Donna's Reviews > Delirium

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
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Jan 14, 12

bookshelves: best-bitten, squeemers, dystopian, young-adult
Read in February, 2011

Wow. There are few words to describe this book but one of them is that. Wow.

Every word of this story burrowed under my skin and festered there, leaving me starving for more once the story ended. It's funny because as much as I loved the story, I want to say it was too long. And I really think it was. For every lyrical word I read, I felt a good third of them could have been chopped and still maintained the dignity and integrity of the story in its entirety. If it were shorter, I don't think I would have missed anything. I would have still found myself as attached to the story as I am now. But at the end of the day, I didn't mind reading all of those extra words. They just put more fluffy in the bed of story I was lying in.

I loved seeing Lena change as the story progressed and watching her become her own Hana without realizing it until it'd already happened. I'm not a big fan of playing up the "I'm so normal" schtick that YA female protags have a tendency of doing but it's what's in the seemingly "normal" that the story lies. There is a point to it so if you find yourself rolling your eyes as you read about yet another teen MC finding herself plain next to her gorgeous best friend, just hold it out. It redeems itself. Although what I found pretty pointless was the constant mentioning of Lena's height. By the end of the book I couldn't place its relevance to the overall story. I didn't get why it was mentioned constantly. Can anyone else help me out here?

What I really liked was how Oliver had a way with such seemingly little lines that did such an amazing job of portraying Lena's naivety exactly how it was, without pretenses. My favorites:
"I hate it when my aunt looks at me like that, like she's reading all the bad parts from my soul." (pg. 71)

"It's [The Telltale Heart] supposed to be a story about guilt and the dangers of civil disobedience, but when I first read it I thought it seemed kind of lame and melodramatic. Now I get it, though. Poe must have snuck out a lot when he was young." (pg. 117)
I'm a fan of Romeo & Juliet and I really liked the way Oliver bled that theme over into Delirium. In reality, it's a pretty commonly-used trope, especially in YA, but I really liked it here. Alex is the type of YA guy that needs to be permeated throughout YA fiction. He's not a dick, he's not a stalker, he treats Lena how she should be treated. Shock! So I was really pushing for the two to end up together because I found him such a redeeming and valuable character to the story.

I thought the world Oliver developed was absolutely amazing. More than once I found myself getting audibly revolted with how that society functioned. Lobotomizing the population as a means to control them? How terrifying is that? It's the nineteenth century redux. I also liked how the vantage point rose up off of Lena's shoulders every once in a while so the reader got a better view of the world. How it's all fenced in and electrified and the crazy that lies behind its borders (and within it). I also liked how the illusion broke down as the story went on, shattering the safe indoctrination Lena got as she was growing up. Really I liked how Delirium can be viewed as what can happen when the government takes protecting us from ourselves a little too far. It's scary and who's to say it couldn't happen? Really?

I haven't read Before I Fall but if the writing is anything like Delirium, I'm going to swallow the thing whole. This book induces some serious writer envy in me. It's a level that I would strive to reach and can only dream of achieving. I have no doubt Delirium will prevail as one of the defining novels of dystopian literature for years to come. It doesn't always have to be about society totally breaking down. This one's all about society winding itself far too tight. If you're looking for a dystopian book that doesn't involve society functioning at its basest animal instincts for survival, Delirium is it. And the writing and plot and characters are all fantastic enough to suck you in and hold you strong as well. I wouldn't want to forget mentioning that.
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message 1: by Heather (new) - added it

Heather I've heard so many different reviews for this one. A couple of friends absolutely hated it or just thought it was meh and others just loved it. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt since I absolutely loved Before I Fall. Great review! Makes me want to push this one to the top of the pile!


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