I think The Giver (Louis Lowry) was my first foray into dystopian-future-YA. I read it with my ‘gifted’ English class in seventh grade. And, ermagard…I freakin’ loved it. I’m pretty sure I stole that book. Let’s just pretend I bought my own copy. And then re-read it like a bajillion times. And then I read Gathering Blue, which was pretty good, in a different way, and then The Messenger, which was kind of ‘eh,’ and now I’ve just finished Son.
Son, according to GoodReads, is the conclusion of this series. That being said, I was really looking for some ANSWERS Lowry. Some ‘tie-everything-together-answer-my-big-questions’ CONCLUSIONS.
Apparently I wrote a glowing review of the first of this series, Delirium. I wish I still had access to that book to refresh my memory before I dove into Pandemonium. I love a good series but I hate waiting on the next installment. Then when it FINALLY arrives, I have to reread the rest of the series to remember what’s going on. It’s a combination of my old age coupled with the copious amounts of dystopian YA that I read.
I don’t have a lot of complaining to do about Pandemonium, but I do have to say that it’s starting to feel like Hunger Games was spliced together with Matched and Divergent.
Pandemonium‘s format was especially confusing for me. Oliver flips between two timesets, ‘then’ and ‘now’ which are pretty self explanatory, if a little disjointed. ‘Then’ focuses on Lena’s time in the Wilds; her escape with Alex, where he is captured and presumably killed, her induction into the tough group of outcasts that fight against the Cure, and their somewhat boring struggle for survival with little food and scanty shelter. The ‘now’ chapters follow Lena after she has been reintroduced into the cured civilization, complete with a fake tattooed ‘Cure scar.’ She and two other members of the resistance (Raven and Tack in case you need to know) are infiltrating the DFA (Deliria-Free America). Lena’s mission is only to fit in and observe, she is in the dark about the larger objective. The DFA is led by Thomas Fineman, who is pushing for the Cure to be administered even earlier–despite the fact that it is largely unsuccessful on anyone younger; instead resulting in brain damage or death. The poster child of the movement is his son, Julian, who has a brain tumor that causes seizures. The Cure will probably kill him, but death is better than delirium–so the DFA says.
When she is instructed to attend a DFA rally, and not let Julian out of her sight, both Lena and Julian are kidnapped by Scavengers, another group of non-Cureds that are more like anarchists. After days alone in a cell together, a dramatic escape, and the revelation that the Scavengers and the DFA are in cahoots, it’s little surprise that Lena and Julian start getting a little cosy.
Jacob Reckless is pretty pissed that his father has abandoned him, his mother, and younger brother. Understandably so, since his mother is sick, and his brother is kind of a wuss and follows him around all the time. Jacob is sure that he can find a clue in his father’s study that will help him understand—but finding a mirror that leads to another world wasn’t what he expected.
We aren’t privy to the details of the next several years, but it’s safe to say that Jacob spends more time in the mirror than in his actual reality. So it should come as no surprise to him when Will follows him through the mirror and into the fairytale world. We haven’t learned much about either one of the characters at this point, but even so it’s pretty apparent that Will is a drip. True to character, he gets seriously injured in about ten seconds. And it’s not a good, normal injury, where you could just use some ace bandages. Nope, Will has been fatally scratched by a Goyle—a race of men made out of stone. Now, unless Jacob finds a cure (hint, there isn’t one) his brother will become a Goyle himself, forgetting his former life and living only to kill humans and mine precious rocks.
Meanwhile, the Goyle’s king, Kami’en, instructs his number one soldier, Hentzau, to find Will (obvi he doesn’t call him by his name). Kami’en’s mistress, the Dark Fairy, dreamed that there was a human turning into a jade Goyle, who would make the king immortal.
Events are further complicated by the arrival of Will’s girlfriend, Clara, who somehow finds her way through the mirror. Saddled with his useless-turning-to-stone brother, said bro’s gf, and his best friend, Fox (she is literally a fox, except for sometimes when she is a girl. I picture her as sort of a Furry) Jacob leads a quest to find a cure for Will. The best part of this book is the assortment of fairytale paraphernalia that creeps up. In this world, Jacob is a treasure hunter, and he regularly goes on quests to find things like glass slippers or magic keys. Funke embraces all that is macabre and disturbing about fairytales—the witches that eat children, the trees that will grab you if you get too close, or most terrifying, the Tailor, who’s hands are made of scissors and needles, and who makes his clothes from his victims skin. The world beyond the mirror, is a magic world where everything can kill you (there are even killer unicorns, which I know my fellow bloggers here at Rampant are particularly fond of).
