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Delirium by Lauren Oliver
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Feb 25, 11

it was ok
bookshelves: teens
Read in February, 2011

Was really disappointed by this one. Am extra irritated because I loved Oliver's debut, Before I Fall, and was excited at the premise of this trilogy, which has already been optioned for a Fox TV series. In the new America of the novel, everyone receives brain surgery when they turn 18 to make them incapable of feeling "deliria," or love. The book's heroine, Lena, approaching 18, is a fearful girl who longs for the procedure and fears it as well, since her mother was forced to undergo it multiple times before killing herself. Then she meets a boy who's unlike anyone she's met before, and everything changes, etc.

The world building is minimal here, and the book is completely lazy in its exploration of what love's role in society and human relationships really is. Apparently after the surgery, people are unable to love anything, which not only curtails romantic infatuation, but leads to behaviors like limited parental bonding with children and pets being thrown away with the garbage. Also, there is no entertainment, apparently, like movies or television or books that aren't didactic tracts or cautionary tales. So then why would anybody be motivated to do anything? And how do Lena and her high school friends, who are almost indistinguishable from teenagers today, escape being stilted little weirdos considering growing up in such a world?

Everything seems like a constructed excuse to create that old drama of young lovers being separated by forces beyond their control (and Romeo & Juliet is explicitly referenced). Plodding chapters are structured predictably. Writing is fine, and reference to poetry in love scenes is nice, but little that is new, interesting, or clever is brought to the table here.
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