kari's Reviews > Delirium

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
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Apr 05, 13

bookshelves: 2011, ya
Read in May, 2011


This has all the elements of being a very exciting story, but sad to say, it isn't. The last fifty pages lift it from a two star, barely, but can't save the entirety of the book.
First of all, it's simply too long for what is in here. The storyline isn't bad, but it's far too minutely descriptive and all I can think is, well, this is going to be stretched out to fill three books so, of course, it's overly descriptive. Something has to fill all those pages. Too bad it isn't the story, but street by street bicycling and walking or running. And the sights and smells over and over and over. There are some things that are described in almost the same way several times. This is unneccessary.
And while we're on the subject of unneccessary, I know that Lena is five foot, two. I got that the first time I was told and it didn't need repetition. It was not in need of repetition. Or to put it a little differently while still giving you the same information again: it didn't need repeating.
This whole story could have been tightened up and more than likely the whole proposed three installments would fit within the pages of one book.
I get it, I really do. Why write one book when you can hook readers into three? I mean, it's three sales, three times the money, so kudos to the author on that, but the story really needs to be strong enough to make readers keep coming back for more.
And, as usual, it ends on something of a cliff-hanger so, as a reader, I'm left disappointed.
However, there are things that I really liked about the story and for which I applaud Lauren Oliver and which make me think she's capable of better than what's here.
The chapter headings with quotes from The Book of SHHH, nursery rhymes, playground chants, Comprehensive Compilation of Dangerous Words and Ideas, government pamphlets, schoolbooks and others are simply brilliant and add to the story in subtle ways. Amor Deliria Nervosa sounds like what doctors might call love if they wanted to classify it as a disease. There are lots of little tidbits like this that are clever and creative and make me wish for more from this book.
I also really like that she put in that indifference, not hate, is the opposite of love. It's a thoughtful small conversation, but it is also the basis of the story. The government has decided that they prefer the people to be indifferent, uncaring, and I think that actually is rather profound.
I did like the characters. I've heard the complaint that Lena has no personality and I think that's true, but she lives in a society that having no personality is considered a good thing. No one is encouraged to be different or have interests or feel passionate about anything so the fact that she's fairly unformed makes sense for the world she lives in. When she finally makes her choices, her life opens up and she finds a strength in herself.
The character of Alex is well-drawn and his attraction to her makes sense. I liked them together.
One of the problems with the writing of the book is that the first few chapters introduce lots of characters and backstory and it's kind of a lot to slog through. And yet, even with all of that, too much isn't fully explained or developed. How did they come up with the idea that love is a disease?
The action really doesn't pick up until the final hundred pages and then there are some surprises, but by that time I was already a bit bored.
Additionally, there are some continuity errors. When things like this happen, it stops the story for me. I have to go back and reference the information. In a book that repeats itself as much as this one does, you'd think it would be easy to keep the facts straight.
For instance, Lena lives in a two-story house except that at one time she thinks that her aunt and uncle's whole apartment would fit in the living room of a house she's in. Or she's playing in the ocean with Alex and it says how her shoes are filled with water several times, but she had kicked her shoes off when she got to the beach and she grabs them up to put back on when she runs out of the water. That was within a few pages so it should have been easy to keep that straight.
The most flagrant one was the time left until Lena's cure which skips all around. When it's down to just seventeen days, her aunt says it's several weeks away. Seventeen days is two and a half weeks, not several. Small things, I know, but it interrupted the flow of a story which was already dragging and not flowing well.
I think it would have made for a much more interesting dynamic and Lena's choice would have been more dramatic had her paired boy been someone as good as or close to as good as Alex. Instead we get this short guy who is snotty (literally, he has allergies to everything, so he's full of snot), listless and unattractive to Lena. It would have added some tenson if he had been a possible choice, someone with whom she could at least be content. Not that I'm suggesting a love triangle, not at all, oh no, but I think her pair being someone less repulsive (not that short guys are repulsive, but the mucus factor...) would have made her choice more of a choice instead of making it seem to be the only possible choice.
In this world you can be executed for breaking the rules and yet, Lena does so almost every day after she meets Alex. At one point they are walking down the street together on opposite sides of the sidewalk to make it appear they aren't walking together. Um, how big exactly is this sidewalk? If I saw two people walking along side by side, I'd assume they are together, even if they are walking on opposite sides. I had to read this over because I thought it was opposite sides of the street, but nope, sidewalk in broad daylight. This made no sense to me.
Last, but not least, the motorcycle. While I do love me some hero riding in on a white horse or, in place of that, a shiny motorcycle, there needs to be at least a bit of dialogue on how this happened. How about, "Where did you get this?" shouted over the sound of the engine with, "Stole it!" as a reply. At least give me this much or earlier in the book tell me he has a motorcyle. This came out of nowhere, almost a deus ex machina or, in this case, deus ex motorcycle.
All in all, not a bad read, not the best.
Will I read the next books? *frustrated sigh* Probably.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 59) (59 new)


