Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Summary: 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 governments 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. (from goodreads.com)

Review: This is a powerful book. Dystopian is starting to take off, and Lauren Oliver has created a world that is controlling and terrifying, and not that far off from where we are now. One of the things I love about Dystopian is that you can see how a few small steps can take us into a very different world. How it won't take much to suddenly be living in a very controlled world.

I generally don't get all political on my blogs, but this book really got me thinking. In Delirium, the target of goverment control is love. Love is a disease that causes people to act irrationally and create conflict. It's a bad thing and the cure is the answer. The cure removes the ability to love (even your children), it also removes pain, and anger. It removes passion. But what it really does is take away the ability to make choices, to fight back. You are asked to conform for the good of the entire nation. To choose a husband or wife from a pre-selected list of potential mates. You will have children, even though you won't love them. Your world will exist within the electric walls of the border, which keep the invalids out. They also are a cage that keep you in. Everyone is expected to do their part. Here is where I'm going to spout some political nonsense- feel free to skip ahead. The obvious parallel to draw is between their border fences and ours. Designed to keep others out, they can quickly become cages that keep us all in. Additionally, recently there has been serious controversy over the hieghtened air port screenings being done in the US. You are subjected to full body scans or pat downs. One man reported that because he was wearing sweat pants, the TSA employee actually had to stick his hands inside his pants to perform the pat down. Janet Napalitano, the secretary of Homeland Security responded with something to the effect of (I can't find the direct quote) 'We must all do our part to keep our country safe.' I can't help but wonder if it's statements like these that are the first step on a path to a world like Delirium's Portland. The underlying sentiment is that we must stay quiet, stop putting up a fight for our own individual rights, and do whatever we are directed for the good of the country. One man who refused was threatened with jail time. In Delirium you have to get the cure. You are expected to so so willingly, to not put up a fight, and to follow the governments orders for the good of the country. If you don't, you are jailed or executed. The idea's and actions are really not that far off.

Moving on to more book related thoughts. I loved the characters in this book. Lena was just the right amount of niave and curious. I bought the fact that she never questioned the way the world worked because in her family, the means to a happier, better, happier life was to accept the cure, accept your place. I liked seeing her put the pieces all together with the helped of Hana and Alex. I really became emotionally invested in these characters and how they would get through the few months that the book covers.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Oliver's writing style. She is a phenomanal writer, and doesn't dumb it down for the audience. Her books challenge her readers to really think about what they are reading and what it means, and that is refreshing. I also love the quotes that are at the beginning of each chapter, quotes from Shakespeare, the Bible and the Book of Shhh. Quotes we know, twisted to have a different meaning. Instead of being an tragedy, and epic love story, Romeo & Juliet is presented as a cautionary tale of the dangers of love. It was amazing to look at these common stories and quotes from a whole new perspective.

When the book ended I was drained, and my mind was reeling trying to process it all, and to be honest I immediately shot a friend a text to find out if this was a series or stand alone. I was not ready for it to be over. Still, the way Oliver writes the book, and ends the book, stands on it's own merits and although it is not the ending I wanted (if there was no sequel), I was content that it ended as it should have. In this way it was very much like Oliver's other book Before I Fall.

In the end I loved this book. I'm ready for the sequel, Pandemonium, already, even though it's not due for release until 2012. In short, Delirium is out on February 1st, and you need to be in line to get it!

More about Lauren Oliver:



  1. Great review, I loved how you tied it back to the real world. Ugh, the TSA. There's a vid on YouTube of them patting down a little boy! I couldn't believe it.
    Anyway, the book sounds super good. Can't wait to read!

  2. wow, this book sounds really interesting!!