by Lauren Oliver
Feb 1st, 2011
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 government 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.
Delirium is a fairly formulaic young adult dystopia; there’s nothing too unique about it when it comes to the plot. But what sets it apart from all the rest is the absolutely beautiful writing and fully developed, likable cast of characters.
The prose was gorgeous. The way it’s written, I could almost taste the words as I read them, if that makes sense. Lauren Oliver wove the narrative in a way that made me feel like I was really there with Lena, experiencing everything with her. I could see what Lena saw. Feel what she felt.
I liked the worldbuilding. Sure, the concept of a future United States that views love–or “amor delira nervosa“–as a disease that must be surgically removed from people is pretty far fetched. But my initial disbelief went away fairly quickly and I was able to fully enjoy and immerse myself in this world. I loved the excerpts of books–manuals, poems, etc–that were inserted at the beginning of each chapter. It really gave some added realism to the world and made me believe that maybe it could really happen.
I loved the protagonist, Lena. She started out as a normal girl, happy to follow orders and even looking forward to the “procedure.” But she starts to question things after she meets Alex. It was nice to see her change from a sort of timid girl to a very strong person, able to make her own decisions. But she didn’t just change overnight into some badass super-strong person, though. She realistically developed into a person, still with flaws and doubts, but overall a person who thinks for herself.
And the person who started this transformation in Lena is Alex. I liked Alex from the moment we met him. I loved the way the author described his hair color, “like the color of leaves in autumn.” And this particular quote, taken from the very end of the book, describes Alex in a way that made me sigh:
“His hair is a crown of leaves, of thorns, of flames. His eyes are blazing with light, more light than all the lights in every city in the whole world, more light than we could ever invent if we had ten thousand billion years.”
Lena and Alex fit together so well and I loved seeing them get to know each other, and for Lena to experience that forbidden thing, that disease known as amor deliria nervosa. That disease of love. They were so sweet and tragic. And I felt their relationship developed quite nicely; not too fast. It was believable, I think.
And then there was the ending. Sigh. I won’t say anything more about it, but if you liked the book even a little bit, you’ll be dying to read the second book in the series, Pandemonium. I know I am.