by Lauren Oliver
Epub Edition July 2011
Summary: Lena looks forward to receiving the government-mandated cure that prevents the delirium of love and leads to a safe, predictable, and happy life, until ninety-five days before her eighteenth birthday and her treatment, when she falls in love.
My Rating: 4.5 GREAT read!
I was enthusiastic to read this book. Lauren Oliver wrote Before I Fall, which became a New York Times best seller, and, as she said, focused on death - one day to live. Her next book, Delirium, focused on love. How exciting!
SPOILERS... I'm not giving away this book much... you gotta read it! If you don't want any hints, though, don't read this section!!
The futuristic world Oliver created in Delirium is dark and big-brother-scary. The government listens in on phone conversations randomly, imposes curfew on the uncured and patrols the streets looking in houses for any emotional activity. Lena's real name is Magdalena after Mary Madgalene in the Bible who "was saved by Joseph"... and this was a weird twist I thought worked well. The government had rewritten the Bible and other acceptable books to promote their belief that Love is a disease and the root of all emotion, which they have found a cure for. The twisted quotes from the Bible and Shakespeare add and eerie quality to the depth of the deception. Oliver really makes it hard for Lena to know which way is up. There is great history, too, from the discovery of the disease to perfecting a cure to closing off the borders of the USA.
I liked the world, I liked Lena a lot and her friend, Hana, her sister Grace, her Mom, who is a great legend. I really enjoyed all the world building.
I loved the concept of time, the countdown to Lena's cure. I loved the constant tension between anticipating the cure and struggling with growing feelings. Oliver really captured the pull between opposites, how Lena could want two things strongly at the same time, how the government could present a lie while hiding the truth. The tension is great.
My biggest struggle was over a raid. There were so many people clobbered with clubs, I expected consequences - a lot of people caught and some general public reaction, but there wasn't any... public reaction nor even horrible crime scene. Those who escape find each other, but we never hear about any of the others, like a new character who is never heard from again. Her family isn't highlighted as having a daughter who was discovered sick or dead or gone, and that felt like a dropped string to me. Because Lena had been caught up on general news, especially in connection with other students before that raid, and I would have liked to have seen some of that after the raid, too.
I would have liked to know more behind Alex's purpose of being in the city. Was it just survival? Because The Wilds seemed a thousand times better.
Finally, and this seems petty by comparison, but the scene where they swim in the ocean was backwards to me. Maybe I grew up by a completely different ocean, but no one lets their 4 yr old's swim in an ocean by themselves, like Lena remembers. The undertows are too unpredictable. Even adults swim with other people if they want to have a good time. And, in my experience, when the tide comes in, it carries everything to shore, including people. So, when the tide turned and started coming in resulting in a long, slow swim back to the beach, I was weirded out. But, I've never swam in the Atlantic near Portland, Maine, so maybe that's my problem.
I already said it, but it's worth repeating, I LOVED THE TENSION!! The government was so overbearing that challenging it was truly frightening. Oliver did not sugar-coat the danger, or the near-misses, or the injuries! It was hard to put this book down. I was correctly concerned for Lena. By the time she gets a grip with her inner tension, she is running out of time!
I really love the way Oliver took everything deeper and farther than I expected. I was not able to predict anything in this book beyond what the summary announced. I am very happy to join the eager fans waiting for Pandemonium. It's not coming out 'til March?! REALLY?!