Author: Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium #1
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Date: February 2011
There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it. Then, at last, they found the cure. Now, everything is different. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway 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 then, with only ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable...
Love—in all its forms, it’s considered a disease in Delirium’s dystopian society. When citizens come of age, they undergo an operation that cures them of it. Lena is a 15 year old girl several months away from her cure, and wouldn’t you know it, she falls in love.
I’ve read similar books I didn’t enjoy, so I was a bit late getting to this. Luckily the lovely people at Hodder sent me Requiem and I was piqued by all the hype. Although I found Delirium somewhat slow, Lauren Oliver’s beautiful prose absolutely won me over, and in the end I found it to be an exciting, beautiful read. Amor deliria nervosa, you may have just got me with this one.
Most dystopian main characters are so ready to break free from their conventional lives, that I found Lena’s tentativeness refreshing. Initially, it wasn’t her, but her best friend Hana who rebels against society. Lena is resistant, and because her mother was taken away for contracting the disease, she prefers to live her life on the straight and narrow to avoid any further humiliation to her family.
As chance would have it, she meets Alex, who appears cured. After cautiously spending some time with him, she eventually realises she may have contracted this disease she has tried so hard to avoid. He shows her that the ‘Invalids’ who live outside the walls of society are real and reveals this whole world outside of her own.
When they fell in love, Lena’s reflections and feelings unfolded so beautifully I found myself clinging to every word. She had a genuine struggle over her new feelings and what she had always believed was right. She wanted to be brave, but she was scared. I absolutely loved her for that. Her characterisation was realistic and heart-breaking.
I was, however, let down by Alex. He was lovely, but altogether almost too perfect. He lacked personality and that spark, that flaw, which makes someone attractive. To me, he was an ideal instead of a love interest. I liked how his presence affected Lena, but I wasn’t sold on their chemistry. I did however, love Hana. She was fun and fierce and I loved their friendship throughout the book.
Where the book also fell flat for me was the pace. While I could sit all day and read Oliver’s lyrical writing, I wanted—no needed—more plot. I loved Hana, Lena and Alex’s camaraderie, but it wasn’t until the last quarter of the book where events ramped up, my heart was racing and I got really caught up in the excitement. I was impressed by Oliver’s ability to write heart-pounding action scenes just as well as the beautiful flowery ones. I found myself fearful and anxious right along with Lena.
I couldn’t wait to pick up the next in the series. Delirium slowly spun a web around me and now I’m officially caught in its world.