Friday, 12 February 2016

'Delirium', by Lauren Oliver

Title: Delirium (Delirium #1)
Author(s): Lauren Oliver
Release Date: 3rd February 2011
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Source: Library

They say that the cure for love will make me happy and safe forever. And I've always believed them.
Until now.
Now everything has changed.
Now, I'd rather be infected with love for the tiniest silver of a second than live a hundred years suffocated by a lie.

There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it.

Then, at last, they found the cure.

Now, everything is different. Scientist are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway 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 then, with only ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable...


Lena is just a regular girl. She goes to school, she does sports, she helps out her family at home, she has a best friend with whom she does everything else. But most of all, she is a girl anxiously counting down the days until she has her procedure done, where she will be cured of the worst disease known to man: love.

'Delirium' takes place in a dystopian world where it was long ago decided that love (amor deliria nervosa) was a dangerous disease, and a procedure was developed to cure everyone of it. The United States closed up behind electric fences, hunting down everyone who resisted the new laws, and implemented a system. At the age of eighteen, every citizen is evaluated, given a numerical score, and then presented with several choices of the opposite sex, from which they pick their future partner for life. Then the ability to love is taken from them, since it is nothing but dangerous and careless, and everyone spends the rest of their lives following someone else's decisions: who to marry, what to study, where to work, where to live, how many children they must have.

In a way, this book reminded me a lot of 'Matched', by Ally Condie, since they both address a world where the ability to make your own decisions is taken from you. It also has some touches of 'The Hunger Games' and even 'Divergent'. Inside the dystopian genre these kinds of associations are easily and frequently made, but usually there is something in every story that makes it stand on its own and pushes it away from its counterparts. Sadly, this one didn't live up to that expectation.

This is, over anything else, mostly a romance book. You go through over 2/3 of the book without anything major happening plot-wise, other than the development of the relationship between Lena and Alex. Don't get me wrong, it's really well written, but when I read a dystopian book, I expect to learn and discover everything that is different about the world it revolves around. In 'Delirium', sure, you know that someone once decided that love was a disease and it had to be eradicated, and you know how they do it, but what is missing is the why. What, someone just woke up one day and decided 'hey, let me erase one of the most powerful human emotions from mankind, and while I'm at it, I'll have french toast for breakfast'? And worse, a whole country just went along with it?

The quotes from political propaganda before each chapter were a nice touch, but just not enough. Even if that information is somewhere along the series, you can't go through a whole first book without providing some answers.

Overall it was an enjoyable read, but fell very short of what I was expecting from it. Great concept, but lacking on the world-building and development. If the last installment of the trilogy hadn't gotten such bad reviews I would probably give it another go, but as it is, I'll mourn the death of such a great idea.

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