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.
Thank heavens the second of this trilogy is already out! The massive and thrilling cliff-hanger at the end is too much to bear!
This YA dystopian novel is the first book of the Delirium trilogy. It’s important to note that this is primarily a love story that takes place within a dystopian world, not a dystopian world with a love story (like Hunger Games).
While love stories can become cheesy, this one most definitely did not. The desperation between Lena and Alex is real, solid, and threatening within their world. The US is the only nation with “the cure” and it is separated from the rest of the world, keeping the “cureds” within and the “infected” outside. Even the cities are locked within electric fences, preventing people from escaping into the Wilds, the area where all the Invalids (uncured or infected) inhabit.
I found two things that really pulled me into and through the story: Lena’s transformation and enlightenment, as well as Oliver’s language. Lena is a perfectly rational, calm girl, awaiting the day of her surgery to become cured of the disease amor deliria nervosa. The rational behind the dangers of love make some sense: the pain, the drastic behaviors, sweating palms and strange appetites. These are all things people in love experience, but the world twists it in a negative way, causing everyone to fear love and fear those in love. By the end of the novel, she feels “alive” and “awakened,” wanting desperately to escape to the Wilds with Alex so she’ll never have to undergo the procedure. Her transformation is an adventure in its own right.
The language – my goodness! It’s so beautiful. Although this novel is for young adult readers, Oliver does not underestimate her audience’s reading abilities. The language reads like adult novels, full of elegant descriptions and fantastic imagery and sensory detail. You become Lena, you experience everything she experiences, your heart pounds in fear, anxiety, and thrill when hers does.
I like to also offer my two cents on social commentary. Oliver says she was inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s quote that great books are about love or death. While this is incredibly interesting and I love her take on it, I think there’s more that can be said. Suzanne Collins was inspired by wars and the media to write Hunger Games – the political commentary on that is immense. I think Delirium could also be a commentary on what modern society deems as acceptable love and human rights. Today, only a man and woman can marry. But there are also taboos within this freedom: younger men marrying older women, young girls marrying men the age of their grandparents, people marrying “too young” or marrying because of pregnancy. But this also does not leave room for men to marry men, women to marry women. Our society scoffs at teenagers who say they are in love — “You don’t know what real love is, you’re only 14.” We should take a step back and ask ourselves…whatis love? And why do we have such social pressures and regulations on what we believe is love?
Food for thought.
Rating: ★★★★★ of 5
Goodreads: 4.6 of 5