Hardcover edition: I'm glad they changed the cover--I would have never picked this up.
Jacob is single-minded in his task to reclaim his brother, even after Will turns completely Goyle and starts beating him up, or after Jacob is attacked by snakes or tortured by scorpions. That kind of devotion is hard to find, especially when you are jonesing after your brother’s girl (I don’t understand why Jacob would choose a nurse over a shape-shifting fox, but then again, the fox might be thirteen, and Jacob might be thirty, the ages are never mentioned and the details in that department are a little too vague for me to decipher). Regardless, Jacob manages to turn his brother back, and return him and Clara back to the mirror. Unfortunately, in the next book, he better find a cure for himself, or he’ll die within the year. Exciting! Also, we find out that his father taught the Goyle most of what they know about engineering, weaponry, etc. So I’m guessing that his father is still alive somewhere in this land and Jacob will meet him again. Funke hasn’t revealed the sequel date or any info yet, so I’ll just have to wait. And probably read a lot of Boxcar Children in the interim.
I started reading Harry Potter much earlier than my peers, a fact that I kept to myself like a dirty, dirty secret. I must have gotten the first one in 1998 or 99…my mom gave it to me, and I was like “Moooom I’m too OLD for these!” Oblivious to my horror of being seen with a (gasp) middle reader when I was sooo aged, my mom insisted that it was really good (someone had told her about it I guess), and since I will read literally anything in front of me (like Ron Burgandy), I quickly got sucked into Harry’s world (sidebar: ironically, my mom claims now that she never bought my first Harry Potter, she never endorsed him, and that he is evil and satanic. James Dobson told her).
I kept Harry to myself until the movies started coming out and it was socially acceptable to be obsessed with him. Like everyone else, I waited feverishly for every new release—my similarly bibliophilic dad would pre-order them for me as a way to lure me home to visit. The summer that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released, I was studying abroad in Cuba. The very night that I came home, my mom and dad picked me up at the airport with my copy of the newest book. I started reading it in the car on the way home, and stayed up until I finished it.
And then I read it again the next day. While eating whatever food I could get slathered in ketchup. They don’t have real ketchup in Cuba, fyi if you ever go, bring your own. I missed it more than my family.
Anyway, even though I couldn’t wait for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I similarly dreaded my favorite series ending. I kept hoping JK had gotten it wrong, and she couldn’t fit it all into one book, and would have to write another (which I’m still holding out for).
And when I first read Deathly Hallows, I was bitterly disappointed. But perhaps that’s too strong. I was just kind of disappointed. The bitter part can probably just be attributed to my neggy* feelings over the extinction of the series. However, I remember thinking the last book wasn’t as great as the previous six, felt a little crowded and rushed, and in general displeased me.
I stayed up all last night to reread it for this post (in comparison to the first six, which have each been read at least 5 times [and some as many as 15] I think until last night I’d only read Deathly Hollows twice). And this time around, maybe it was the nostalgia or the fact that I had an entire chocolate cake, but I enjoyed it much more.
Some awesome things about Deathly Hollows:
-We find out so much more about Dumbledore and his past. Since I’m at a different place at my life now, this meant more to me than it did in my prior readings. I found myself relating a lot more to Harry, and the feelings of guilt and regret from losing someone, and realizing how little you knew about their past, or having questions you wished you had asked.
-We get to see Ron and Hermione finally get together
-Mrs. Weasley calls someone a bitch and kills them
-We get to finally put all the pieces together about Snape and his twisted feelings about Harry, Harry’s parents, Voldemort and Dumbledore. I always enjoy the parts when we go in someone’s memories. ALWAYS.
-I liked seeing Neville step up and take charge in Hogwarts with the D.A. Especially now that he’s gotten so good looking.
Some things I’m not so fond of about Deathly Hallows:
-It takes them more than half the book to find and destroy the locket, only a few chapters to find and destroy the cup, and about three pages to find and destroy the diadem. This is what I’m talking about when I say it felt rushed.
-They spend entirely too much time in the woods
-So many people die. I know this is unavoidable, and I probably would complain about the lack of realism if they didn’t die (I know, there’s no pleasing me) but I can’t help but mourn some beloved characters right? Especially you Fred. I’ll never let go.
-The epilogue where everyone’s grown up, and married, and happy, and has kids named after dead people, and going to Hogwarts. It was too cheery and fake for me. Either write seven more books about Harry and Ginny growing up, getting married, gaining weight, and having mid-life crises, or don’t bother. I mean it Rowling.
No matter my complaints, I was sad to finish the series. And now the movies are over! What are we going to look forward to now?