Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Okay, just finished reading Delirium by Lauren Oliver.  This story is told by Lena.  As the story unfolds we discover the world in which she lives.  A world where love is thought to be a disease, the route of all evil almost.   A dystopian society where love is not forbidden but wiped out by the cut of a scalpel.  Lena has been brought up knowing when she reaches the age of 18 she will undergo surgery, the result of which will ensure she never feels emotion, and, she is looking forward to the procedure.  She’s lived in fear of becoming ‘infected’ with love, particularly as her mother was so susceptible to the disease and remained infected in spite of numerous attempts to cure her.

Well, this book has definitely provoked a lot of thinking on my part not to mention mixed feelings.

I think Lauren Oliver is a wonderful author.  Last year I read her debut novel Before I Fall which was a fantastic book and I was therefore eagerly anticipating this book.  LO’s writing is truly lovely and delightful to read.  The writing flows so easily and although this may seem effortless I have such enormous respect for somebody who can write something that is so enjoyable to spend time reading.  I think LO could write instructions on how to assemble a wardrobe and make it interesting.  That being said I will point out that this story is definitely a slow burner, there isn’t particularly any action or drama but more the slow dawning of light that the world in which Lena lives is not all it’s supposed to be.  I don’t mind the lack of action, in fact it is a nice change of pace but anybody expecting people who rise up to fight against the authority’s and take matters into their own hands may be disappointed.  (Although you can’t rule out a rebellion in the future novels of course.)

Basically, I am struggling to understand a few things.  For example, how the world in which Lena lived ever actually came about.  What was the trigger that set in motion this complete change in everybody’s way of life – what convinced them to undertake such a radical change.  Don’t get me wrong, I can understand that somebody desperately hurt by a failed romance might think they never want to go through the same feelings again, even though eventually these feelings will fade or change.  I can see that by quelling people’s emotions this also happens to eliminate rage, despair, envy, etc,.  I just can’t picture the trigger. In developing this procedure you eliminate all feelings.  You have no feelings for your family, you have no inclination to hug your own children and you certainly wouldn’t tell them you love them.  I cannot, for the love of all things normal, ever imagine a world in which people would undergo a procedure that leaves them with no emotions for anyone – especially when for the first 18 years of their lives they do experience these emotions (even if in controlled circumstances).  And yet we have a world where people know that after the procedure they will ignore their former best friends.  It’s sort of based on a premise that love is a disease and lists lots of different symptoms such as lack of appetite, poor concentration, etc, etc,.  But that is only one type of love and people are capable of loving such a wide variety of people.  You love your parents, your children, your best friend, even your pet!  Also, we do have quite a number of rather ‘mean’ people in the story and I wonder why cruelty seems to remain as a trait in certain people after the procedure?

Another area that I’m struggling a little with is the age 18 barrier for the procedure.  Put simply, I cannot believe that here we have teenagers, going through rampant hormone developments and yet managing to reach the age of 18 and just walking to hospital to undergo a procedure that they know will affect them so dramatically – and that’s just if the procedure is a success.  I also struggle to believe that so many of them reach the age of 18 without more incidences of infection.  Obviously the teenagers are segregated in school, they are supervised continually and kept fairly busy, not to mention a strict curfew is imposed. But, come on, everybody has had a crush at some point, even if it was just somebody you saw on the bus each day or in the shop each weekend.  I can’t believe that all these teenagers (given a few exceptions) don’t end up falling in love or having secret liaisons. Teenagers can be quite creative – just look how easy it was for Hana to find out about secret ‘raves’ and to take part.

A more minor point is that personally I would have welcomed more information on the society itself.  Some of the areas just didn’t quite gel.  We have a society where cars have become virtually extinct, presumably oil is difficult to come by, what about trucks, lorries, etc, how do the people manage to have the goods and food that they have, do they all walk everywhere?  There is no detail about everyday functionality.  In one respect they have computers and mobiles but then in other respects they seem to live a much more basic existence than that which we know.  The community appears to be really small and enclosed and yet they don’t seem to struggle for everyday products – I suppose that’s all a bit banal really and I suppose you just have to go with the flow.  To be honest I can do without that information and read the story as it is using my own imagination, it’s just that when you’re reading about a society that is so different from the one in which you live you can’t help hankerking after the finer details.

Now, after all that, I will say that I really enjoyed reading this book and it took me no time at all to complete because it was so well written.  I absolutely without doubt will pick up the next two novels as I am really keen to know the outcome to the main characters, not to mention some of my questions might be resolved later on.  Also, I love a book that makes me think and this book definitely does that!

Rating -A

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4 Responses to “Delirium by Lauren Oliver”

  1. mshannahw

    It’s good to read another review by someone who didn’t find this book flawless – actually, you’ve made me see it as even more flawed than I did already, hehe! I did love Before I Fall but this really disappointed me…
    (My review: http://whathannahread.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/delirium-by-lauren-oliver/).

    • lynnsbooks

      I think the author is really good and I enjoy her writing but I didn’t buy into this notion. Sometimes I feel that people are so desperately trying to come up with a new idea that they think you’ll find anything believable. The Hunger Games was based on a good concept so I enjoyed it. With this I just felt like I was being sold something silly as though we’ll just read anything if someone says it’s dystopia. I haven’t sought out the next in the series and won’t do but I will read more by this author.
      Lynn 😀

      • mshannahw

        It’s a bit of a shame if she just did this because dystopia is a trendy topic just now, as she is such a good writer… hopefully she’ll do another Before I Fall type book once this series is done! I probably will read the other books in this series if I find them in the library as I guess the issues we both had with it could possibly be resolved in later books….

      • lynnsbooks

        Hopefully she didn’t do it for that reason and thought it was a good plot – we just can’t all agree all the time I suppose plus I suspect that the publishers sometimes push their authors down certain routes. We all know and saw what happened on the back of other popular books at the time such as Twilight (swamped by vampires) and 50 Shades of Grey (which has resulted in the entire market being swamped by cheap trashy sex novels). I hope you like the next ones. I’ll definitely read your reviews – just to see if I’m missing out!
        Lynn 😀

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