Today's the day! ARE YOU AS EXCITED AS I AM?!
Christa from More Than Just Magic hosted our Delirium read-a-long for the past two weeks as the Requiem Club prepares for Requiem's release (which is only ONE WEEK away now)!
Delirium is by far my favourite of the trilogy (and one of my favourite books of all time) but in Pandemonium we get to see a significant number of changes, and I think there's so much to talk about here.
So whether you haven't read Pandemonium yet, or you're wanting to re-read it before Requiem, or you just want to discuss parts of the book with other readers - make sure you join in! I'll be covering Pandemonium for the next two weeks - and all posts will be located in this post as I'll just update it as we go along.
**Heads up, friends - these posts will be filled with spoilers for Delirium and the parts of Pandemonium we've read. But I won't spoil the end of the book or Requiem**
Quick recap: Lena has escaped from Portland after the disastrous events at the end of Delirium (including Alex being shot and captured/killed). She's delirious, and wakes up in an unfamiliar home where she meets a group of people living in the Wilds who have cared for her after finding her. She meets Raven, who continuously tells her to let things go and move on from the past.
First of all, can we note how sad I am reading these first pages? My heart is breaking all over again, and it's amazing how well Lauren Oliver picks up right where Delirium left off. Everything that happened in that last chapter of Delirium feels so fresh and newly wounded still. And it is for Lena, even if it isn't for the reader.
One of the key themes of the series that is emphasized a lot in Pandemonium is this idea of new life or rebirth. Lena mentions a number of times that "the old Lena" is dead, and there's only "the new Lena" left. In these first two chapters, she mentions it mostly as she remembers Alex being shot and her escape from Portland. That is her moment of rebirth, but I think looking back we can all see how that isn't exactly true. The beginnings of change had already taken root - I'd say before Lena even really met Alex, but definitely by the time they become friends. And I think possibly it was there inside her all along. Also, I really love the fiery imagery Lauren gives us here; it makes me think of Lena as a phoenix, rising from the ashes. Which I think is pretty much a perfect description of her.
"Fire tearing through every nerve and cell in my body. That's how I am born again, in pain..."
Another recurring theme throughout the books is this idea that no one is really what they seem. This is hinted at through Delirium, and I think most notably through Alex. Lena sees him as an invalid, and wild and dangerous. Then she gets to know him and realizes... he's nothing really like that. He's sweet and caring and beautiful and thoughtful and brave and.... *sa-wooooon*
But by now this is so clear to Lena. She remembers Portland and the officials there, and she's seriously doubting everything she's ever believed in. She meets some of the people living in the Wilds and things change. for her.
"The animals are on the other sdie of the fence: monsters wearing uniforms. They speak softly and tell lies and smile as they're slitting your throat."
This is such a hard book for me to read. I think that's partially because everything that happened at the end of Delirium was so dreadful and permanent and all you can do is wish that it will go away and you'll wake up and realize you were dreaming the whole thing. But you can't do that. I can remember a handful of times I felt the same way, and I think that feeling is something all of us can relate to. It's hard, and it stirs up those same feelings.
Day Two - Second "Now" Chapter - Pages 46-58
Quick recap: Lena fills us in a bit more on the super secret spy mission she's doing in New York for Raven. We hear about her attempts to fit in at the school she's attending and her involvement with the DFA to collect information. And while at a big DFA meeting we meet the leader of the movement, Thomas Fineman, and his son, Julian Fineman. Julian gives a speech about how he's willing to risk his life getting cured and what it's been like to nearly die at a young age.
Confession: I completely forgot all about this side of Julian. I may have been a little bit harsh towards Julian the first time I read Pandy, so it was very eye-opening to re-read this chapter. He is completely different from my recollection of him, and I feel very sympathetic. And I can totally get why Lena is so curious about him, because he really is fascinating with the whole child cancer bit and commitment to the DFA movement by risking his life to get cured. He's a symbol for cureds, and you can tell.
