Sunday, January 1, 2012

On Love: A Review of Delirium by Lauren Oliver

I picked up Delirium for my Kindle when it happened to be on sale for $2.99. This is another one of those YA dystopian novels that asks a big "what if" question. In this case, what if love was considered a mental illness, and what if there were such a thing as a cure?

Lena lives in an alternate version of American society in which love is regarded as a dangerous illness. At the age of 18, everyone undergoes a procedure to be "cured", and they come out of the procedure with dampened emotions and increased complacency. Occasionally, the procedure goes wrong. In the case of Lena's mother, the cure didn't work. After undergoing the procedure three times with no success, Lena's mother commits suicide. As a result, Lena can't wait to undergo her own procedure and say goodbye to the emotions that made her mom so crazy. That is until Lena meets Alex, a boy from the world beyond society--the Wilds. Alex opens Lena's eyes to a different worldview, and suddenly she realizes that love not be such a bad thing.

Positive Comments:

I found Lena easy to relate to. She's the average, everyday girl who starts out a coward and develops courage gradually. These types of characters are typical in YA--blank slates that every teen can connect to. Fortunately, though, Lena has enough of a painful back story to keep her from being boring. She's not a brilliant character, but she gets the reader into the story, so she worked for me.

The story itself is about love--falling in love by accident, staying in love by choice, fighting for love when all seems hopeless, and finally the pain of the threat of losing love. Alex is the focus of Lena's love, and like Lena, he's a pretty blank slate. Alex is less important as a character than he is as a symbol. He symbolizes Lena's awakening; he helps her to embrace emotion, and eventually makes her want to break away. I like that this novel touched on the pain, unbalance, and frustration that comes with falling in love. I like that it admits that there's a darker side to feelings, even as it argues that they are necessary.

Critical Comments:

The emotions that Lena experiences are melodramatic. This is necessary for the plot to work, but it also had me rolling my eyes a time or too. I had a few flashback's to Bella in New Moon jumping off a freaking cliff over "love". Thank God this book never gets that bad, but it had me worried a time or too.

While I'm on that train of thought, I also have to say that this book seemed to be following a checklist of what infatuated teenagers do, according to YA novels: Read sappy poetry? CHECK! Lament the sorrowful beauty that is Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet? CHECK! Dance spontaneously and awkwardly? CHECK! Lay around in a garden or meadow, talking for hours? CHECK CHECK! Seriously, YA authors: I have been a teenager in love. That's not what they do. Or at least, that's not what all of them do. I don't even like poetry. And Romeo and Juliet is not very romantic. Come up with some new material, please.

This book comes across like a prologue to a much larger and more epic story. It sets up a lot of really interesting things--The Wilds, Invalids, regulators, resistors, the procedure itself--that it doesn't actually explore. As a result, this is a book with a slow pace and not much action. I get the feeling that the action was saved for the sequels. 

So, my final verdict on this book is that it's worth reading if you're a fan of YA romance. If you're looking for an exciting dystopian with lots of action, look elsewhere. I do plan to keep up with this series as future books come out, so we'll see if it improves. 3.5 stars


  1. Great review! I haven't had the chance to read this one yet, but I have been wanting to very badly. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Vintage Bookworm--Thanks, I hope you enjoy it!

  3. I agree with so many of your comments. I never thought of Alex as a symbol, but that makes a lot of sense, cuz he's not really that interesting. I think I'll keep reading the series as well. Hopefully it picks up a little. I think she's a great writer though.

    If you're interested, here's my review.

    Ning @ Reading by Kindle Fire

  4. Thanks Ning. I have a feeling it will pick up in Pandemonium.


Thoughtful comments are appreciated! I always respond to them, and I usually return the favor! Happy reading!

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