by Lauren Oliver
Pub:Feb 1st 2011 by HarperTeen
Review Copy: Hardcover (won in contest)
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.
Lena Holoway hasn't had an easy life. Both her parents are dead. Her mother, who was never properly cured of love, mourned the loss of her father and went mad. Lena's shame over her mother's behaviour when she was little haunts her and guides her decision to be a model citizen. She looks forward to the day she is cured. Lena is terrified she’ll become like her mother. She does her best to avoid the risks of love and wants to be cured as soon as she turns eighteen.
One of the best aspects of Delirium is that it's told from the inside. Lena is a good girl who isn't looking for trouble. In fact, Lena is actively avoiding trouble. Lena doesn't want love and it's really interesting to learn why she thinks it's so terrible. We see how on one level Lena senses that there is something wrong with people who have been cured. She is clearly uncomfortable with love, both being in love but also being without it. Lena’s mother loved her and that has impacted her in so many ways. While she was embarrassed by her mother and shamed by her death, Lena also had the positive aspects of her mother’s love. She can remember what real love feels like and she seems to miss it even as she fears it.
Lauren Oliver does a great job in setting up Lena's hubris. Because she has never fallen in love, Lena can't imagine why anyone would want it. She learns, painfully, that while love may be the most terrible sickness a person can catch, it's also the most addictive. Once you have it you can't live without it. Lauren Oliver begins chapters with fake medical details, poems or public health pamphlet information about the dangers of love that are fantastic because they are true, but also make love sound like a horrible thing to catch.
"We must be constantly on guard against the disease;
the health of our nation, our people, our families,
and our minds depends on constant vigilance."
-"Basic Health Measures," The Safety, Health and Happiness Handbook, 12th edition.
Lena grows a lot throughout this book. Once she meets Alex, there really is no turning back and watching the choices she makes and who she becomes is really interesting.
And Alex, what can I say about Alex? The love affair between Lena and Alex is so perfectly created in the world they live in. Their romance is so sweet and so believable I couldn’t get enough of it. Alex is the perfect complement to Lena. He challenges her to reach for what she wants but he never pushes or bullies her into anything. He brought out the best of Lena. This is a book about forbidden love, so you need a really fantastic love affair to make the story work and Lena and Alex’s love was perfect. I read this book a couple weeks ago, but I still smile thinking about the interactions between the two of them.
As time ticks down to Lena’s procedure, the tension kicks up to crazy. You know Lena and Alex are in trouble. While reading the ending of Delirium my heart was pounding. The procedure is (as far as we know) irreversible (and why would you reverse it once it’s done?) and I was terrified Lena or Alex would be caught and cured. By the time I got to the end I was holding my breath and the ending was a shocker that left me stunned.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Delirium was really easy to fall in love with.
Also, Book 2 of the Delirium series Pandemonium releases Tomorrow - FEB. 28th!!!