Also, I never took notice of how much info we get about New York and the world outside Portland before. Lena mentions how different it is to have automobiles running because there aren't very many in Portland. Which makes it even clearer how different Porland is from other cured cities - this has been hinted at before, but without Lena experiencing anything else we don't get to see much of it. I really like that Lauren Oliver included this bit to give us a glimpse.
Day Three - Second "Then" and Third "Now" Chapters - Pages 59-86
Quick recap: Lena finally decides to start pulling her weight and really join in with the Raven & Co. group. We see a bit more of their daily lives and see some glimpses of their characters. Lena also realizes that Hana has now gone for her procedure and is coming to terms with Alex's death. But the biggest thing comes in the newest Now chapter where Lena has to go back to the DFA meeting auditorium to retrieve her glove - where she realizes that Juliane Fineman may be hiding some secrets of his own. She notices that he's looking at pictures of far away places all by himself, and he catches her watching him. They have a very brief discussion where neither one likes each other very much.
Lena starts to realize that she has to move forward with her life. Just step by step, day by day to get through it. We see the beginnings of her letting go of Hana and Alex, but she's still grieving over losing them in two very different ways. The Alex-loving part of me is admittedly pleased to see her snub Julian a bit. He really does come across as cold here, doesn't he? It makes sense but still.
One of my favourite quotes is from page 75 - I think it sums up Lena's struggle very well.
"But here's the thing: When I'm running, there's always this split second when the pain is ripping through me and I can hardly breathe and all I see is color and blur - and in that split second, right as the pain crests, and becomes too much, and there's whiteness going through me, I see something to my left, a flicker of color (auburn hair, burning, a crown of leaves) and I know then, too, that if I only turn my head he'll be there, laughing, watching me, holding out his arms.
I don't ever turn my head to look, of course. But one day I will. One day I will, and he'll be back, and everything will be okay.
And until then: I run."
I can't get over Lauren's writing. It's gorgeous. Lines like this make my heart stop for a moment.
Day Four - Pages 87-118
Quick recap: Hunter and Lena become closer friends; he shows her how they receive messages from "zombieland" with the birds and the painted nests. She's really throwing herself into life in the Wilds. The group makes plans under the leadership of Raven and Tack to relocate South. then moving back to the present, Lena attends a huge DFA rally with Tack and Raven where she's told to keep an eye on Jlian at all costs. However, Scavengers attack as soon as the rally begins and Julian is taken into the subway by his bodyguards where Lena follows them. She finds Julian's two bodyguards dead and the chapter ends!
I'm so heartbroken every time Lena thinks of Alex and Hana (or even Grace) and how hard she has to work to push them out of her head! I know there's a lot of focus on Alex and Lena's relationship, understandably, but it really becomes clear that Lena has lost more than just him.
Also, I found it interesting that at the DFA rally there were protest groups. We tend to think of the cureds as being one cohesive group, but I think it makes the world here a bit more dimensional to add in this aspect. They don't agree on everything, and we can really see how precarious the situation is for society.
Day Five - Next four chapters - Pages 119-159
Quick recap: Things are really picking up speed now - Miyako is one of the last to get sick in the Wilds and she dies just before the group relocates. The scouts don't come back on time, and Lena discovers the nests have turned red - moments before their area of the Wilds is bombed and the group takes off (minus Squirrel and Grandma who they don't believe made it out of the house). Meanwhile, Julian and Lena in the present end up in a locked room together. Julian finally seems to be letting some of his guard down and Lena eventually does too.
The most notable part of these chapters for me was probably the bonding between Julian and Lena. You can just see glimpses of friendship taking place there, and Julian is a little bit less flat as he asks Lena to tell him stories and shares some of his own. And I'm realizing he isn't exactly what he seems like at first glance - cold and brainwashed. But there's still something about him that feels a little immature, you know? He just feels so young, although maybe that's just compared to Lena.
I also find it amazing to see how different Lena is between the "Then" and "Now" chapters. Drastic, drastic changes and it's so interesting to see the development.