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Monday, December 13, 2010

'Delirium' by Lauren OLIVER

Received from NetGalley

From the BLURB:

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.

Lena’s mother killed herself because of the amor deliria nervosa. Her sister went mad with deliria and Lena’s biggest fear is that she too will succumb. . . And so Lena counts down the days until her operation, when she turns 18. The operation that will cut her open and put an end to her potential suffering. One operation, a scalpel and a cut, and Lena will be safe from the illness of ‘love’.

In a future dystopia, in the town of Portland, Lena counts down the days to her eighteenth birthday and eventual operation. She will be safe from deliria and slot into society and be just like everyone else. Because in this society people are kept safe; they are given a list of acceptable movies and music. People are assigned potential husbands and wives according to calculated compatibility. Mothers raise children, but don’t ‘love’ them. Teenagers do not fraternize. Everyone is safe, everyone is well.

Lena is counting down the days. . . and then she meets Alex. Alex is a guard working at the evaluation lab, he has golden eyes and stirs something inside Lena that panics and frightens her. . . something that comes dangerously close to the symptoms of amor deliria nervosa.

‘Delirium’ is the second stand-alone novel from YA novelist extraordinaire, Lauren Oliver. I kept hearing such wonderful things about this book, and I was glad to read that it stood up to the hype.

‘Delirium’ is another book in the increasingly popular genre of YA dystopia. The entire world has become anesthetized, and all society had to do was cut themselves off from love. In this world Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a cautionary tale, and Lena was named for an infamous victim of the deliria nervosa; Mary Magdalene, who lost her mind to love.

Lena is an extraordinary protagonist. She is at the cusp of everything – about to turn eighteen and be ‘cured’ and finally put an end to her suffering. And Lena has suffered. She never knew her father, since he died of cancer when she was a baby. She grew up with her mother’s unconventional affection, and then had that ripped away from her when her mother jumped off a cliff when Lena was eight years old. Lena has since lived with her aunt and uncle and young cousins – but she has suffered social stigma at school where she was known to come from an ‘infected’ family. Lena begins her journey with whole-hearted conviction in ‘the cure’ and a deep-seated hatred of the disease that tore her family apart; amor deliria nervosa.
Everyone you trust, everyone you think you can count on, will eventually disappoint you. When left to their own devices, people lie and keep secrets and change and disappear, some behind different face or personality, some behind a dense early morning fog, beyond a cliff. That’s why the cure is so important. That’s why we need it.
Lena’s journey in ‘Delirium’ is a rocky one as she learns about the highs and lows, pitfalls and soars of love. It’s fascinating to read Lena’s fear of love, and her eventual enlightenment when she meets Alex. . .
They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. That’s bad enough. ‘The book of Shhh’ also tells stories of those who died because of love lost or never found, which is what terrifies me the most.
The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it, and when you don’t.
Lena and Alex’s romance is the perfect balance of sweet and tragic. Like the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ bogeymen of this world, Lena and Alex’s romance is so beautiful because it’s sad and forbidden, and heavy with a sense of foreboding. But even knowing that Alex and Lena will have a rough road ahead, you can’t help but fall a little bit in love with their love story. . .

Oliver’s world is so intricate and frightening. It’s a cross between ‘Equilibrium’ and ‘Disturbing Behaviour’ – full of plastic people who don’t know how much they have lost. The government perpetuates the dangerous love myth with the book of ‘Shhh’ (The Safety, Health and Happiness Handbook) and citizens are none the wiser to their loss.
Someday she will be saved, and the past and all its pain will be rendered as smoothly palatable as the food we spoon to our babies.
Someday we will all be saved.
I love the dystopian genre. It seems to be a YA category that demands the highest quality of authors and the finest of writing. Ally Condie’s ‘Matched’, Suzanne Collin’s ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy, the ‘Uglies’ trilogy by Scott Westerfeld and now Lauren Oliver. It’s a genre that seems to have cropped up out of nowhere, but is dominating the young readership. This genre owes a lot to George Orwell, but authors like Lauren Oliver have made ‘dystopia’ their own and written creative and heart-breaking tales from Orwell’s depths.

The storyline of ‘Delirium’ is fascinating and horrifying, but it’s Lauren Oliver’s writing that truly shines. Her prose is lyrical, her characters flawed and she writes a helter-skelter finale that will leave you breathless. . . Lauren Oliver is definitely a YA author to watch, and after ‘Delirium’ I think she may even be an ‘automatic-buy’ author for me.

Heartbreaking and eye-opening, ‘Delirium’ should be on everyone’s ‘must read’ list for 2011 – it is released February 1st.



  1. Great review! I found it scary that love was considered a disease and found this book more emotional than expected.

  2. I want to read this book so bad. Come on, February!
    Oh and many thanks for the review :)

  3. WOW this book sounds great! Thank you for the great review!

  4. Awesome review! I love Dystopian novels and this sounds like such a great read =D

    Im really looking forward to reading this one! =))))


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