Pandemonium Read-a-Long: Week Two!
Last week we covered the first half of Pandemonium - you can catch up by reading the recap & my thoughts here.
And if you missed the Delirium Read-a-Long hosted by Christa, you can find her posts on More Than Just Magic. And next week we'll continue with Requiem, hosted by Angel at Mermaid Visions! SO EXCITING!
Day 6 - Next 3 Chapters - Pages 160-196
Quick recap: Lena recalls the group relocating and an interesting encounter with Raven. Raven takes Lena hunting and forces her to kill a rabbit; as if it's a part of Lena's education about the resistance and The Wilds and frankly, just life in general. Lena and Julian struggle between becoming sort-of friends and disliking each other. The Scavengers question Julian and beat him up; Lena realizes that Tack and Raven left her clues in The Book of Shhh telling her to escape and had hidden a knife in the umbrella they gave her. Finally, Lena recalls the past and when Raven and Bram gave her her "cured" procedure mark.
That first chapter is a good indicator of why I feel somewhat iffy about Raven. I've never really taken to her - and that may partially be because I have yet to read her POV novella. From Lena's perspective we see a lot of what Raven does and what she tells Lena, much of which I don't agree with, but never really understand why. She's just so harsh and I think that comes across very strongly in this scene with the rabbit. And Julian and Lena are just so back and forth! He's curious enough, but I'm becoming less and less convinced about him as a romantic interest (besides a rebound for Alex).
Day 7 - Pages 197-240
Quick recap: Blue becomes sick while Raven, Lena and the others are relocating - she develops a fever and Raven tells Lena the story behind Blue's name - how when she was living at home, she found a "deliria baby" in a shoe box, who was so cold she was blue. Blue dies and the group buries her, and it's clear how hard this is on Raven. In the "now" timeline, Lena forms a plan to escape - she lures one of the Scavenger guards with a fake note and attacks him. She and Julian are able to hide in a closet, while the other Scavengers realize they've escaped and attacked their guard. Lena also realizes that this isn't an ordinary Scavenger group because they're too well-organized and have too much equipment. It looks to her as if they've been hired by someone. Julian also tells her a bit more about how cruel his father is, and how his father was responsible for his brother's death (who fought against the DFA).
Blue's death is one of the hardest parts of this book for me - it's one of the rare instances Raven really shows emotion and talks about her "before" life. Lauren doesn't shy away from these emotionally impacting scenes at all!
There is so much more action finally! This was a terrible point to leave off, because by now I'm invested in the story. But I'm also less impressed with the scene where Julian and Lena have to figure out the code to the door in the Scavenger's base where they're keeping them. How is it that Julian remembers that he can never remember the code to his house, so they leave little clues nearby - and the Scavengers just happen to do the same thing by having the nearby clock frozen on the time that turns out to be the code? This felt way too far-fetched for me, and makes Julian seem so suspicious! How would that not cross Lena's mind at all?
Day 8 - Pages 241-290
Quick recap: Raven leads the group to the third encampment, hoping to find Tack and Hunter; unfortunately, they arrive to find it abandoned and Scavengers attack them! Luckily Lena and the others are able to fight back and run away well enough, and Tack and Hunter are able to assist them in fighting off the Scavengers. In the "Now" timeline, Lena and Julian are being creepy and eyeing each other up secretly while they shower - really, guys? This is all taking place while they try to escape from the Scavengers. The Scavengers end up attacking them (while they're busy ogling each other) and some mysterious, "rat people" (as Lena affectionately calls them) show up and save them! Lena is wounded and they take her further into the tunnels where she realizes there's a whole group of people living here, hidden from the world because they're considered freaks. The rat guy leads Lena and Julian to the surface, where she discovers a familiar safe house.
You can probably tell by that little recap that I'm mildly annoyed with Julian and Lena right now. They just seem so... hormonal. As if they've actually been stuck underground for too long, and Julian for someone who has never seen or been around girls before, is all like "oh hey, Lena, I know you told me to turn around but I've never seen a girl naked so let me eye you up while you're topless!" and Lena just goes for it. It's weird.
I'd completely forgotten about this other group of people living underground who rescue Julian and Lena! I really wish we'd gotten to learn more about them, because they are so interesting. They kinda remind me of Leah Bobet's characters in Above, actually.
Day 9 - Pages 291-331 (it's in the middle of the last chapter - this last one is LONG)
Quick recap: Lena and Julian finally decide to jump on each other while at the homestead. They make out and fall asleep, and when they wake up Lena realizes something is wrong... just moments before they're attacked by officials. They're separated and Lena's taken to a van where the official guarding her tells her that she's a part of the resistance. She takes her to another safe house where Lena is reunited with Raven and Tack - where they admit to her that the whole thing was a setup. The Scavengers are paid off by the officials to create fear to ensure people continue to believe the uncureds are savage. Lena and Raven argue about this, and Lena finally calls Raven out for it - saying that these methods are no better than the cureds, because they're just manipulating others to get what they want. Lena discovers that Julian is about to be executed and she decides to try and rescue him.
Something I picked up on in the Julian/Lena kissing scene is how often Lena lets her memories of Alex mingle with Julian - to the point where I don't think it's about either BOY in particular, as much as Lena just wants to love someone. Which makes sense when you think about her relationship with and the loss of her mother. It makes me wonder if perhaps it isn't so much about a particular boy (as in Julian v Alex) but more about just LOVING in general. Someone, anyone.
I also find it interesting how upset Lena becomes with Raven - I don't blame her at all, but it's interesting because Lena is fighting with the resistance.
Final Day - End of last chapter
Quick recap: Lena makes her way to New York to save Julian - she stops first at his house, to discover he isn't there. But she does find the key to Thomas Fineman's study and finds a book of political prisoners where she finds her mother's entry and realizes her mother was the woman who saved her from the regulators. She makes her way to the hospital where Julian is and as it turns out, Raven is the one who shoots Thomas Fineman killing him and helps Lena rescue Julian. Tack is waiting for them in a van, they all reunite happily to continue on with the resistance. Until Alex shows up at the end just as Lena and Julian are pledging their love to each other! (Raven just told Lena a few minutes ago that a hostage who survived the Crypts and escaped during the bombing has just arrived. That would be Alex, apparently.)
I HATE THIS ENDING. I hate that Alex shows up right at the moment that Lena and Julian are kissing and promising to stay together. I hate that after all he has been through, this is the first he and Lena see of each other. I want to know everything that happened to him (he really needs his own book, in my opinion).
Also, at the beginning of this last chapter Lena admits that she feels more comfortable with Julian than she ever did with Alex - but my problem is that I don't see any evidence of this in Pandemonium. I think this is one of the reasons I dislike their relationship compared to Alex and Lena, because I never really see why they've bonded. Part of it is the two being trapped together and held hostage, but it never goes any further than that for me. It seems to be a case of telling rather than showing - we're TOLD that they're so in love, but I just don't see enough evidence of that as opposed to Lena and Alex.
I'm also glad that Raven and Lena could come to a better understanding and appreciation of each other.
Overall, Pandy is a very different book from Delirium. We get a few answers we've been looking for, but we're left with so many other questions as well. During my read through, I'm not sure how well the "then" chapters set in the past of Lena's time in the Wilds worked for this book. I'm not convinced they added as much to the story as another perspective could have. It's still a great book, full of action and thoughtful questions but it doesn't have the same place in my heart as Delirium.