I liked this book a lot - it had a different feel than Delirium, and was predictably the "middle book" of the series. I see how it went the way it did, how Lena has to grow up and mature. I get it. I just hate that it has to be that way. I didn't want Lena to stay an innocent, but I also didn't want her to become hardened or cold.
The hopeless romantic in me wanted her to hold out for love, to never stop believing in the first thing she found. I find myself thinking about how she was cheated out of that -- not given enough information to stop it herself from giving up. I also find myself thinking things like "if he had just come into the room 30 seconds earlier . . . " This book enters into the reality of the dystopia, venturing into the war and the resistance and the practical matters of fighting the injustice of the warped society. There seemed to be a whole lot of starvation, extreme physical conditions to endure, and people getting attacked and wounded. The psychological manipulation at least made things somewhat surprising. I was convinced for awhile that Julian was just posing in order to spy.
And let me also say that 1-I haven't read Twilight (and do not intend to), and 2-I don't mind a love triangle as long as it makes things interesting without abandoning the original intent of the relationships.
But after that first love story of Delirium, I wanted more of the fairytale, the escape into romance. This story just made me cry. It also makes me proceed with caution into the final book of the series. I am so afraid that Oliver will go some crazy direction that I will hate. That's what happened with Hunger Games for me; I absolutely hated the ending. I want rich characters and happy endings, with just enough of the rest to make it interesting.
It's a shocker of an ending, just like Delirium. My mind is going all over the place wondering where the story will go next. I sincerely hope that Oliver will not abandon her first premise, since this book series is about love. If, in the last book, I have to wait until the last 2-3 pages of that to come back around, I'm going to be wrecked for awhile. I get really emotionally invested into characters. Probably not healthy - who can resist when you have characters like Lena and Alex?
Hopeless. I am hopeless. If Lauren Oliver set out to manipulate me with an emotional roller-coaster ride, she did it expertly. And with this book, I think that was exactly the point. Well done.