Thoughts on: Delirium, by Lauren Oliver

Peruse bookshelves at any large bookstore and you’ll most likely see Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver, centre-stage and hyped to the hilt. I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but I remember it creating quite the sensation a year back when early-bird bloggers were receiving review copies. Delirium is Lauren Oliver’s new creation – the first of a trilogy – and if my review of the book is anything to go by, it’s sure to create an equal amount of hysteria.

What if there was a cure for Love?

Delirium is Young Adult Dystopian by genre, romantic by nature. It centralises around the idea that in the not-too-distant future, Love is considered an illness. Romeo and Juliet is taught only as a cautionary tale to students so that they understand the consequences of giving in to Love. Rest assured, however, because at 18 years old, you can have the surgery that will defeat the illness of Love forever.  And afterwards, you can be guaranteed a painless, Love-free life.

Lena’s almost 18 and looking forward to her own surgery appointment. She’s waiting to leave the life behind that has the stigma of her mother attached to it – a woman who had the surgery three times and still exhibited signs of retaining the disease. Lena only wants to do what’s right and good for herself…and then she meets Alex, and begins to question everything she knows and wants.

The whole time I was reading this book the song “Catch My Disease” by Ben Lee was running through my head:

“So please/

Baby please/

Open your heart/

Catch my disease.”

The idea of a future environment with the socially-acceptable retardation of human emotion is nothing new, but I applaud Lauren Oliver for writing something that will appeal to a generation who may not have been exposed to the classics of the genre (like Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World). Each chapter is prefaced with a quote from the social “bible”, or another historical tidbit about the world Lena lives in, which is both interesting to ponder and validates the message behind the story. The book’s a fairly hefty read at 441 pages (aren’t they all, these days?) but the prose is poetic and flows smoothly – it shouldn’t take you too long to race to the end, which is both a bittersweet finale for something and the promise of more to come for something else.

Delirium prefers to skip in-depth characterisation to focus on the overarching philosophies of freedom, sacrifice, redemption. And while I liked Delirium quite a lot, I didn’t love it – perhaps because I’m kind of over the teen doomed love affair… or perhaps because when I was 18 I had the surgery, and now I’m just a passionless sack of potatoes.

I was impressed by Delirium either way though, and I can highly recommend it for teens especially: the prose is quality, and that’s just for starters. Readers will likely find this an intoxicating read that they are free to go delirious over, unlike poor Lena. The freedom to love – imagine that!


Disclosure: Received for review.

Year of Publication: 2011.

Number of Pages: 441.

Book Challenges: None.

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Aimee Burton

Aimee Burton is a lawyer-in-training who still dreams of befriending unicorns. This blog will be her escape from reality, and hopefully it'll inspire her to finish writing that fantasy trilogy she's always promising her friends is "almost halfway" done.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on: Delirium, by Lauren Oliver”

  1. Sounds like an enjoyable read, and one of those ideas that makes me think, “Why didn’t I come up with that?”


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