Sunday, April 14, 2013

Delirium (Delirium #1) by Lauren Oliver

  •    Title: Delirium
  •    Classification: Young Adult Fiction
  •    Genre: Dystopia
  •    Format: Paperback; 480 pages
  •    Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (February 7, 2012)
  •    ISBN-10: 0061726834
  •    ISBN-13: 978-0061726835
   Author's Website:

'The most dangerous sicknesses are those that make us believe we are well.'
--Proverb 42, The Book of Shhh


Four little letters which mean so much and can be so powerful. People have written songs about it. Wars have been fought for it. People have killed for it. But what if an entire society decided to reject it? What if instead of seeing it as a rare and beautiful thing to grasp hold of, they saw it as something to be gotten rid of--a disease to be cured? What if they felt love was the root of all evil? 

Welcome to Lena's world. Where at the age of 18 all members of her society are required to have an operation to rid them of the possibility of ever falling in love. The thing Lena fears most is catching amor deliria nervosa. Unfortunately for her, her days of a disease free existence are numbered. Lena Haloway is about to fall undeniably head first in love. May God help her.

“Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That's what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side.”

"The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t."


If you think about the topic of this book too much you may find yourself chuckling or smirking. It is a hard premise/pill to swallow. Love as a disease? Just try to imagine yourself trying to describe this book to someone who hasn't read it. It isn't easy. I wonder how Ms. Oliver managed to sell a publisher on the idea? The story truly sounds far fetched. Ms. Oliver, however, dives head first into the society with her main character Magdalena "Lena" Haloway. She expertly skirts exactly how an entire society came to hate love, but gives us hints and clues as to how, at least through the eyes of the current government, it happened by seeding the story with bits and pieces of information at the heading of each chapter. In my humble opinion, only a master at the craft of writing could weave a tale such as this and make readers buy into it. After reading the series, I have no doubt that is exactly what Ms. Oliver is.

Lena is 17 years old and just months away from being cured. Her mother was never cured despite several operations to rid her of the awful disease. Lena has many fond memories of her mother, and it's obvious her death dramatically impacted her. I believe a part of her fears that, like mother like daughter, she too will be unable to be cured. I also think one of the main reasons Lena wants to be cured so badly is to rid herself of the pain and hurt she's felt all these years from the loss of her mother. The procedure is said to numb one's sense of feelings, such as love, and cleanse and clear the mind.

Hana, is Lena's best friend. In some ways the two are polar opposites. Hana is rich, while Lena comes from a poor family. Hana is popular, while Lena is popular only by her association with Hana. Hana is outgoing and gutsy while Lena is more likely to stay on the straight and narrow path. Hana is beautiful and, while I very much doubt this and guess it is due to being a teen and playing second fiddle to a best friend who everyone seems to view as perfect could make a gal feel this way, Lena believes she is not. Despite their differences the two get along famously and are almost as close as sisters. 

The society that Lena and Hana live in is touted as being perfect, but as the story unfolds, we start to see some cracks in it's supposedly flawless veneer and a darker side to this loveless society starts to emerge. The kind of cracks that a person might not notice if they aren't looking too closely. A side that is hidden away from the general populace. In the midst of it all Lena meets Alex. An older boy who has been cured and is, therefore, supposed to be safe. Alex, however, has a secret of his own and before Lena knows it, she finds herself in the midst of the one things she so desperately wished to avoid--amor deliria nervosa.

As I always say, the brilliance of a book is often hidden within the little details. An example would be the book of Shhh which stands for The Safety, Health, and Happiness Handbook and is a prime example of political propaganda. It's such a fun name for a handbook. Throughout the book below the chapter numbers, we are given bits and pieces of the liturgy of the handbook. Parts of it consist of reworked stories from the bible, altered to fit the society's ideals. Other sections deal with the symptoms and stages of the disease and how to protect yourself from the condition. Yet other sections consists of things to inspire and contain prayers. It's basically a handbook and bible all wrapped up in one book. 

Some, but not all, of my favorite quotes:

- 'I know that life isn't life if you just float through it. I know that the whole point- the only point- is to find the things that matter and hold onto them and fight for them and refuse to let them go.'

- “Everyone is asleep. They've all been asleep for years. You seemed ... awake." Alex is whispering now. He closes his eyes, opens them again. "I'm tired of sleeping.”

- 'Sometimes I feel as though there are two me's, one coasting directly on top of the other: the superficial me, who nods when she's supposed to nod and says what she's supposed to say, and some other, deeper part, the part that worries and dreams... Most of the time they move along in sync and I hardly notice the split, but sometimes it feels as though I'm two whole different people and I could rip apart at any second.'

- 'We stand there for one more moment, looking at each other, and in that instant I feel our connection so strongly it's as though it achieves physical existence, becomes a hand all around us, cupping us together, protecting us. This is what people are always talking about when they talk about God: this feeling, of being held and understood and protected. Feeling this way seems about as close to saying a prayer as you could get'

Overall, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. Ms Oliver has a beautiful and poetic type of writing style that I just adore. Her writing paints a picture with words and wraps you within her world. I absolutely adored the book and HIGHLY recommend it. I am presently kicking myself for not reading it sooner as I've owned the book since the book first came out. What was I thinking waiting so long? lol 

Order of the series:

1 comment:

  1. Interesting concept. And it also makes me wonder how she got a publisher to take a look, sounds like it works though!


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