Steph Su's Reviews > Delirium

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
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May 28, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: bea10, did-not-finish, dystopian-romance

I dreaded this happening. DELIRIUM had been built up so much almost a whole year before its publication date that I wondered what I was going to do if I did not like it as much as the majority of other YA readers did. But I can’t deny that it wasn’t the book for me…and I’ll try to explain why.

DELIRIUM is an impeccably crafted novel, and Lauren Oliver has a beautiful way with words. Still, those do very little for me if I cannot believe and invest in the essentials of the story and world…starting with Lena. Pardon me while I throw up my hands and despair yet again at why people insist on having main characters whom everyone else considers special and strong, but really isn’t…and not because of humility, but because they really do not display any actions or thoughts that I’d consider indicative of “strength,” and because they really are, in fact, just plain boring and bland. Lena talks at length about her unusually vibrant mother and how she feels different than everyone else, but little of her actions (or lack thereof) really show me that.

None of the other characters in DELIRIUM really felt real to me, either. The romance between Lena and Alex was more about this inexplicable attraction between the two of them than any substantial development of a relationship. In fact, the narration seems to spend more time describing why this character or other should be a certain way instead of just letting the characters be the way they want us to see them as. Does that make sense? As a reader, I value my ability to figure out what the author intends for characters’ personalities instead of them being analyzed to death by the narration. As far as characterization goes, I definitely think that less (analysis) is more (details).

But what didn’t work for me right from the start was the premise of DELIRIUM. Don’t get me wrong: if done right, I’m a sucker for the dystopian love-is-bad setup. But DELIRIUM failed to convince me of the world’s—shall we say, “fullness.” Perhaps this is because DELIRIUM arrives in the midst of a slew of other YA dystopian novels in which love is considered dangerous. It’s a hard premise to develop well, let’s just say that upfront! Nevertheless, as the pages passed, I found myself wondering: from what did this start? How does the science behind the cure actually work? Why do they allow those “dangerous” Uncured rebels to live in the wild without striking them down with all of their might? And then—if the society is supposedly so strict, why does Lena so easily escape the notice of all the Regulators on her law-breaking midnight bike ride? And then—how the hell would a group of people be able to have a typical high school beer-n-music barn party in this society? If that didn’t smack you upside the head as a blatant setup for another chance encounter between Lena and Alex, then I don’t know what will. I just…didn’t think the setup behind Lena’s society was thought through well enough to convince me that the characters fully lived in this world.

The writing is wonderful, but that will not do it for me if the protagonist, supporting characters, and premise of the book do not feel complete. I’m sure that many readers will be so captivated by the lyricism and philosophical provocation to let my issues with the book hinder them, and rightfully so for the book. Still, though, this is what I thought of it.
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Reading Progress

02/01/2011 page 38
9.0% "Quite dramatic so far." 1 comment
02/04/2011 page 113
26.0% 1 comment
02/15/2011 page 150
34.0% "I'm still not feeling this. :/"
02/21/2016 marked as: did-not-finish

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Alyssa sheaths alex...3

Nicki You put into words what I couldn't! The part about less narrating and analysis and needing more characterization through actions was exactly my biggest problem!

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