I accidently found out about the dystopian genre. It was the summer before 8th grade and our summer reading book was The Giver by Lois Lowry. I hadI accidently found out about the dystopian genre. It was the summer before 8th grade and our summer reading book was The Giver by Lois Lowry. I had no idea what the book was about and while I was reading it, I was appalled at the society these characters lived in. I sat there, thinking to myself about Jonas's life. What is this place? How did we end up like this? It wasn't until school started that I found out about their utopia. Their perfect world― but not really. That's the punch line, of course. Their world is in fact a dystopia. I had to read 1984 by George Orwell last year for my Honors English class. (Technically, Honors Language Arts but same difference). That book was great. Loved it. Their world was scary, but the thing is, Orwell's prediction of 1984 was pretty more or less true.
Anyways, the point to that little anecdote is to emphasize that I really really like the dystopian genre. I love the world-building and how people function in said society. But most importantly, what I like most about dystopian novels is that they take flaws in our current society and amplify them. While we read, we get that oh shit feeling. That OH MY GOD, we might end up like them feeling. And to me, that is what a good dystopian does.
To me, a dystopian society is a perfect world, theoretically.
Now we enter Lena's world, where love is a disease. And people over the age of eighteen get "cured" of this sickness.
Interesting premise right? Yeah. But that goes about it.
First of all, why do I like dystopians again?
Number one: World-building
This was one of the lamest world-building I've ever read. I wanted to know so much more about America and all of its cities, even the entire planet, but the author offers little to no explanation. Do you guys watch Fox's new show, Terra Nova? The Shannon family live in an apocalyptic world and then they are shipped right off to the age of the dinosaurs. Yeah. You read that right. The writers of the show don't even go into the details of 2149. We don't know anything about future Earth besides that it's deteriorating. Like the Shannon's world, there was so much I wanted to know about Lena's world but we got nothing. How does their government work? What is their economy like? Are we still free-marketing? What is the rest of the world like? How did the world become like this? And how does this new world relate to the fact love is a physical disease? Does everyone on the entire planet believe love is a disease? Or is it just their little town in Maine? What is this cure? How does it work? Like, how do you all of a sudden erase love from the mind?
I really don't believe it's possible to take away an emotion. Ugh, like fuck that. Maybe that's why the cure doesn't always work. BUT, if I'm wrong, then how come the cure doesn't work on a lot of people? And why? How come the cure doesn't allow them to dream anymore? What does not dreaming even have to do with love? And homosexuals?! By the way, this society has labeled the act of homosexulaism (is this a word?) as Unnaturalism.. Ugh, oh my absolute god. First of all, why do people always make the argument that liking the same sex is unnatural? And I know this has nothing to do with world building, but now that I am pointing stuff out, I want to know about homosexuals and transgender. What happens to them? All we know is that they also get cured of this love disease and, I'm assuming, sets them "straight" (get the pun?) Oh my god, how does this cure just change someone's sexuality? I thought it only takes away love. But anyways, my point is the world-building of this book SUCKS.
Number two: what flaw is the author pointing out?
Love. Sure, love is a disease. That works. But what? Like, I don't have that OH SHIT moment, like this might actually happen in the future. But the fact is, I can't even be led to believe that this might happen in the future because there are so many holes the author does not fill in.
Point A: Love is a disease. And as I said, by the age of 18, one is cured with this sickness. The author lists a bunch of symptoms like sweaty palms and nervousness, but...Okay, I am going to get so technical about this. Disease means, and I quote (from wikipedia), "an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism." Okay, let's define abnormal for you guys who have not attended elementary school. Abnormal means "behavioral characteristics assigned to those with rare or dysfunctional conditions." Since when is the emotion, love, abnormal? Okay, I agree. Sadness is an emotion too, and that's not abnormal, and depression is an actual disease. But depression and deliria, which is what the love disease is called, are completely different! First of all, depression is a mental disease, and in Ms. Oliver's world, deliria is like a physical sickness. Second of all, wait screw that. Let me get to the real point. If you believe deliria will actually exist in the future, please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you. Okay, so from my knowledge of sickness, diseases can only hurt you. Depression can hurt you. Sadness can also hurt you. Scrapes and broken bones can hurt you. But love can't. I mean, it can, but unlike those other diseases, love doesn't always hurt you. It can actually make you happy times ten. In fact, love is the essential source of happiness. I don't understand how one wakes up and be like, "oh shit. Love is a disease." Did he or she not see the happiness in love? Love is literally everywhere. You're walking down the streets and you can see an infinite amount of people holding hands, laughing, kissing. In literature, love is everywhere. In music, love is everywhere. Fine, yes, love can be horrible and hurt you really badly, but there are so many many good things about it. Where there is happiness, there is love. The converse might not always hold true, but that doesn't matter. That one individual who created this disease didn't see the happiness it created for us humans?
