Linna's Reviews > Delirium

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
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's review
May 30, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: for-review, disappointing, dystopian-and-apocalyptic

Lauren Oliver’s writing is recognizable and wonderful. It's fluid, descriptive style and pretty much effortless. Everything from sunsets to city streets to love itself is described in a way that is simply mesmerizing. Told in first person, the narrative lets us see and hear things from Lena’s perspective, and it’s a point of view shaped by the restrictive world she lives in; this leads to a voice that is unique and fascinating to understand–it’s a real eye opener to read a description of real, beautiful, music from a girl who has lived without it for most of her life.

I have to say that this book is mostly pretty writing on the surface without a strong plot to back it up. Luckily it's not just flowery prose; Lauren Oliver’s descriptions are breathtaking and the ending features some of the most beautiful writing, the type that rushes frantically through your brain while you’re still trying to get a grip on what’s going on.

And for once, the main character’s best friend had as much depth as Lena herself; or more, even. Hana almost seems like she would’ve been the protagonist with her vivid personality and curiosity for living life freely without undergoing the ‘cure’. She’s the perfect foil for shy, introverted Lena. She’s the one who first rebels against society, not Lena, and this stirs some more conflict between them instead of just limiting it to person vs. society. At some points I wish it was narrated from Hana’s perspective. Even after finishing the book, I don’t think I could write a proper character sketch of Lena. She falls in love. She spends a good portion of the book as docile as the rest of society before becoming reckless and passionate and willing to risk her life because of one guy she’s just met. Alex is cute and all, but he’s indistinguishable in a sea of perfect male love interests. The thing about Romeo and Juliet is that the plot shows that they were young and reckless– YA tends to only focus on the gloriously romantic side of things.

The dystopian society is lackluster. There’s no evident reason for the eradication of love. It’s a cool concept, love being a disease, but the basis for it came out of nowhere. This really hurt my ability to understand the conflict; in the The Giver, for example, it’s understandable why the world is the way it is. And justifiable, as well; a world without war or pain or hunger– but at what cost? There aren’t really any social questions that you could argue about here. In 440+ pages, I would have preferred some more history behind the setting, but most of it is spent on a drawn-out plot that somehow didn’t manage to engage me with its romance.

The writing is beautiful, and it stands out as some of the best there is in YA lit today. But the problem with the huge wave of dystopian books is that a) none of these societies portray anything that could happen in the future, not even a commentary on what society is like today (like in THG and Chaos Walking) also b) the romance is slapped together with too many 'electric tingles' and 'heated glances' that it's just not like reading about real people. I wasn't exactly tearing up for any of the characters' fates by the end.
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Quotes Linna Liked

Lauren Oliver
“My heart is drumming in my chest so hard it aches, but it's the good kind of ache, like the feeling you get on the first real day of autumn, when the air is crisp and the leaves are all flaring at the edges and the wind smells just vaguely of smoke - like the end and the beginning of something all at once.”
Lauren Oliver, Delirium

Lauren Oliver
“We stand there for a moment, looking at each other, and in that instant I feel our connection so strongly it's as though it achieves physical existence, becomes a hand all around us, cupping us together, protecting us. This is what people are always talking about when they talk about god: this feeling, of being held and understood and protected. feeling this way seems about as close to saying a prayer as you could get...”
Lauren Oliver, Delirium

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