Book review: Lauren Oliver’s “Delirium”

I’d initially meant to put up my reviews of “Delirium” and “Pandemonium” before putting up the transcript of my Lauren Oliver interview, but there was just so many things on my plate that I thought it would be easier to just transcribe interviews rather than have to compose my thoughts on these two books — or my thoughts on anything for that matter.

It’s only now that my head has caught up with my body in terms of taking a vacation that I feel ready to take a shot at “Delirium”, at the very least. I mean, not that they’re groundbreaking thoughts or anything. Basically this is just a long excuse as to why I have not been updating as often as I would like.

ANYWAY. “Delirium”. What did I think of it?

“Delirium” takes place in a dystopian version of America where love is a disease that people get cured for — all for the good of society, of course.

Lena is one such citizen who’s content following society’s rules. She’s wary of anything that might distinguish her as afflicted with amor deliria nervosa, and is counting down the days to when she finally gets cured.

Things, however, don’t exactly go as planned. Not only are her evaluations disrupted by subversive elements, but she ends up meeting the handsome and enigmatic Alex. As their friendship deepens, so do their feelings for each other, and before Lena can help herself…she’s in love.

I have to admit that I had a hard time getting into “Delirium” in its first few chapters. It’s told only from Lena’s point of view, and the first few chapters don’t exactly paint her as someone that I would particularly like to be around. She’s very timid, unadventurous, and repressed that at times I think I actively hated her.

Thankfully, Lena is far from being a static character. As you get further into the novel and as Lena’s relationship with Alex deepens, she undergoes a character arc that is interesting to read about and observe. What I loved about it was that all of it happened at a perfect pace. Oliver didn’t draw it out needlessly over the course of several chapters, but also didn’t make it happen so quickly that it becomes unbelievable.

There is also something refreshing about reading a dystopian setting that is still very much recognizable as one of our own. Other than the “cure”, Lauren Oliver’s dystopian America might as well be waiting just around the corner — especially if you consider the tenor of some of the presidential candidates in the recent Republican primaries.

And as small a mention as it is, I really appreciated the fact that the LGBT — in the form of the Unnaturals — are also mentioned in the story. As Lauren Oliver herself pointed out in my interview with her, it always seems like in YA “there is either lesbian, bisexual, homosexual literature or there isn’t.”

The book’s ending is also actually tense and nerve-wracking and had me guessing as to whether Lauren Oliver would have the guts to actually kill off a main character. Spoiler — she does.

While “Delirium” and I got off to a rocky start, it certainly improved greatly once Lauren Oliver got the ball rolling. It had me excited to read “Pandemonium”, and after reading that, I am certainly looking forward to reading “Requiem”, the final book in the trilogy.

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