Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Book: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Source: NetGalley ARC

Synopsis: (from GoodreadsBefore 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.


First impressions: The premise of this book is what grabbed me right away. A world where love is feared and abhorred? Let's see where this takes us! Lena is authentic and vibrant, but I felt her world was missing something. 

Lasting impressions: The writing is what I will remember most about this book. Oliver is truly talented and some passages were so achingly beautiful that I re-read them several times. Without losing Lena's voice, she seamlessly integrates moving observations on the world around her and what she is feeling. In a story where no feelings are good feelings, these passages truly amplify what Lena is going through.

Negative impressions: My only complaint is that I didn't quite buy into the world Oliver created. I didn't believe that parents could raise children without love or that people could experience emotions for 18 years and then willingly accept the robotic after effects of the treatment. I'm sure other readers will have different experiences, but for me, I just wasn't able to accept these facts as possible (or perhaps I didn't want to?).

Overall impressions: I thought this was an extremely well-written book with an interesting concept and fabulous characters. I was particularly fond of Lena's relationship with her best friend, Hana, as I thought Oliver did a fantastic job representing two friends who are on the brink of growing apart forever or solidifying a lifelong relationship. She deftly handled the subtleties of how two teen girls interact in an environment of trepidation and rebellion. 

Oliver also does a marvelous job of progressing Lena's relationship with Alex that seemed appropriate to their circumstances. While the ending has somewhat of a cliffhanger as to where this relationship goes in the future (book two of the trilogy will be released next year), it resolved enough of the action to satisfy me and provided an adequate ending to this chapter in their lives. 

Despite my reservations with accepting a world without love, the quality of Lauren Oliver's writing cannot be commended enough. This is a great story of first love and friendship.


Rating: 4/5 stars

7 comments:

Small Review said...

I agree with you about the (lack of) believability of the world. I can see it, sort of, but I really can't believe it. This could have been improved, but we're never really given any why or how the world did what it did. I thought I was the only one!

I enjoyed this book, but I didn't love it nearly as much as other reviewers seem to love it.

Logan E. Turner said...

Yeah, I kept going back and forth between 3 and 4 stars. Ultimately, the quality of the writing carried it up to 4 for me. I'm glad I'm not the lone wolf on this one!

Rachel Searles said...

I agree as well about the world-building here. I had trouble getting through the first half of the book because it was very slow to me, but I liked the buildup of the relationship with Alex, and I loved the ending.

Missie said...

Yes, Logan, I have to agree. I have yet to read Delirium, but I don't think I would be able to believe the loveless setting. I think this sounds like one where the concept over ruled the realism.

I'm still very interested in read this one. I'm a sucker for prose that has you re-reading passages. Eager to see if I would be doing the same as you.

Thanks for the fantastic review.

Stephanie said...

I, too, found Lena's relationship with Hana to be a highlight of the book. With this and Before I Fall, Oliver definitely has a very good grasp on friendships.

Great review!

Aylee said...

Hmm, interesting point about the believability of the world. I think for me, I was just so totally in love with Oliver's writing that she really just sold the concept and the plot to me. If her writing wasn't as good as it was, then yeah, I think I would have been more disbelieving than I was.

Logan E. Turner said...

@Rachel - I thought the beginning was a little slow as well. There were several places in the book where I thought I could quit reading and be just fine not finishing it. So not a good sign! But I'm glad I stuck with it.

@Missie - I definitely think you should still read it. Even if the concept doesn't quite work as imagined, it's a good book that I think you'll like.

@Stephanie - It seems lots of people agree with us. Did you like Before I Fall? I haven't decided if I want to read it or not.

@Aylee - Absolutely. If the writing was any worse I don't think I could have finished this book. Lauren Oliver is so talented, though, and I kept reading mostly just to keep reading her prose.

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