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.com)
Lauren Oliver’s Delirium was top of my highly anticipated reads of 2011 after falling in love with her debut novel, Before I Fall. While I ended up not loving Delirium quite as much, I did really like the book and the ideas behind it.
The idea of Love being recognised as an illness or disease is fascinating. Anyone who has ever been in love will recognise and relate to the symptoms described and agree that it can indeed feel like a sickness. Anyone who has ever had there heart broken will find themselves wondering for just a second, if life would be easier without such overwhelming feelings. But the cure takes the life out of people, the very things that make them human and passion for anything is irradiated, love for children and families becomes nothing more than an obligation. I know I’d rather take the pain and still experience the good than loose my ability to love. The half people, known as cureds, scare the life out of me and are truly sinister.
I liked Lena immediately. She’s distinctly average and desperate to be normal. She’s terrified of being like her Mother who succumbed the Deliria despite several attempts at a cure and can’t wait to have the procedure herself. She’s horrified by some of the feelings she has and tries desperately to quell them, hiding her appreciation of things as simple as the beauty of the sunset or being drawn to certain colours, which are frowned upon. Her best friend Hanna appears to be the one who’s going to rebel and Lena struggles to understand it. But when Lena meets Alex, he encourages her to see beyond the lies fed to her by the government and as she discovers some shocking truths, she’s forced to acknowledge that they are wrong. I loved how Lena began to slowly question her world and the inner turmoil she experienced between wanting to be normal and become ‘cured’ and knowing that actually this may not be right after all. She’s no kick ass heroine, being nervous, weak and conformist to begin with and her development throughout the book is a real joy. Even as she turns into a fighter, she can’t quite believe this is she. I love how the ordinary and small does something extraordinary and huge and found it pretty inspirational.
Lauren Oliver’s writing throughout the book is stunning. It ranges from stark and desolate to beautifully poetic. I love her way with words and her writing is always a joy to read. I did find Delirium a little slow to start with and while I was enjoying it, it wasn’t until around half way through that I became completely hooked. While I found the idea’s behind the book fascinating and could actually imagine them happening, I was left a little disappointed by the world building surrounding Lena and at times thought it wasn’t as believable as it could have been. It seemed a little too easy for rules to be flaunted and while the emotionally void ‘Cureds’ sent chills down my spine, I didn’t think the guards and Regulators who police Lena’s world were nearly menacing enough. I also struggled to believe for the first three quarters of the book that no-one had actually rebelled before, however along with Lena we find out there’s much the government wants to keep quiet about that and I think we’re going to find out more of these people in the second part of the series.
What I wasn’t prepared for though was the ending, where Lauren Oliver literally ripped my heart out. I was reading on a bus, in public and audibly gasped making the woman next to me jump. It’s a very brave step by Oliver and in the last few pages she turns around your previous expectations for the series. While very sad, it’s a little exciting, as now I have absolutely no idea where things will go and it makes sure I’ll be following Lena’s story into the next book.
Overall Delirium was a good read. The ideas are interesting and thought provoking while Lena is a character easy to relate to and care for. While I wasn’t as blown away as I hoped I’d be it leaves me with high hopes for the rest of the series. Delirium is beautifully written and while the beginning was a little slow moving the powerful and shocking ending more than makes up for it.