Thursday, February 28, 2013

Delirium by Lauren Oliver [Review]

Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Dystopia
Publication.Date  February 1st 2011
Published By:  Harper Teen
WebsiteLauren Oliver

Delirium on Goodreads
My review copy:Bought
Where to get:

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 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.


"Most things, even the greatest movements on earth, have their beginnings in something small. An earthquake that shatters a city might begin with a tremor, a tremble, a breath. Music begins with vibration. The flood that rushed into Portland twenty years ago after nearly two months of straight rain, that hurled up beyond the labs and damaged more than a thousand houses, swept up tires and trash bags and old, smelly shoes and floated them through the streets like prizes, that left a thin film of green mold behind, a stench of rotting and decay that didn't go away for months, behan with a trickle of water, no wider than a finger, lapping up into the docks.
And God created the whole universe from an atom no bigger than a thought.
Grace's life fell apart because of a single word: sympathizer. My world exploded because of a different word: suicide.
Correction: That was the first time my world exploded.
The second time my world exploded, it was also because of a word. A word that worked its way out of my throat and danced onto and out of my lips before I could think about it, or stop it.
The question was: Will you meet me tomorrow? And the word was: Yes."
"I'd never understood how Hana could lie so often and so easily. But just like anything else, lying becomes easier the more you do it."
"Sometimes I feel like if you just watch things, just sit still and let the world exist in front of you - sometimes I swear just for a second time freezes and the world pauses in its tilt. Just for a second. And if you somehow found a way to live in that second, then you would live forever."
“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.”
“Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That's what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side.”
“And now I know why they invented words for love, why they had to: It's the only thing that can come close to describing what I feel in that moment, the baffling mixture of pain and pleasure and fear and joy, all running sharply through me at once.”
Love, the deadliest of all things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't. 
But that isn't it, exactly.
The condemner and the condemned. The executioner; the blade; the last-minute reprieve; the gasping breath and the rolling sky above you and the thank you, thank you, thank you, God.
Love: It will kill you and save you, both.

     I have very mixed feelings about this book. On one hand I absolutely loved it and could hardly stop myself from reading the entire book in one sitting, on the other hand - I was a little bit disappointed underwhelmed by some aspects of it. Delirium is definitely a very unique and memorable book. It's categorized as a dystopian novel, but it reads more like a very dramatic and beautiful love story. It's slow moving, but evenly paced and with a great build-up to a heart-pounding cliff-hanger ending. It's also meaningful, reflective, emotionally affecting (though - I must admit - not as much as I expected it to be), and intensely readable. 

     Lauren Oliver created a world that is both intriguing and very creepy. Cold, emotionless, cruel, violent and built almost entirely on lies. World where love is considered a deadly disease and people need to be "cured" of it. And if they can't or refuse to be "cured", they're either forced to have the procedure (which is something like lobotomy), or they end up imprisoned in the Crypts or dead. The "cureds", as well as the children waiting to be "cured", live in a city surrounded by walls and electric fence, guarded day and night by the police. Outside the fence are the Wilds, where the Invalids are rumored to live like animals. The government controls everything, terrorizing people with violent raids and brainwashing them with carefully prepared propaganda. It's one crazy town I would never want to live in...

     Lena is almost 18. When we meet her, it's exactly 95 days from when she's scheduled to have her procedure. And she is looking forward to that day. Growing up she witnessed what amor deliria nervosa does to people. She has seen it first hand. First her mother killed herself, then her sister had to be forced to have the procedure because she wasn't careful enough and got infected. Lena knows exactly how dangerous deliria is, and she can't wait to finally be safe from it; cured. But things are not what they seem to be and Lena is about to discover the truth about the world she lives in and the people she trusts. She's about to meet someone who will shatter all her illusions to pieces and flip her world inside out. 

   Let me start by saying how much I enjoyed Oliver's writing style. Her prose was beautiful, almost poetic, but not overwhelmingly so. I enjoyed her reflective and descriptive passages, intelligent observations and the slow pace of the story. She did a remarkably great job depicting Lena's thoughts and emotions, bringing her character to life, and while I personally didn't connect with Lena as much as I hoped I would, I most certainly thought her to be believable and convincing. There was something about her though, that prevented me from being fully involved with her story. I didn't necessarily dislike her, I just didn't feel any strong connection with her as a lead heroine. I found myself connecting more with Alex and Hana for sure. Lena seemed too withdrawn and uncertain most of the time, too insistent on hiding inside her protective shell, living in denial. She was too eager to believe in all the lies that people around her have been spoon-feeding her. I know why she was like that, I understand what made her like that, but I just can't help feeling distant from her. Thankfully, towards the end of Delirium she morphs into someone entirely different, someone I felt comfortable rooting for and caring about, and I'm really looking forward to seeing more of her character growth in the next books. 

     The world building in Delirium, while very thorough and creative, has left me asking many questions. I wasn't entirely sold on the idea behind this book, I just couldn't understand why love of all things has been identified as the most dangerous thing for the human kind. But that is the premise here and so we roll with it. For me, the only reasonable explanation is that the government used deliria as an excuse to create the oppressive system and gain full control over the society (which makes it so much more scary!). I'm very excited to learn more about this world of Delirium, explore the Wilds and see what other lies will be uncovered in the next instalments. 

     There are some truly heart-breaking / terrifying moments in this book (the scene with the neighbors' dog, things Lena sees in the Crypts, everything that happens in the last chapter) and I was definitely emotionally affected by all that, but at the same time there are other things in this book that were meant to be scary, too, and I did not perceive them to be so. I'm talking about the government itself. Perhaps it's because there is no evil villain in this book, no single person/group of people to blame and fear. The enemy is the entire system, and though we have raiders and regulators, and we know there is someone out there pulling all the strings, it's just too vague an idea for me. On top of that, I couldn't help but question the government's intelligence. Am I the only one who thought all the government people seemed very stupid unintelligent? They were sloppy, their actions often seemed primitive and random and all I could really picture in my head was a mindless mob blindly following orders that came from God knows where. A bunch of simple-minded people with guns, beating people with sticks, torturing them in the Crypts and making sure the rest of the society is scared into obedience. Yes, that alone is pretty terrifying, but not as much as having someone clever and ruthless (someone like President Coriolanus Snow from the Hunger Games) after you. 

     Some plot developments were a tad predictable (Lena falling in love with a boy not long before her procedure, etc), others caught me totally off guard (pretty much everything that happened in the last 6-7 chapters). The cliffhanger ending left me utterly speechless. I knew this would happen, and yet the way Oliver wrote those final scenes had me sweating and frantically turning pages. I don't know how many more cliff-hangers like that my poor heart can take. It was pounding like crazy! 

     Overall, I really loved this book. Maybe not as much as I thought I would based on all the hype surrounding it, but it still made a huge impression on me. Lauren Oliver is undoubtedly a very talented writer and I see myself pre-ordering every single one of her upcoming books in the future. I'm glad I finally decided to read Delirium, as it's one of those books you simply can't miss.

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