Dayna I agree with your review!! It had such a good plot and good characters but nothing was going on!!! Lena went to a few parties why didn't Oliver get more descriptive there or make more happen. I also felt the romance could've been better. It didn't feel like two teenagers (with hormones) in love. I'm 38 (and 4'11 haha) and I remember butterflies and all that stuff. I just didn't feel it from them I guess. In twilight I felt it!! I'll read the next one also because I did develop an interest for the characters. I just hope it gets better!


kari I agree completely Dayna. I wanted more of the characters and feelings and less wandering around town. It has the possibility to be much better so I hope the next book improves. Thanks for the comment.


message 3: by barb (new) - rated it 1 star

barb Since we seem to agree on books, I've just started this, but now I see your review I'm not sure I will continue. I'm about 6 chapters in and so far... meh. Not sure if I can slog through it all for the last 100 pages. I'll keep going though! Her sentence structure & descriptions are off-putting to me.


kari If you're interested at all, just skip ahead and read the last fifty or so pages, you'll get all the important info there. This one didn't flow at all for me either.
And I know she can make parties and teenage life compelling because Before I Fall is one day played over and over and it works. This one is a disappointment.


message 5: by Nicole (new) - added it

Nicole I agree with your comment wasn't overly impressed, but the last few pages left me on the edge of my seat. Didn't realize this was a trilogy until the end and reluctantly I can't start a series without finishing it wish authors could write just one book once in a while it gets hard to keep track of all the series!!


kari Oh I hear you! I am so tired of all these books being series when really if the plots were tightened and most of the junk removed, you'd have one good book instead of three or more mediocre ones. I agree 100%.


message 7: by Bridget (new) - added it

Bridget That is so true!


kari And I know this author can do so much better as she managed to make the repeat of one day exciting and involving.


Trudee Bealka I agree with your review and also did like the book. Her writing has a way about it. What I had a hard time with is the isolation of just one emotion. I don't see love as a single emotion at all but a combination of many emotions. If all of those emotions making up love are removed, you would be left with an instinctual society that in my opinion would not act like they did. Putting that aside, i enjoyed it. Do I want to wait a year before the story is finished, no. Will I, yes. I miss the days where a book was a book and not part of a set distributed over a lengthy period of time. But if it keeps people reading I'll go along with it even though I don't need that motivation.


message 10: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Trudee wrote: "I agree with your review and also did like the book. Her writing has a way about it. What I had a hard time with is the isolation of just one emotion. I don't see love as a single emotion at all..."

Oh, I so much agree. I just want a book with a beginning and satisfying end with no run-on series. But, even so, I will read the sequels and hope they will get tighter in the plotting and less descriptive of here, there and everywhere.
That's true that love isn't one simple thing and if you completely remove all traces of it, then what makes a parent care for their child or children care for their parents? Or did they just remove romantic love which would be even trickier because there are endless varieties and combinations there as well. That's a good thought though, that it isn't one emotion. I hadn't even thought of that.


Caroline I enjoyed this book, but I completely agree with you about the continuity issue. It seems minor, but that issue with Lena's shoes at the beach bugged the heck out of me! LOL. I was reading that Oliver was an editorial assistant for a major publishing house in NYC before writing full time; I can't understand how this kind of glaring error made it into her final manuscript. In addition to the shoes error, I also pointed out in my own review that I thought the issue of the Lena's dog bite being remedied by bandages and bacitracin was just ridiculous. I can only suspend my disbelief so far--and I don't think that was the part I was supposed to suspend my disbelief either. :D That just bugged me. I remember thinking what huge repercussions that bite was going to have, how her aunt would find out everything now about Lena having this romance and whatnot, but no. I did like this book an awful lot, but those little things really could have been easily been taken care of, in my opinion.


message 12: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Oh, you are so right. I forgot that dog bite, but I imagined this huge bandage and no one questioned her about it. That didn't make sense to me either. Like you, I did like the book and think it could have done with some better editing. Things like that completely pull my focus and I read over that beach scene three times or so to make sure I read what I thought. Yes, I know, it doesn't really matter, but it bugs me that much. LOL


message 13: by Joy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy I agree with every single thing you said.. I also noticed the weird time keeping until her procedure. There was one spot in particular that said she had 17 days left and then two more days went by and she said again there were 17 days left.. It took me 3 weeks to get through this book because I felt like it just dragged along and nothing was keeping me glued.


message 14: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Joy wrote: "I agree with every single thing you said.. I also noticed the weird time keeping until her procedure. There was one spot in particular that said she had 17 days left and then two more days went by ..."

