Friday, October 18, 2013

Delirium, by Lauren Oliver

Fantastic book.  Great first line:  "It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure."  Love (amor deliria nervosa) is the root of all things evil.  After the cure, love (and any strong desire) is gone.  People are safe.  But of course the government is totally repressive, locking up all resisters and sympathizers and not being subtle about it.  I think that aspect could be a little more restrained, with a less cardboard-tyrannical government. But it's still great. 

As for the writing, I'm not sure what this fad is with the present tense.  I generally find it annoying.  Lauren Oliver does a really good job with it here, so I don't mind it so much, but I think it might have been even better in past.  Oliver also rather overuses the word "winged," all figuratively.  Otherwise, the writing was really good:  powerful and smooth and absorbing. 

GREAT opening.  Great voice of the heroine who looks forward to the cure, who buys into all the lies about love.  Until she starts to see the truth.

The book is heavy on the romance—maybe not everyone's cup of tea—but though I'm not a huge romance reader, I loved it.  I felt everything right along with Lena, and that's not something that happens with every book.  Their love is passionate:  heart and soul and body, and a little on the obsessive side, but to me it wasn't so much in the creepy obsessive way, but more in the way of someone who's been repressed by the system finally finding truth and freedom and letting go.  Alex is a little too perfect to be real, but so is Mr. Knightly in Emma, and Jane Austen has certainly passed the test of time.  

Delirium has great tension, delirious love, good politics, a scary possible future, and intriguing ethical issues.  The ending is heart-thumping and sad, yet satisfying.  It could stand alone, but I totally want to read the next one.  Oliver weaves great themes and refrains and symbols through the story from beginning to end.  The quotes at the beginnings of the chapters are powerful and creepy, not the sort of thing I wanted to skip over, as I usually do with that particular device.

There may be some plot and world-building improbabilities, but I was so caught up in the story that I didn't care.  Great job, Lauren Oliver.    



  1. "fissures"... I'll be fine if i never hear that word again now after listening to this series on audiobooks. other than some small annoyances like that, and the the total predictability of Alex still being alive, I liked the series well enough.

  2. Isn't that funny how different things bug different people? I can't even remember fissures. :)

    I guessed about Alex too, but it was kinda interesting watching Lena in her new life, all while thinking...but what if Alex comes back? You don't KNOW he's dead...