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.
Delirium is amazing. I was pretty emotional reading Lauren’s debut novel Before I Fall, but I ended up loving it and was eagerly awaiting her second book…this one. So worth the wait, so very worth it.
Delirium fits perfectly with the criteria I have in my head that makes a book a true dystopia. Lena’s world seems perfect in idea – the US government has found love to be a disease, and without it, everything would be so much better. Without love, there would be no crime, war, hate – no more chaos. And so love is cured. Towns in the US are fenced in, protecting the people from the rest of the country – the Wilds – and the rest of the world (presumably, still uncured). But like a true dystopia, down under the perfect outerview of this society, lies something dark and warped. Lena comes to realize that maybe her town of Portland, Maine is not so ideal after all, and that maybe, the cure is not the answer.
Lena’s growth from conditioned member of society into a strong-willed, independent thinker is spot on. To follow with her as she realizes that all she knows, is not all she wants, is such a journey. I just wanted to strangle her at the beginning, because she believed in what she’s been told her whole life, and is anxiously waiting her cure, but I wanted her to join Hana and listen to loud, screeching music, and dance and fraternize with boys and to maybe, just maybe, see that there is something missing in people after the cure, something vital. And then Alex arrives on the scene, and Lena, she resists so much at first, but the disease takes hold. Everything seems better, then – Lena is realizing what love can be, and starts to question everything about the disease, the deliria. I was amazed at the twists to history that was done in order to have society think that love is a disease, and had always been known as such (Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet is a cautionary tale – not a love story!), and the created quotes from poems, books and pamphlets that Lauren placed at the opening of each chapter. I felt so immersed in this world, so informed of backstory without even being directly told – I loved it.
The story trots along at such a nice pace, slow and steady, but still somehow tense and erratic like a heartbeat of someone afraid (Lena) – until the end, when things explode in spectacular fashion and Lena and Alex are in trouble, and oh man…I was in tears. I was holding my breath at the end, wanting it to not be the end, because it just couldn’t be! But it’s Lauren Oliver, who’s first book had a bittersweet ending, and dystopia to boot, so why was I even hoping – aching – for a happily-ever-after end? Because I wanted one for Lena and Alex, so badly. I’m trying not to give anything away, I don’t know how well it’s working. I just have to say, Lauren is a master at sentences that just punch you in the gut and wrench some form of strong emotion from you. She did it in Before I Fall, and she does it again with the closing few sentences of Delirium.
Delirium is character driven dystopia at its best. When a story can make me feel so many different emotions, and put its main character through so much headache and heartache in just 400 some pages, then I say it’s done its job. Especially when I’m craving a sequel as soon as I turn the last page, eyes blurry from happy-sad tears. I want Lena to thrive. I want this crazy, messed up, loveless, United States to be turned on its head and upside down. This is a scary world to contemplate living in, and it’s presented masterfully.
Thank you so much to HarperCollinsCanada for sending me a review copy!