Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: January 1, 2011
Series: Delirium #1
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Rating: 3 stars
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“He who leaps for the sky may fall, it's true. But he may also fly.”
― Lauren Oliver, Delirium
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love. (Goodreads)
I finally read Delirium. Yes, another dystopia. I have read so many dystopian YA books this past summer. Last spring, I had read only The Hunger Games and a few others. Now, I've read countless. Dystopias have developed as a trend.
Delirium shared many similarities with other dystopian reads, but it had that nice twist of love being forbidden. In Lena's world, no one says I love you or they're considered diseased. The uncured wait till their 18th birthdays to have a procedure that will prevent them from feeling any love or compassion for others. The indifference of the cured was truly haunting. When it came to parenting, maternal love or any devotion to offspring was absent. Spouses procreated simply for the continuation of humanity. Love was missing from the equation, but everybody still swore by the procedure. They claimed happiness in their indifference, and anyone who thought different was labeled as a sympathizer and was executed or left to rot in a cell. It was terrifying for me to even imagine a world without love. Where a mother is apathetic towards her crying child. Or a husband and wife go through life feeling nothing for each other though they sleep next to each other in the same bed every night.
What really appealed to me about Delirium was that romantic love wasn't the sole focus. I expected the entire book to concentrate on the forbidden romance between Alex and Lena, but I was pleasantly surprised. While Lena and Alex's growing interest in each other is certainly a main point, we also witness the love Lena feels for her best friend Hana and the love she feels for her family, such as her cousin Gracie and her mother. We're able to see all different sorts of love, and the complexity of Lena's feelings. How easily anger, hurt, and fear can overlap with love. I found Lena's connections to her loved ones so touching and endearing, and I loved Hana, Alex, and Gracie (even though she doesn't speak).
I had some difficulty accepting how quickly Lena shifts from being a steadfast believer in the cure to an outright rebel. I loved how Lena started off as an unquestioning follower of her society, allowing us to see her full progression into rebellion. But for someone who was so excited to be cured, Lena changes so rapidly, and I didn't completely buy it. Even if Alex and Lena were madly in love, Lena was raised with certain beliefs that she cherished, but yet she drops them so quickly.
While I loved the dark twist of love being outlawed, I had trouble immersing myself into the story. There were no slow parts, but I was never completely invested in this book. Maybe the dystopia just wasn't authentic enough? I found it difficult to believe in this world without knowing the background behind the cure and the labeling of love as a disease. While it's fascinating, I needed more context and I couldn't help wanting more to this world than some groups of regulators walking around with flashlights and bullhorns. That image did not have me quaking in fear. Oliver writes beautifully - her writing style could almost be called poetic - and I loved the inclusion of poetry and classical literature (Romeo and Juliet!) as always, but I just didn't connect with what I was reading.
I have to say that while there were differences, Delirium resembled Uglies in so many ways. The Smoke versus The Wilds. The procedure and the main character who goes from supporter to rogue. Not to mention the best friend who participates in rebellious behavior? Did anyone see this as well? It didn't bother me, but it just struck me as really similar. Random thought, I know. Though I enjoyed this book more because I could not stand Tally Youngblood.
I will read Pandemonium, but I'm in no hurry. I'm anxious to see how this series unfolds, but I hope the sequel interests me more.