Thanks. There were just so many unimportant things that went on and on, where she was walking or bicycling with all this detail that didn't matter and yet the time until the procedure, the detail that did matter and should have been kept very precise, jumped all over. That really bugged me, too.


message 15: by Mel (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mel Sharpe I can't agree more with your review! I'm really not a great reader and get easily confused during novels, so I assumed it was just me! All those inconsistent details... Isn't that what editors and proofreaders are for?

All that being said, I plan on reading the full series. I'm about to start on Pandemonium... It has less pages so maybe there's less repetition? lol


message 16: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Mel wrote: "I can't agree more with your review! I'm really not a great reader and get easily confused during novels, so I assumed it was just me! All those inconsistent details... Isn't that what editors and ..."

I hope you enjoy it. I've read all the books including the separate stories(Which don't really add anything) and I was disappointed, but hopefully you will like it. Thanks for the comment.


Louise Very slow story I read the first fifty pages and the last hundred no way I'm going to waste any money on the next book when their are so many fantastic stories sorry!


Mirkat The thing with the shoes really bothered me, too--so glad I'm not alone. It's as if she had shoes under her shoes. ;)


message 19: by Erin (new) - rated it 3 stars

Erin kari I agree with everything you said too. I think you should be an editor. With that said I have read all 3 books and really wish the first one would have been shorter and the 3rd book to have been longer at the end. with all of the descriptions the first book had I expected a better conclusion at the end. I am really disappointed. good books but not great. it had great potential but execution was flawed.


message 20: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Louise wrote: "Very slow story I read the first fifty pages and the last hundred no way I'm going to waste any money on the next book when their are so many fantastic stories sorry!"

You are so right. Go on to something more worthwhile.


message 21: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Mirkat wrote: "The thing with the shoes really bothered me, too--so glad I'm not alone. It's as if she had shoes under her shoes. ;)"

Things like that just bug me so much. I reread those pages three times trying to find where she had put her shoes back on or something, but nope. Perhaps in this world wearing shoes with shoes is typical. LOL


message 22: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Erin wrote: "kari I agree with everything you said too. I think you should be an editor. With that said I have read all 3 books and really wish the first one would have been shorter and the 3rd book to have be..."

I think had she tightened and hired a GOOD proof-reader and then finished with a REAL ending, I could recommend this, but it just added up to a whole lot of nothing. If all the walking and running and hiking and what-have-you had been removed, she could have crafted one strong story, assuming she would then give an actual ending.


Beth_hattenburg One thing that also got repeated too many times was the fact that Alex had "burnt golden-brown hair--the color of leaves in autumn"


Mirkat Beth_hattenburg wrote: "One thing that also got repeated too many times was the fact that Alex had "burnt golden-brown hair--the color of leaves in autumn""

Ha, yes--I got really tired of his hair, too.


message 25: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Yes! Just in case you forgot the color of his hair


Caroline Beth_hattenburg wrote: "One thing that also got repeated too many times was the fact that Alex had "burnt golden-brown hair--the color of leaves in autumn""

YES! o.O Because ya know, the color of his hair is soooo important.


message 27: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari As is the fact that she is . . . how tall was it again? Oh yeah, five foot two!


Mirkat Also, she's an in-between girl. Nothing special. ;)


Caroline kari wrote: "As is the fact that she is . . . how tall was it again? Oh yeah, five foot two!"

Kari, that's like in Divergent how we hear over and over and over and over that Tris is short or has short legs or can't see over the heads in a crowd or whatnot. We GET IT. She's SHORT! It's not that important! Why do authors focus on dumb things like this? Makes no sense to mention it if these details have no relevance to the story.


Mirkat Similarly, Kyla of Slated is "five foot nothing." I even wrote in my review for that that I'm tired of all the short girls in these YA dystopian novels. Bring on the Amazons! ;)


message 31: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Mirkat wrote: "Also, she's an in-between girl. Nothing special. ;)"

OH, aren't they all? lol


message 32: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Caroline wrote: "kari wrote: "As is the fact that she is . . . how tall was it again? Oh yeah, five foot two!"

