Becky's Reviews > Delirium

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
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's review
Oct 29, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: missing-parent-syndrome
Recommended for: anyone looking for an easy read

2.5 stars

I generally love dystopias, but since Hunger Games the trend really seems to have caught fire (no pun intended), resulting in some pretty half-assed additions to genre. There are worse ones out there than Delirium, but this by no means stood out to me as an example of what good YA dystopian lit is capable of.

The premise sounds like the brainstorming of a middle-school creative writing class: in a futuristic setting, love is outlawed, and everyone becomes a brainwashed zombie on their 18th birthday. Naturally, our protagonist Lena is one of the few to understand True Love, and must fend off the Forces of Evil in order to be with her Soul Mate, Alex.

To be honest, I never really felt like this premise made a lot of sense to start with. The book appears to equate "love" and "passion", which aren't really the same things at all. Outlawing passion would make sense in a twisted sort of way, since it can cover a lot of ground: jealousy, hatred, fury, etc. However, the book constantly refers to "love" as amor deliria nervosa, to the point where the word love itself is outlawed. I felt like, had the author tried harder, we might have actually sympathized on some level with those who wanted the procedure. Who doesn't want to stop feeling things like guilt, shame, and misery? Yet the book never goes this far, because we are EXPECTED to agree with Lena. To experience any kind of conflict outside of the one preventing Lena from being with Alex is apparently beside the point.

Of course, as more or less functional human beings, we understand that to experience the good parts in life, we also have to experience the bad. Strangely enough, though, Delirium never actually reaches this message, and just sort of loses steam. The ending of the novel is pretty much summed up in one (pretty patronizing) line:

I'd rather die my way than live yours.

Which was a bit of a letdown, really. I mean, teenagers have been saying this for ages, and it's not like anybody is against being in love with someone who loves you back. They're against all of the negatives that comes with it: the jealousy, the anger, and eventually, the heartbreak and devastation. Again, this is never broached in Delirium. Alex and Lena are the rebels in love, prepared to show the ignorant world the light. Or something.

I've heard the sequel is quite a bit better, which is mostly why I picked up this book. I DID like Ms. Oliver's writing style, which is one of the main reasons this book scraped by at 2.5 stars for me. Here's crossing my fingers that Pandemonium can tread some deeper waters.

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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Reynje This is a great review, Becky :) I think we have quite similar feelings about this one.

Hayley good points. Oliver really missed a lot of intriguing content in not exploring why "love" was outlawed in the first place. maybe she thought she'd save that for Pandemonium, but I don't think that was a smart move.

Experiment BL626 Seems like this book took on more than it could chewed. Thanks for the review!

message 4: by Ty (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ty I disagree. While the first half of the boring didn't hold me tight, the ending rocked me to the core.

Becky That's the fun thing about websites like GR, Tyana. We get a chance to talk about books with people who have different opinions from ours. :)

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