Ugh, I don't believe it.
The author could have made deliria really believable but it's actually just laughable.
Point B: Because the author unintentionally made deliria comedic, I actually have problems with deliria itself. By the age of 18, you are cleared from any feelings of love. However, how does that work? Is that even possible? I don't understand how you can only take love out of the equation. And you're still supposed to have a family. So what does that mean? How are you supposed to care for your children if you don't love them? Like, what the actual hell? If I don't have love, which means I won't have any interests because I do not like anything, why would I care about my children or anything? Everything would be a burden to me. My life would be a burden. Literally, I would just kill myself, or escape into the Wilds because every dystopian needs a place for rebels to live right? And because love is taken out of the picture, all these people are like robots. They are so calm and stoic, which shouldn't be true. If there is no love, they should be angry, sad, and unhappy all the time. But they are not! Like, WHAT? I am so confused. They should be Zuko from the beginning of season 3 over and over again. Angry, hot headed, and a sense of uncertainty no matter how perfect everything seems. Deliria doesn't make sense.
Point C: Because love is taken out of the equation after the age of 18, shouldn't the kids and children vastly differ from adults? But they all seem the same. Like, seriously. The kids shouldn't even be able to converse with the adults. They have all these different ways of thinking. These children are so naive and have all these emotions, but the adults don't. I don't understand how they work with each other and communicate. Have you read The Little Prince? Kids= IMAGINATION, adults = numbers. Wow I'm throwing a lot of titles at you.
Point D: In this book, love is hereditary. NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. Love is inherent. I don't understand how the author came to the conclusion that we should believe love is hereditary. Because the book says so? So there are love alleles in our gene pool now? Like, what the absolute fuck?
Now, moving on to the characters, the writing, and everything else.
You annoy me beyond belief. She literally reminds me of Tally from Scott Westerfield's Ugly series. They're both determined in getting the surgery, or in this case, the cure. Not only is Lena so stubborn, but she is so so so insecure and unconfident. She's always saying how she's in between. Not special, but not not special. Not beautiful, but not ugly. And she is also so boring! Literally a big blah. So stingy and uptight. I understand why she acts the way she acts, but is that really that necessary? It is time to let go and grow up. She has to face the truth, instead of running away from it and hoping the cure can fix everything. Ugh. Be brave! Please. For the love of the readers.
And now we have Hana, Lena's best friend.
And as we're comparing Lena to Tally, I would also like to compare Hana to Shay. These two girls are the opposites of Lena/Tally. Lena/Tally go with the flow and are stuck to society's norms, while Hana/Shay think outside the box and are rebellious. However, Shay actually had friends who felt that way too. But what about Hana? How does she just wake up one day and be like, oh hey I think this cure idea sucks. I get how her family would have played a part in this, but I don't follow.
Alex, our male lead!
Okay, Alex. I thought you were swoonable at first, but it turns out that you kind of remind me of Edward Cullen. (But the only reason why Edward Cullen is actually swoonable is because I read Twilight in 8th grade and I fell in love with him) Alex smiles crookedly too. Great.
Maybe I should finish the book before I start comparing all these characters to all these stories.
Let's go on to Ms. Oliver's writing now.
She uses so many similes and metaphors. It was cool at first, but as it continued, I was just like, please no. And I found a really really really interesting paragraph/long-ass sentence (chapter 8):
"Little fingers of electricity creep up my spine, a feeling I used to have when I was a tiny child, when I would creep into the kitchen and try to sneak an extra cookie from the pantry―the feeling right before the creak and squeak of my mom's footsteps in the kitchen behind me, when I would whirl around, my hands and face coated in crumbs, guilty."
Sure, of course we couldn't have understood that sentence/paragraph in less than 66 words, thank you very much Ms. Oliver.
I'm giving this book 1.5 stars for now because Delirium is starting to pick up and things are getting interesting, but of course, still not interesting enough. And I don't round, duhhhh.