Imagine a world where there is no love. Love is a disease. Love causes too many problems in our society—jealousy, anger, destruction. One must be cured of this “deadly disease.” The government dictates and controls every citizen. Once a young adult turns eighteen years old, you are mandated to be “fixed” to erase the feelings of love within you. At this point, you no longer have a choice in your life once you undergo the surgery. After your evaluation, you are matched with a mate and given an appropriate career that will suit you best. Your entire life is planned out for you. You do not have a voice in your future. New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver paints a unique, dystopian tale of a young girl, rebelling against the norms of society, for true love with an outsider from the Wild.
“They say that the cure for love will make me happy and safe forever. And I’ve always believed them. Until now. Now everything has changed. Now, I’d rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years suffocated by a lie.”
Lauren Oliver, born and raised in New York, grew up with two literature professors as parents. Persuaded to be creative early in the arts, she began to develop her love for writing to expand upon her love of reading. Beginning her journey by creating sequels for the books she loved, Oliver delved further into writing by creating her own stories. She began working at Razorbill, a Young Adult division of Penguin books, where she began to write her own story. Soon after, she decided to leave Razorbill to become a full-time writer.
Going into Delirium, I had high expectations from previously reading Oliver's debut novel Before I Fall, also a New York Times bestseller. Delirium, however, exceeded my expectations with an intriguing, unique dystopian story with lovable characters and a gripping storyline. The concept seemed hard to grasp at first, since I could not possibly imagine our society without love within it, but the intrigue made the book that more interesting.
The beginning begins off slowly, making it difficult to connect with the story and relate to the characters. However, the plot quickens after the first few chapters and leaves you longing to know what will happen next. I was entirely engrossed, after getting though the slow beginning. I physically could not put the book down at one point and continued reading until I reached the heart-pumping, unexpected ending. If you find yourself a little confused and bored at the beginning, my advice is to push through and continue reading; because once you do, you will not want to stop. Oliver develops the backstory of Delirium by beginning each chapter with little snippets from their law, history, and handbooks as well as quotes and poems of the society’s culture. The first chapter begins with one from their law book, “The most dangerous sicknesses are those that make us believe we are well. – Proverb 42, The Book of Shhh.”
Set in a futuristic Portland, Maine, Lena Holloway considers herself to be an average girl, no one special. About to turn eighteen and graduate high school, she cannot wait to undergo the surgery to remove her disease of love, amor deliria nervosa, which the government believes to be the source of society’s past problems. Her mother’s death occurred because of the failure of love. Wanting to be like her cured older sister, Lena wants the surgery as soon as possible. She longs to be “normal” like the rest of society and to rid herself of the grief and pain she has felt her whole life. Her schooling and The Book of Shhh have taught her of the symptoms of catching the deliria of love. She does not know any better but to accept the preaching of the government. Anyone not cured of the disease is considered to be a rebel. The Invalids live in the Wild, a restricted area lying outside of Lena’s perfectly controlled world. Traveling to the outside is strictly prohibited; a guarded, electric fence prevents this from happening—but not always…
“Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That's what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side.”
Lena has never conversed with a boy, let alone touch one. Her society does not allow the two genders to interact or be in the presence of one another until they are cured. However, when Lena meets an older boy from the Wild, she begins to question everything she once thought she wanted: a set future with a suitable husband and a stable career, handpicked for her by the government. Lena’s best friend always rebels by sneaking out to listen to prohibited music and hang out with boys. Lena disapproves… until she meets Alex. The unimaginable occurs as she begins to fall in love with the boy from the Wild.
Starting to break the rules, Lena secretly meets Alex at night. She begins to fall deeply for the boy who is pretending to be cured. Alex reveals his past to Lena and of the possible future for her if she decides to escape and refuse the cure. She begins to imagine her life in a new light. Having nothing to lose, she makes the brave decision to leave her society for the Wild with an Invalid. Coming up with a plan, they decide they will escape to live in the Wild together. Lena has never felt so sure about anything in her life and cannot stop the spread of love that has infected her heart and soul. Their plan, however, does not go as intended. Caught and forced to stay in her house a week before her operation, Lena starts to lose all hope. Alex comes one night to rescue her. They make their escape for the Wild, but all does not go as planned.
“I run for I don't know how long. Hours, maybe, or days. Alex told me to run. So I run. You have to understand. I am no one special. I am just a single girl. I am five feet two inches tall and I am in-between in every way. But I have a secret… I love you. Remember. They cannot take it.”
The mix of romance, action, drama, and mystery allow you to fall in love with the story of Delirium, but unfortunately, it allows the ending to be so powerful that it is almost too sad to endure. If you get as attached to the characters as I did, you will have tears in your eyes as you finish. The cliffhanger continues in the second book of Oliver’s trilogy, Pandemonium. Overall, Delirium was everything I hoped for and more. From the unexpected twists to the intriguing characters to the spell-binding story, you will not be disappointed. The intended audience is for young adults but can be enjoyed by all ages. I absolutely recommend picking up a copy and diving right in if you love a dystopian story or just enjoy an enticing read with an original storyline.
I had to write a book review for my Literary Publishing class, so I decided to post this even though I previously reviewed Delirium. This review is obviously much better and longer than my typical reviews but wanted to post it here too! I will hopefully post some reviews this winter break, so be on the lookout for those :)