by Lauren Oliver
Releases on 02.01.2011
Source: NetGalley for Review
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love - the deliria - blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love. (from GoodReads)
REVIEW: Ever wanted to wipe a guy from your mind because he shattered your heart so soundly?
Lena’s world, you can. However, like all small blessings, it comes with a catch, and it’s a biggie.
Lena lives in a future
where a group called the ‘Consortium’ has taken over. In true dystopian fashion, the government, not individuals, make all major life decisions for citizens, including place of post-secondary education, profession and spouse. Lauren Oliver creates a future United States with beautiful, descriptive language, and sometimes you get lost in the loveliness and the originality of the sentences, especially when she writes comparisons. That being said, I found it difficult to ‘sink into’ this novel at first. When we first meet U.S. Lena, she is about to turn 18 and full of anxiety about her future. Because of this, Lena is an extremely introspective character, and at times, I think I would have liked some more dialogue or action to break it up a bit, but then Oliver would come out with a completely amazing sentence that would make me reread it with pleasure.
Lena's world is SUPER circumscribed, and this is where Oliver’s novel really differs from other dystopian reads for me:
Lena’s world never feels safe, not even at first. Yes, she was told her world was safe, orderly and protected, but I never got that feeling. I was creeped out from the beginning by how regimented her life was: early curfews, absolutely no contact with boys who weren’t family or cured yet, and the constant reminders that if you are suspected of doing anything that smacks of civil disobedience, you will get a one-way to ticket to death or hell on earth. The government certainly has covered its tracks with the mother of all PR campaigns in Delirium; everything, from the Bible to national history to current events, has been rewritten. At times, it felt like something akin to Nazi Germany.
She didn’t count on meeting Alex, who is a marvelous example of a loving, brave, and selfless guy (he’s my new lit crush). Alex has a few secrets of his own, and they both broaden
Lena’s horizons and endanger her future at the same time. Oliver’s writing really shines at its best during the beautiful moments shared between Lena and Alex. I won’t spoil anything here, but let’s just say I said, “Ahhhhh,” and “ Awww,” several times. Outloud.
I have to admit, I had a hard time wrapping my brain around the premise. Who wants to get rid of love? Sure, it’s really inconvenient at times, but capable of being a national threat? No. And then I realized the catch. Remember the old saying, “It’s a thin line between love and hate?” It’s a thin line between a lot of different emotions: love, hate, passion, anger, etc., and all these different feelings provoke strong actions. Take away the ability to feel those emotions, and what sort of person do you have? A damn boring one who won’t cause trouble. This isn’t spelled out in Delirium, but I have seen this comment in a few reviews and wanted to add in my two-cents.
While I struggled to get into the first third, I couldn't stop reading the second half. Lena really develops in it and creates her own beautiful world within the one she has to live in. I hope we learn more about what circumstances the Consortium came to power under in book two, and gain more insight into what kind of world
Lena is truly living in. I wish I had more background context for this book as I think it would have helped me get into it a bit earlier, but I will say that once I was hooked, I stayed that way. The world in Delirium is a refreshing, new dystopia we have not yet seen before with an original premise - a truly fascist, threatening government right from the start with a paranoid population in which a forbidden love flourishes and a young woman starts to find out what she is really made of. I think once we know more about the the reasons behind the premise and understand more about the world outside of Lena's immediate frame-of-reference, we will have a wholly satisfying trilogy in our hands.
Quotes (please note that these are from an unpublished e-galley and may not reflect changes in the final print copy):
"You know you can't be happy unless you're unhappy, sometimes, right?" she whispers, and her voice is hoarse, as though she's just been crying.
He's speaking in the kind of voice that everyone uses when they are about to break you apart. Gentle - kind, even - like they can make the news sound better just by speaking in a lullaby voice. . . like you won't somehow hear the violence underneath.
It strikes me how small everything is, our whole world, everything with meaning - our stores and our raids and our jobs and our lives, even. Meanwhile, the world just goes on the same as always, night cycling into day and back into night, an endless circle; seasons shifting and reforming like a monster shaking off its skin and regrowing it again.
Love: a single world, a wispy thing, no bigger or longer than an edge. That's what it is: an edge; a razor. it draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. the rest of the world falls away on either side.