Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Buying this was actually Jay's idea, not mine. Truthfully? I'm a total wuss who likes happy endings. The only way I can read something that ends tragically is if I know it in advance, the way someone goes into, say, Romeo and Juliet or Antigone.

And I knew I was setting myself up for a big fall with Delirium. I won't say what happens or why it is that way, but it is. The ending will gut you if you aren't ready for it. So if you're like me? Be ready.

With that one rather large issue out in the open, I liked Delirium. It did not bowl me over in the mind-blowing way that it seems to do to most people. This may be because of what I described above, or it could just be a "me" thing. It isn't that Delirium was bad, or even 'meh'. But a lot of people have built this up to be a really huge deal and I just didn't see it that way.

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
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.

I'll give Lauren Oliver this: as a defender of romance, and a devourer of romantic fiction, there is nothing more terrifying then the idea of a society where love is considered a disease. Long before I had any concerns about how the end of the book might effect me, I was first and foremost intrigued by its absolutely terrifying premise. In regard to this premise, and the results it would create, I think that Delirium delivers everything it should. 

We see the fear that those who have not been cured, such as Lena, feel. We see the brutality and cruelty shown to those who choose not to comply. We see the absolute brokenness of those who have received treatment. As much as it may hurt to have a broken heart, I'd take a thousand of them, all at once, for a thousand years before if that was what it would take to save our society from a fate like this. It's really, truly that bad. Which was absolutely perfect and as it needed to be.

I also like how we see Lena's growth and change, and how it changes her perceptions of everyone and everything around her. She goes from staunchly supporting the systems that the government have set up to being the one who ultimately chooses to completely defy them. It's not something that is done overnight, and it is not purely her feelings for Alex, but also what those feelings allows her to recognize about the system she lives within, that eventually allows her to change. 

The Characters:

Lena was a likable main character who definitely went through some changes as the story moved along. I enjoyed, as I said earlier, the pace that this happened at and the variety of reasons that triggered it. The fact that she goes from being somewhat timid and afraid and worried about how others will see her, to having only a fear that she will not be able to live with herself (not even her concerns about being with or without Alex seemed ultimately more powerful then this, and that to me was important.) was very interesting and made the decisions she made at each part of the story seem like they made sense.

Alex was a decent enough guy. He wasn't one of those book boys that totally grabbed me, but he and Lena seemed to go well together. I like the way that the truth about him is revealed slowly and carefully, and how Lena deals with it and how it ties into her growth just as much or more then it really does into us getting to know Alex as a character. His willingness to always protect her at all costs was very noble and endearing, especially when contrasted with the harshness of the world the pair were living in. 

The rest of the cast was interesting and solid. I particularly liked Hana, in that she seemed the more brave and adventurous of her and Lena until the time came to actually take action. Gracie was incredibly interesting, too. It was very moving to see the bond between her and Lena amidst all of the emptiness or cruelty that seemed to transpire otherwise within her aunt and uncle's home. With that said, many of the "cured" characters were nothing less then chilling. They really made a strong case for why the "cure" was really not all that it was cracked up to be. 

The Romance: 

I have only two things to really say here. The first is that Lauren Oliver described the emotions that can be constituted to love, both the good and the bad, in a beautiful and vivid way that was a joy to read.

The second is that for some reason I simply could not get behind this pairing. I don't know why; they just didn't do it for me. They did not click within my mind. I knew I was suppose to want them to be together. I was suppose to be screaming / cheering / weeping / whatever was appropriate at any given time. But I felt, in some ways, like I actually was reading a tragedy in some ways. (Even though I didn't actually look up what happened -- I only knew this had a really bad cliffhanger.) In some ways I felt like I was reading Romeo & Juliet, too. Only Juliet had enough brains not to kill herself here. 

In General:

Delirium is definitely worth reading. I want to make sure that I make that really clear. I am definitely looking forward to reading the sequel when it releases. But for me, it is one of those books I'm glad I read but that I'm fairly sure I'm not going to be rushing back to again and again. (Yes, I can see some of you gawking at me like I am insane.) Before I close this, I do want to take a moment to make sure that I say that Lauren Oliver has amazing skill with describing emotions, some of the most beautiful I've ever read. 

If you haven't read Delirium you should definitely give it a go, because its message is vital and one that absolutely must be heard. 


  1. I think this is why I love it the most:

    "Lauren Oliver has amazing skill with describing emotions, some of the most beautiful I've ever read."

    It's her way with writing! I read PANDEMONIUM early, and while I didn't love it as much as I did DELIRIUM (which was one of my 2011 favorites and poor PANDEMONIUM had the bar set way too high for the sequel to ever hit it, which is my own fault), I still enjoyed it and can't wait for REQUIEM next year! Today, I'm hoping to read the four-day free novella of HANA (see her site if you want to as well!)

    Have you read INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows yet? Also a Top 3 of 2011 (though it came out this year...). Actually, it's wrestling with GRACELING for top teen fantasy spot in my heart. The bar for THAT second book is INSANELY high. I'm actually really afraid to read it next year! (I'm also afraid to read BITTERBLUE this year...)

    Do you get like that?

    1. I absolutely do! I read something that completely wows me and then I'm worried I will get my hopes up for the next one too high and damage the experience for myself.

      I really need to get Incarnate and Graceling. I haven't read either of them and I want to. (It's my birthday! They may need to go on the list for a Chapters trip...)

      I will definitely be checking out Hana. I really liked her character and would love to see things from her perspective. Great to hear from you and I hope all is going well. :D

    2. You really, really do. They're two of my favorite books EVER!! I want you to read them desperately now that I know you haven't. *anxious eyes*

      And...HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!

      I didn't get a chance to read HANA in the last four days...will have to wait for the novella release!! I liked her character as well. Can't wait to see her side. Knew there was more there!

      Ohh!! Do you have a PS3 or just an XBOX? Because if you have a PS3, my PSN ID is bunnyonthego and we should be friends there, too :)

      And...we need to form our writing group soon, yes? :)

  2. Yes, yes and yes. I should set up a contact page, because I have 360 and PS3. And we definitely do need to set up the writing thing. And even though my TBR is constantly growing I'll need to add those.


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