Kari, that's like in Divergent how we hear over and over and over and over that Tris is short or has s..."


Very true. And why isn't anyone just average size? Are doll-sized girls more attractive to readers?


message 33: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Mirkat wrote: "Similarly, Kyla of
Slated
is "five foot nothing." I even wrote in my review for that that I'm tired of all the short girls in these YA dystopian novels. Bring on the Amazons! ;)"



I agree. I really like when the heroine is a larger than average size and is just fine with it, not spending all her time angsting over how she isn't tiny.


Caroline Mirkat wrote: "Similarly, Kyla of
Slated
is "five foot nothing." I even wrote in my review for that that I'm tired of all the short girls in these YA dystopian novels. Bring on the Amazons! ;)"


Yeah. It is really weird that they're all short. Why? Is it just coincidence? I'm only 5'3", so it's kinda cool for me to read about these protagonists (especially the kick-ass ones!) being short, but it's still weird that SO MANY of them are!


Mirkat Maybe someone at the YA division of a major publisher did market research and found that some large percentage of their target audience identifies with short teen-girl protagonists.


Caroline I also was thinking that maybe it somehow has more impact when a small heroine comes into her own or does kick-ass things.


message 37: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Caroline wrote: "Mirkat wrote: "Similarly, Kyla of
Slated
is "five foot nothing." I even wrote in my review for that that I'm tired of all the short girls in these YA dystopian novels. Bring on the Amazons! ..."


That's a good point. These tiny little girls are powerful.


message 38: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Mirkat wrote: "Maybe someone at the YA division of a major publisher did market research and found that some large percentage of their target audience identifies with short teen-girl protagonists."

Probably true. Could be editing notes: "Make her smaller, the smaller the better!" lol


message 39: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Caroline wrote: "I also was thinking that maybe it somehow has more impact when a small heroine comes into her own or does kick-ass things."

True. I guess we'd expect a bigger girl to be able to hold her own while a smaller one is more of a surprise. Or would be if we didn't read it over and over in every book. ☺


Mirkat kari wrote: "Or would be if we didn't read it over and over in every book."

Ha, this. It reminds me of how, after having watching several seasons of Buffy, a story with a male vampire slayer had me thinking, "A male vampire slayer? That's weird." ;)


message 41: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Mirkat wrote: "kari wrote: "Or would be if we didn't read it over and over in every book."

Ha, this. It reminds me of how, after having watching several seasons of Buffy, a story with a male vampire slayer had ..."


True. lol


Molly This entire conversation just had me cracking up! I'm new to the dystopian genre, just read Hunger Games, actually, then Divergent and now this... was feeling like a giant at a whopping 5'6"!


Caroline Molly wrote: "This entire conversation just had me cracking up! I'm new to the dystopian genre, just read Hunger Games, actually, then Divergent and now this... was feeling like a giant at a whopping 5'6"!"

Ha! Molly, try Unwind. I think Risa is tall! :]


message 44: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari I'd agree. Unwind us fabulous. Terrific world building. Great characters who are smart, grow, etc.


Caroline Kari, did you read UnWholly yet? I read it a month or so ago and loved it, possibly liked it more than Unwind.


message 46: by kari (last edited Aug 19, 2013 07:03AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Caroline wrote: "Kari, did you read UnWholly yet? I read it a month or so ago and loved it, possibly liked it more than Unwind."

Yes, I did read it and LOVED it. One of the few times when the next book is every bit as strong, if not stronger, than the first book. I have never been so conflicted over a character, I think you know the one I mean. I want to sympathize, but I kind feel mostly loathing. Did you read the little story Unstrung? It is a connection and explains a bit more about it. I can't wait for the next book and see where that story is going and how it is all going to end. Wow, what a wild ride.


Caroline Kari, I haven't read Unstrung yet; thanks for the reminder that I need to get my hands on that! And guess what? It's going to be a quartet. That's right; this series will be FOUR books, not three. I'm pretty excited. Apparently, the third book would have been too long so needed to be divided. (Ha! No pun intended!)


message 48: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Oh, have the tissues ready. Unstrung made me sob.
It is the story of where Lev went, what changed him. Hauntingly, beautifully heart breaking.


message 49: by kari (new) - rated it 3 stars

kari Four books is fabulous news. I was so nervous when there was going to be a sequel because I thought the Unwind ending was so good, although somewhat open. But this is s very strong series


Caroline I read an early review of the third book here on GR that was very praise-worthy, and it sounds like a fourth book makes sense (as opposed to Shusterman writing a fourth to milk this series as much as possible). I'm so excited about this!


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