This concept could easily have gone awry. Stories about love tend to go that way sometimes. They wander into the realm(Originally on the blog, here.)
This concept could easily have gone awry. Stories about love tend to go that way sometimes. They wander into the realm of cheese and never return, which I think is a shame, because there is a way to write about romantic love without breaking out the Velveeta. And Lauren Oliver does it.
A few reasons why I loved this book:
1. It was well-written. Lauren Oliver strings words together like a poet-- she makes beautiful things surprising, if that makes sense. Sometimes writers fall back on the expected, and it can still be beautiful, but that's not Delirium. Unexpected and stunning-- that's how I would describe the writing.
Read this quote: "Somewhere deeper in the city a motor is running, a distant, earthy growl, like an animal panting. In a few hours the bright blush of morning will push through all that darkness, and shapes will reassert themselves, and people will wake up and yawn and brew coffee and get ready for work, everything the same as usual. Life will go on. Something aches at the very core of me, something ancient and deep and stronger than words: the filament that joins each of us to the root of existence, that ancient thing unfurling and resisting and grappling, desperately for a foothold, a way to stay here, breathe, keep going."
2. The world felt real. With some dystopian books, I have trouble believing that the world could actually turn out that way, even given the right set of circumstances. But with Delirium, I got the sense that it took place in an actual neighborhood, one that I could go and see, but with this looming sense of awfulness that is the fact that no one loves each other, no one can love each other. It's just a few notches away from where we are-- add a few dashes of government control and a "cure" for love and a few more rules/procedures/rituals and you have the world of Delirium. It does not feel like somewhere else; it feels like here.
One thing that helped this were the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, taken from made-up historical/religious/etc. documents related to the "dystopian concept". They gave me the sense that this entire movement in history had occurred before the opening of the novel, and that if I kept reading I could connect the dots from where I stand today and where Lena stood in the narrative.
3. It wasn't just a love story. Oliver's focus is not just on how romantic relationships are impacted by the love cure; she also went into the realm of family and friendship, too. About how those relationships break without love, and about how friendships would change without love. What I love about this is the way it's done-- with subtlety, so that you almost don't notice how terrible things are until suddenly, you do, and you ache for what Lena has lost as a result of the world's dissolution. Something I'd like to see more of in YA books is an exploration of many different kinds of relationships, not just romantic ones, so this book did that for me.
4. The ending. I'm not going to tell you what happens. But...AHHHH....more
I started to read this book at about 10PM, thinking I would just get through a chapter and come back to it later, but that didn't happen. I stayed upI started to read this book at about 10PM, thinking I would just get through a chapter and come back to it later, but that didn't happen. I stayed up until 2AM. What first sucked me in was Bianca's voice, which I found funny and engaging. But what really kept me going was my sudden and inexplicable love for Wesley. This book is well-paced and well-written, but its greatest strength lies in its characters. They are interesting, likable (even when they're doing things I don't approve of!), and they felt real to me even weeks after I finished the book. ...more
Much has been said about how important this book is for teens, particularly those who have experienced what Melinda experiences, and I agree with thatMuch has been said about how important this book is for teens, particularly those who have experienced what Melinda experiences, and I agree with that. But what I was surprised to discover as I read it was that I really enjoyed it, apart from its "message". It did not beat me over the head with its depressing-ness--it was understated, not unbearable. Likewise, even the message wasn't heavy-handed. Melinda's voice is rich, authentic, and often funny. Despite its tendency toward description and introspection, I thought the book was paced well. I really enjoyed it, and would recommend it even to people who, like me, are a little oversensitive....more
I don't always gravitate toward high fantasy (although perhaps I just haven't read enough of it), but I really enjo(Updated, now that the book is out)
I don't always gravitate toward high fantasy (although perhaps I just haven't read enough of it), but I really enjoyed this book. First of all, the main character, Elisa, was well-rounded and interesting. She transforms from an uncertain girl with low self-esteem to a strong woman who knows who she is, and I loved watching her change. Sometimes I got annoyed with her, but I think that's the mark of a good character--you don't always like them, just like you don't always like your friends or your family or your peers, but you do always root for them.
I also thought the world was really interesting, especially what the author did with religion. It's unique and fascinating. I feel like I should say that if the word "religion" makes you feel squicky, I understand how that feels (I've felt that way at certain points in my life, and still do sometimes), but I encourage you to approach this book with an open mind. The religion is essential to the plot, and therefore doesn't feel tacked on in a preachy way. Really, the book is also about Elisa figuring out what she thinks and believes apart from what she's been told by others, which I think is something everyone can identify with.
Carson also isn't afraid to dive into the uglier aspects of a dangerous world, something I always appreciate, because the ugliness makes the world feel real, and the situation, dire. And Elisa, who has both fantasy-world problems and teenage girl problems, feels real within that world.
Basically: there are powerful characters and an engaging plot and a well-crafted world in this book, and it came out today, so if it sounds intriguing to you, go forth and read!...more
If you're thinking, "Oh no, another paranormal book involving werewolves": stop. And read. This book is more than that. It's smart and well-crafted, aIf you're thinking, "Oh no, another paranormal book involving werewolves": stop. And read. This book is more than that. It's smart and well-crafted, and there is something really powerful and authentic about the way Calla slowly realizes that what she has always known and embraced is not necessarily accurate or right-- and her character (strong, but flawed), her struggle, and the group dynamics Cremer examines really carried the book for me. Although the writing and the chemistry among all the characters are certainly nothing to sneeze at either....more
Ever since I was young, I have had a strict dragon-avoiding policy, but I decided to temporarily suspend it for FIRELIGHT, and I'm glad I did. The booEver since I was young, I have had a strict dragon-avoiding policy, but I decided to temporarily suspend it for FIRELIGHT, and I'm glad I did. The book is about a girl named Jacinda who is a draki (sort of a human-dragon combo deal) who is forced to flee her home, and winds up falling for a boy whose family hunts Jacinda's kind. What I most appreciated about the book is Jacinda's character. She seemed to know exactly who she was, and wanted to stay that way. I especially enjoyed Jacinda's determination to cling to her identity no matter how difficult or painful it was-- and I loved the role that Will, the love interest, played in that struggle. The two characters had great chemistry-- my favorite scenes are the ones in which Will and Jacinda are together, which is definitely a good sign for a paranormal romance-- but their romance also wasn't based purely on physical attraction, which I appreciated. I found myself wishing that the end had been more satisfying in terms of resolving some of the conflicts the book builds up, but I'll definitely be reading the next installment....more