Molly's Reviews > Delirium

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
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Sep 09, 11

bookshelves: dystopia, ya-lit, 3-and-a-half-stars, good-concept-poor-execution, i-want-to-like-you
Read from September 02 to 08, 2011

I loved Before I Fall, so I went into this with high expectations. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I never thought I'd say this, but I may have reached a point of dystopia fatigue. There's so much of it saturating the YA market right now (thanks in large part to the Hunger Games, which is amazing), and after a while it all starts to run together. In fact, isn't there another book that came out over the summer with an almost identical story? Matched?

The novel does follow the classic dystopian structure: protagonist who is discontent with the current way of life and wants out. Lena's internal conflict is interesting (at first anyway), because of the backstory Oliver weaves involving her mother, who could not be "cured" of the so-called virus of love. At first, it's easy to get behind Lena -- it's completely unfair to take away a person's choice at only 18 (well, any age really!) and set them on a course to a life they may not want. And the "cure" is basically brain damage; Oliver drops hints throughout that sometimes the cure goes wrong or doesn't take and people end up vegetables. Or worse.

All of that is fine. Intriguing even! But then, as expected, Lena meets a boy, and after Alex entered the picture, I got a strong Twilight vibe from the rest of the story. Lena is uncomfortable with the idea of the procedure because it will take away her choice, but she's absolutely sure she wants to stay with Alex for the rest of her life -- forever -- because at age 17 she can't imagine wanting anything else.

This line of logic makes me extremely uncomfortable. The idea that you not only can, but should, know exactly what you want -- for the rest of your life -- at 17 is insane. Sure, there are some people who do, and that's perfectly fine, but there are far more people who need time -- years -- to figure that out. I don't like that there are so many books on the market featuring characters who make huge life-altering choices at young ages, with little thought to the consequences. How long have Lena and Alex known each other? A few months? Maybe I'm not enough of a romantic, but I have a hard time getting on board with their decisions.

On the plus side, there are some great characters and hinted-at stories here. I would have loved to know more about Hana, Lena's best friend. And her mother's story, apparently taking place during the conversion, seems like it would have made a far more interesting novel.
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