Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium #1
Published by HarperTeen (8.2.2011)
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover, 480 pages
Source: I own it
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They say that the cure for Love will make me happy and safe forever.
And I've always believed them.
Now everything has changed.
Now, I'd rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie.
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.
Phase one: preoccupation; difficulty focusing; dry mouth; perspiration, sweaty palms; fits of dizziness and disorientation; reduced mental awareness; racing thoughts; impaired reasoning skills
Phase two: periods of euphoria; hysterical laughter and heightened energy; periods of despair; lethargy; changes in appetite; rapid weight loss or weight gain; fixation; loss of other interests; compromised reasoning skills; distortion of reality; disruption of sleep patterns; insomnia or constant fatigue; obsessive thoughts and actions; paranoia; insecurity
Phase three (critical): difficulty breathing; pain in the chest, throat, or stomach; difficulty swallowing; refusal to eat; complete breakdown of rational faculties; erratic behavior; violent thoughts and fantasies; hallucinations and delusions
Phase four (fatal): emotional or physical paralysis (partial or total); death
I must confess, when I first started reading this book, the thought of a cure from the pain of love sounded enticing. I’m going through a breakup right now (phase three), so it was the perfect time for me to be reading it. Not having to feel like this, like dog poo on the bottom of someone’s shoe? Sounded great to me. After the cure there’s no dwelling on the past and no sadness for love lost. But as I kept reading, I realized how horrible it would be. It doesn’t just go for boy/girl love, but for your family and friends as well. That I couldn’t handle. No comforting someone who’s crying, no laughing too much, no singing, no dancing. Just total indifference. I wouldn’t want that.
In the beginning, Lena does. The society really drills it into your brain that love is terrifying. Case in point, the “cautionary” tale of Romeo and Juliet. The deadliest of deadly things. She looks forward to her procedure and counts down the days until she can be ‘safe.’ Until Alex comes along and turns her world upside down, makes her question everything.
I liked Lena and she was easy to relate to. She considers herself ordinary and plain and tries her best to fit in. At one point she says, “No guy in his right mind would ever choose me when there are people like Hana in the world: It would be like settling for a stale cookie when what you really want is a big bowl of ice cream and cherries and chocolate sprinkles included.” I really made a connection with her there, because in my mind I was like, Heeyyy, that’s how I feel about myself. I know exactly what it’s like to feel insignificant and second-rate. I liked Hana too, though, because she was rebellious – she plays music she’s not supposed to and goes to parties that are forbidden and questions things. She doesn’t just roll over and accept the choices that are made for her.
I had mixed feelings about amor deliria nervosa (love). I do think it’s a disease in a way, how it infects you and impairs you – just like the phases above. But that was all the worst parts, not the good parts – the parts that you can only know if you’ve experienced it for yourself. Lena is terrified of the bad parts before she experiences it, but when she feels it for herself she welcomes it, and if it really is killing her, then suddenly that’s okay with her. That’s part of love, being so happy and delirious you could die right then and there and it would be perfectly fine.
I enjoyed seeing the transition in Lena as she falls for Alex. She realizes that the cure isn’t about happiness, but fear. ‘Fear of being hurt and fear of pain,’ which is part of living, part of being human. I liked the development of their relationship. And I was definitely digging the forbidden love aspect; all the sneaking around, stealing time and stealing kisses. Oliver did the romance well for sure!
The only real complaint I have about this book is the way it ended. Yes, I know, it’s because it’s a trilogy. But still. Cliffhangers always piss me off when I don’t have immediate access to the next book, and this one was a doozy. I was so mad I wanted to chuck the frogging book at the wall. I can’t wait for Pandemonium!
It’s so strange how life works: You want something and you wait and wait and feel like it’s taking forever to come. Then it happens and it’s over and all you want to do is curl back up in that moment before things changed.
If you hear the past speaking to you, feel it tugging at your back and running its fingers up your spine, the best thing to do – the only thing – is to run.
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 on to them, and fight for them, and refuse to let them go.
Writing Style: 5/5
I love Oliver’s style. She’s so amazing with words and can really get the deep thinking started.
Most of them felt pretty real. The only one I couldn’t get a feel for was Alex.
While I like that it’s shiny (I like shiny things), I preferred the original cover much more.
Overall rating: 4/5 starfish