Book Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium (Special Edition) by Lauren Oliver

Pub. Date: August 22, 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Format: ebook, 480pp
Age Range: Young Adult

ISBN-13: 9780062114037
Source: Barnes & Noble

Teaser from BN.com: 

Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe.
I wonder whether the procedure will hurt.
I want to get it over with.
It’s hard to be patient.
It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet.
Still, I worry.
They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness.
The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.

My Review: 

Wow! I bought a digital copy of Delirium when it was offered at the bargain price of $2.99. And I’m glad I did! 

Delerium is YA Dystopian Fiction at its best. Who doesn’t love Dystopia? There is nothing more appealing in fiction than an exploration, on some level, of what it means to be human. Dystopia puts our humanity — our freedom of choice, freedom of thought, and in this case, our freedom to love, on the line. So we cling to our seats and hold tightly to the page as we hope to see the characters beat what feels like insurmountable odds. All in the name of human freedom. What’s not to love, right?

As I mentioned, this time it’s love that’s on the line. In Oliver’s world, love is seen as a disease, and once adulthood is reached, each citizen goes through a procedure to be cured. Lives — schooling, careers, marriages — are arranged and selected for you through testing and an interview. And finally, the most important part of the process, the cure, takes place. All to ensure individual and collective happiness. Ah, but does it?

Lauren Oliver creates a compelling world. I especially liked her use of epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter to give more detail and context to this world. There is nothing to specifically date the world of Delerium. I think we are to consider this our possible future or even an alternate present. Small details were mentioned that add to the worldbuilding: the internet has become the intranet, the U.S. borders were closed, and cell phone static is the result of government surveillance.
Oliver succeeds in her characters. From the beginning, you care about Lena.  Her relationship with Hana is one of the best portrayals of best friends in my recent memory. Though much of this story, when not plot driven, is internal-dialogue driven, there were little tidbits thrown in to give Lena and Hana a history. Another secondary character that I like is Grace, who, although I can’t tell you why, is perhaps the ultimate rebel.
Finally, the romantic element of the book feels natural and right. Oliver captures what it is like to fall in love; how love both disturbs and repairs our personal world. Above all, she illustrates why love is worth the accompanying risks and the potential pain.
Don’t let the four-star rating fool you. I absolutely loved this book! But I give only whole star ratings, and it’s because the writing and the prose are, as a whole, so strong and emotionally compelling that a couple of editing mistakes, one in continuity, and the other an impactful oversight in word use, keep this book from getting top marks.
Still, after finishing Delirium, I immediately pre-ordered the next installment, Pandemonium (February 28, 2012). I also pre-ordered Hana, a short story that releases the same day. I can’t wait to read more about what happens to Lena (and Hana)!
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