Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Great concept and writing, but Delirium did not move me like Lauren Oliver's first book, Before I Fall

Synopsis: Lena lives in a world where Love - also known as "amor deliria nervosa" - is a disease, the most deadly disease, for you suffer when you have it and when you don't.  In the world that Lauren Oliver has created, this disease has a cure.  Eighteen year olds are cured with a medical procedure, at which time they are given a suitable match.  Occasionally, the cure doesn't take, or a person rebels, and those people, and their sympathizers, are never heard from again. 

Just from reading the concept for this book, one can get a pretty good idea of what is about to happen to Lena and her world. 

"You can't truly be happy unless you're unhappy sometimes."

There were parts of Delirium I wanted to read out loud, highlight with a big yellow marker and quote it back and forth.  Lauren Oliver has a way with words, and the writing was great.

Each chapter began with a quote from one of the guidebooks that the world of Delirium uses to educate their people.  Oliver's clever interpretations (or misinterpretations) of the major texts which many of us live by today - like the Bible - were ingenious.  I also found it extremely interesting that Romeo and Juliet had been turned into a "cautionary tale." 

I wish I could judge this whole story on the last few chapters, because that's when Oliver's pace really picked up steam.  Up until then, the novel was a bit flat and predictable.  There were even parts that, while it is a dystopian society and we have to suspend our disbelief, were not realistic at all. I wasn't quite sure how every word and every step had to be so in-line with regulations, yet there was a rave on the other side of town on a pretty consistent basis.  I also had a hard time with the relationship between Lena and Hana, her best friend.  I didn't completely trust Hana, and that distrust didn't feel like it was an intentional part of the story. 
The last few chapters, and especially the end, were pitch-perfect, though.  The pace was fast, the dialogue felt natural, and the final few pages kept me on the edge of my seat.  The ending - OH THE ENDING - was strong enough to make me want to read the next book in this new trilogy.

I went crazy for Lauren Oliver's debut, Before I Fall, but this one didn't have the same heartbeat for me from start to finish.  I do love the way this author's mind works, and I enjoy her writing, so even though I didn't love this book, I'm still looking forward to the next book.

Pandemonium (Delirium Book #2) by Lauren Oliver  is expected February 2012 from Harper Teen.

Book Extras:
Lauren Oliver's website
Lauren's Blog
Read Chapter 1
HarperTeen Delirium page

About the Book:
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061726826
ISBN-13: 978-0061726828

About the Author:
Lauren Oliver was previously an editorial assistant at a publishing company in New York. A graduate of the University of Chicago and the MFA Program at New York University, she is now a full-time writer. She divides her time between Brooklyn, New York, and anywhere her friends will let her crash on their sofas. She enjoys reading, writing, cooking, running, dancing, and yes, long walks on the beach (or, more practically, along New York City streets). Please visit her on the web at

Disclosure:  A copy of this book was provided by the publisher

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Delirium was on the Spring 2011 IndieBound Kids Next list.


bermudaonion said...

It sounds like Oliver is a fantastic author, even though you had a few issues with this book. I really need to read Before I Fall.

Zibilee said...

I have heard others say that this one was good, but also that it was not as perfect a reading experience as Before I Fall as well, so I think you are in good company here. I do want to read both of these books eventually though, and I thank you for your great review!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

This is the book I was reading on the plane... so far so good but I am about 150 pages in....

I loved Before I Fall! :)

Meg @ A Bookish Affair said...

I really liked this book but now I'm interested to see whether I would like Before I Fall better.

Anonymous said...

This book was amazing! it made me cry! i bleieve it is better than Before I Fall.

Italia said...

Delirium is a dystopian romance novel in which love is considered a disease, also known as amor deliria nervosa. So everyone is scheduled for the cure at the age of eighteen, but Lena tries to defy this system, falling in love at seventeen years old. The cure is supposed to create order, stability, and happiness. But the actual cure or the procedure isn't explained in depth in the book. It was just glazed over, so it left me wanting more.

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