high (I think it got four stars to Delirium's five) but I have been nervous to start Requiem. The reviews have been pretty mixed. Still, like you, I want to see how the story ends. And I want to see if Oliver can raise the bar again with book # 3.

    Loved this honest review, A! sorry this book was a tough one for you.

    • I agree that Pandemonium doesn't seem as lyrical or magical as Delirium, and I wonder if this is because the author is laying out the deliria and the relationship between Alex and Lena, when Lena is learning about everything? There is some magic or something to learning that everything you've ever known is…false or not as you've thought, right? So I agree with that totally.

      ABSOLUTELY SWOONY. I am head over heels in love with Alex. (the audiobook helped)

      I think Pandemonium lost me from the very beginning when Lena was completely different from the ending of Delirium and it started pretty soon after. It seemed like a continuity issue and I had a hard time dropping or suspending that for the rest of the story, which is SO UNLIKE ME. But remember that I already didn't *love* Lena, so I feel like she just couldn't catch a break as far as I was concerned, and it just kept getting worse and worse.

      But this is one of those cases in which the other story elements kind of makeup for what I think is not-so-excellent characterization, or at least enough that I want to see the series through to completion. The very, very end of Pandemonium – talking, last paragraph – is my favorite part of the entire book. Angsty. I can't wait to see what Requiem feels like. I'm nervous but hopeful. It will SUCK if I've waited so long only to not like the series. The audiobook came in today so as soon as the print copy comes in, I'm starting Requiem. I need more of that angst. 🙂

      I REALLY need L Oliver to deliver. I didn't like Before I Fall and if this series is a flop for me, it'll make me feel kinda bad. I really want to like Requiem! I do!

  7. Okay, so I didn't actually read your review because I was afraid of spoilers. That doesn't mean I don't want to talk about it though! Like you, I waited to read Pandemonium because I'd been warned about a MASSIVE CLIFFHANGER. Truth is, I still haven't picked it up, even though I did buy Requiem. Too bad you didn't like this one as much, because yes, I've heard this one is even better than Delirium. And really, I hope I will like it better than Delirium, because while I really liked it, I didn't love THAT one. Oh well, I hope you do like Requiem when you get to it 🙂 (And I hope that I will too haha)

    • There is a pretty big cliffhanger at the end of Pandemonium. BUT I LOVED IT. I think I loved it so much because I didn't fall in love with the rest of the book so I found the cliffhanger kind of…I don't know, a change of pace or a sneaky and neat turn of events? It really makes me look forward to Requiem. I'm SO interested in seeing what my thoughts will be on that one once my library gets it in! But yeah, I think we both made really great decisions on waiting to read Pandemonium because of the cliffhanger ending. It would've been pretty painful probably if I'd have read each book when it was first published.

      It is really different than Delirium – story-wise and even structurally. And I've heard Requiem is too!

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