Friday, February 11, 2011

Review - Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Summary (from Goodreads): 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’s demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holway 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

I had mixed feelings about this book before I even started reading it. The good: It's by Lauren Oliver, the author of "Before I Fall." I love the depth she brings to her characters. The bad: It's another dystopia book. Normally, I love a good dystopia story, but after the last one I read I was wary of the entire genre (Ally Condie’s “Matched” just didn’t work for me).

The premise: Love has been identified as a disease, and now the cure is mandatory. The cure isn’t safe for under-eighteens, so society is not completely safe from "amor deliria nervosa". There are patrols and raids, looking for signs of resistance and uncured kids who might be infected. You better watch what you say, even to your best friend, because you don’t know if you’re being watched. You don't want to be thought of as a "sympathizer". Sympathizers are executed.

Seeing the world from Lena's perspective, I can understand why she feels comfort in the idea of the cure. With the cure, all the awkwardness and emotional rollercoasters of being a teenager are instantly wiped away, leaving behind a calmer, matured version of yourself, safe from the dangers of deliria, which can kill you and you won't even care.

But I felt like I was missing something in why the country had that violent switch-over to an oppressive 1984-esque government with a too-harsh penal system. Sure, they found deliria to be the cause of many diseases, but I just had trouble believing that the government would then force everyone to be cured, when really I would think only the most heart-broken/grief-stricken people would find the idea of curing love appealing. Maybe it will be explained more in the sequels.

In a lot of ways, the life of a teenager (pre-cure) is pretty familiar: School bullies and best friends, curfews, summer jobs, and even first loves. Yes, Lena catches deliria. She’s falling in love for the first time and, no, she doesn't even care if it'll kill her.

It's worth reading for the characters; I do love Lauren Oliver's writing style. If you can ignore the nagging question “but why would they want to cure love?” then it’s a good read. I liked the duel perspective we got with Lena’s best friend, Hana, who is the opposite of Lena in a lot of ways, and is the first to question the cure. It’s Hana who whispers to her, “You know you can’t be happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes, right?” and starts Lena down a path that will lead her to question her entire worldview.

Lit Snit Verdict: B-

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