Thursday, April 2, 2015

Review: Delirium - Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium Trilogy #1
Genre: YA, dystopian
Published on August 2, 2011
Published by HarperTeen
Pages: 441
Read From: 2.15.15 - 3.4.15

Ninety-five days, and then I'll be safe. 
I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. 
I want to get it over with. 
It's hard to be patient. 
It's hard not to be afraid while I'm still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn't touched me yet. 
Still, I worry. 
They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. 
The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't.


Initial Thoughts: I had heard so many mixed things about Delirium. It was good, it was bad; it was boring, it was stupid and flat. It took me forever to pick this book up myself because of the premise. It sounded like it was perfectly set up for an annoying romance. But after meeting Lauren Oliver in person, I knew I had to give her books a chance. And I am really, really glad that I did.

Characters: Lena was a surprising protagonist for me, because she's normally the type I don't really like. She starts out perfectly happy with her life. She's content to do as she's told, to take the cure when she's of age, to accept the job and the person they choose for her to marry. She even heavily resists the idea of the government having lied all this time when her friends suggest it. And even when she cannot deny the evidence of her own eyes, she still wonders if it isn't better to just get on with her life and ignore it all. But Lena is smart, and she is compassionate, and it doesn't take her long to realize that she cannot unsee the truth. Her struggle was realistic and I could appreciate it. I liked that our protagonist did not start out hating and doubting the government. She believed everything they told her. And I liked that once she knew she couldn't ignore what was in front of her, no matter how much she wanted to, she put her whole heart into fighting it. I also really liked her friend Hana - who, some could argue, should have been the logical choice of protagonist. Hana doesn't believe the government at all; she rebels and questions them from the start. But I loved that her fighting spirit is part of what got Lena to see the truth. And then there's Alex - the love interest. While he's deemed dangerous by the government, he himself isn't the classic "dangerous" love interest. Alex is a good person; kind, patient, and a believer in justice. I couldn't help but like him.

The Romance: There is no love triangle. I repeat: there is no love triangle! Even when Lena's government-approved match, Brian, there is no hint of a love triangle. Brian is pretty unlikable, though he gradually went from unlikable to just boring. I hope this persists in the next two books, because I really like the way the romance is!

Plot: After the world is torn apart with war and disease and disaster, the United States closes its borders and the individual cities become city-states. Love in all of its forms - romantic, familial, interests, compassion - has been declared a dangerous disease: amor deliria nervosa. At the age of eighteen, everyone is required to get a treatment that eradicates it for good. Anyone who resists will be forced to cooperate - or will be executed. The only option is to agree or escape into the Wilds with the other Diseased. Like most girls, Lena has been looking forward to the day of her cure. It marks her passage in adulthood, into a future, into belonging. And with the taint of her mother's suicide - after she caught the disease - Lena wants nothing more than to belong; to prove that she is not her mother's daughter. But then Lena meets Alex. And everything she knew - about the disease, about her society itself - totally changes. For such a simple storyline, this book felt all levels of complex. It explored lots of interesting ideas and issues and concepts. It's totally character driven, and it is an exploration of Lena's society. Some might call it boring, but I found it extremely compelling, and I was dying to see how it would end.

Believability: This is by far the most realistic dystopian I've ever encountered in YA fiction. There are secret police, regular raids - which often always results in citizens being beaten and/or arrested. Neighbors will report neighbors, dissenters are dealt with very harshly, and everyone lives in genuine fear of being caught. What made this feel so realistic - other than the secret police - was the fact that the author showed the consequences; she didn't just talk about it.

Writing Style: First person, present tense. Like Victoria Schwab, I forgot that it was written in present tense. Lauren Oliver's style is simple, beautiful, poetic, and rhythmic. I loved it.

Other Nigglies: Quite honestly, none.

Conclusion: While I went into Delirium with an open mind, I didn't really expect it to be anything super special. But I was immediately hooked. It really is the best dystopian I've ever read.

Others in This Trilogy:

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