Release Date: February 1, 2011
Read it in: 5 days
The Hook: Love, the deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.
Before I go any further, let me first say that Lauren Oliver is such an incredible writer. Her words are just like poetry and there were points in this book where I literally just broke into tears, because what she has to write is so beautiful and poignant. As I read Delirium, I became totally wrapped up within the story, with the characters—the entire world that Oliver creates is absolutely spectacular. I was able to feel every bit as much as Lena (the protagonist) does, as she reacts to the dystopian society she seems so inextricably a part of.
Lena is a teenager that you can absolutely relate to, despite the fact that at the beginning she is completely brainwashed. Little by little, Lena begins to question things that she has always believed and held to be true-- and this is what makes her such a real character. It’s not like she walks along all happy and oblivious, then meets Alex the guy of her dreams and says, “OK! I guess I’ll believe whatever you tell me, heehee, because I love you and can’t live without you.” No, she actually has a brain of her own and she does go through a painstaking process of shifting back and forth between what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s real and what’s a lie-- it takes her some time to figure it out but that internal struggle gives her character both depth and complexity.
Alex is such a lovable character- from the very first time you meet him, you can’t help but fall in love with him too, I mean he just makes you smile. He’s fun, full of life, mischievous, and represents everything good that stands up against the dark, twisted world Lena lives in. Also, he truly loves her-- that is undeniable by the last pages of the story.
That being said, I did have a few issues with this book. First of all, I just didn’t understand the concept of a world where love is considered to be a disease. Where did this come from? I’ve heard the point made before that dystopian worlds need to have an origin— there needs to be some logical string of events that connects the world we live in to the dystopian world the characters live in. But I couldn’t draw any parallels between our current society and Lena’s that would put love, of all things, in trouble of being destroyed.
Other things that puzzled me: What exactly is the point of making everyone immune to love? Yes, I understand it turns them into dull, listless zombies to be controlled by the government, but love just doesn’t seem to be the most logical or stable thing to target if you are trying to maintain complete control over people. Also, I couldn’t figure out-- are the raiders/regulators/government people in Lena’s world all “cured” as well? How could they be and still stay in control? There were just a lot of open-ended questions I still have that were never answered.
I wasn’t crazy about the ending to Delirium—I don’t want to give anything away, but after 400+ pages I just ended up feeling kind of depressed, let-down, and slightly jipped. (Note: this is not because the ending is boring, it's definitely not!) Maybe I should’ve seen it coming or maybe I’m too idealistic, but I was so convinced the story would end one way and then it ended completely different. I wonder if anyone else who has read this book had the same reaction?
On the upside, Oliver’s story is definitely unpredictable with many plot twists. Most importantly, it was original. **Sigh...** I just wished things had turned out differently! But this is going to be a trilogy, right? So maybe I will be pleasantly surprised with the books to come-- I will definitely be reading them.