Delirium is a dystopian novel set in a future USA where love is regarded as a disease. All citizens are “cured” once they reach maturity through a medical procedure that prevents them from feeling love, or any other extreme emotion, for the rest of their lives. After all, love is dangerous. Love breeds unhappiness, discontentment, jealousy, even hatred. It is safer to live without it.
I personally think that this premise is genius. Honestly, I’m jealous I didn’t think of this whole “regarding love as a disease” idea first. But Lauren Oliver did a great job with it. Oliver’s writing is beautiful; she uses poetic phrasing and easy syntax that continuously made me feel as though I were sinking deep into the main character’s world of protective rules, mysterious pasts, and sticky-hot summers. I was hooked from the very beginning (I was reading it on my walk home from the library after I had picked it up) until the last pages. I was left with only two complaints.
First, I felt that Oliver could have pushed a little harder and explored a little more with her theme of the uncertainty but ultimate necessity of love. My second complaint is that the novel is predictable–we’re talking No-Duh-Sherlock shortcake with I-Saw-That-Coming icing, but there are still a few Sprinkles of Surprise to top it off.
…Can you tell I’m hungry right now?
Anyway, the story is about a teenaged girl named Lena, who is mere months away from the procedure that will “immunize” her to love–or amor deliria nervosa, as it is called in the novel. (Don’t you just love that moment when you figure out how a book got its title?) Due to her mother’s deliria-induced suicide many years ago, Lena is looking forward to her upcoming procedure as the thing that will ensure her safety and belonging in the world. But in the weeks leading up to her permanent cure, Lena meets a curious boy named Alex, and as boys so often do in novels, Alex changes our protagonist’s world.
Of course, Lena and Alex fall in love, and of course, they ultimately decide to run away before they can be caught and “cured.” I was a little frustrated with Lena at this point, because she delayed this inevitable decision for as long as possible and spent a long time proceeding with life as if nothing was ever going to be different, even though she was obviously in love. (Suspiciously insta-love, but still.) I wanted to spend a little more time at least watching Lena struggle with whether or not she should continue with her procedure now that she knew what love was like. It seemed like a chance for Oliver to really make a statement, but instead, it was pages and pages of Lena just floating through life and only at the very last second realizing that the rocks she’s heading toward are in fact very bad news for her little ship.
The ending was gripping, though, high-stakes and nerve-wracking. The moment Lena finally makes a decision is the moment everything goes wrong, and her plan to slip away turns into a high-speed chase. Can you say cliffhanger?
Yes, we have all the typical makings of a YA novel here: teenage heroine, love story, dystopian government, probably an underground rebellion in the making (that last one is mostly my own speculation). But let me make my feelings on this point clear: just because something is cliché (I think kids are calling it “basic” nowadays?) does not mean you are not allowed to enjoy it. Most things become cliché in the first place because so many people enjoy them. I know many YA books are cliché, but does that mean I’m not allowed to enjoy them? No!
(Luckily for you, otherwise you wouldn’t have this fabulously dorky little blog to read! But back to our topic.)
I’m looking forward to reading the next novels in this trilogy. (I’m definitely loving the titles, too–Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem.) I have a list of questions I want answered and events I want to take place. If only I could read faster!
My family is full of fast readers, but I just found out that they all skim. I’m the only one who reads every word. I think they’re cheating; they think I’m too meticulous.
How do you read? What did you think of Delirium? How does it compare to Lauren Oliver’s other works? I know my little pet-project-blog only gets a small handful of readers, but I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!