Delirium by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Delirium is set in a futuristic world where love is considered a disease, and everyone over 18 is sent for a brain procedure to be cured of the ability to love. The people in society are therefore logical and cold and they go to their work and raise their children in soulless family units. Romeo and Juliet is taught in schools as a cautionary tale.
Lena is an orphan, raised by her aunt since her mother killed herself for refusing to stop loving her children. In this horrifying new world mothers don't hug their children, or play with them and Lena's memories of her mother are of them playing games or dancing in secret. Lena was told her mother killed herself after the cure didn't work, and Lena is desperate to turn 18 and be cured to save herself from future pain, and to rid herself of the stigma that has haunted her family for having a family member who was "infected". The whole world-building was fantastic, and such a scary concept. I loved the idea that both factions thought the other was in the wrong. Crazy people don't know they're crazy they think they're normal. Neither side could understand who was wrong- the rebels living outside the city refusing to be turned, or the cold citizens who have been "cured"- who think the others have a brain sickness.
Just months before her procedure Lena meets Alex, who has never been cured and has spent time living in the wilds with the rebels. Lena and Alex's relationship develops steadily and believably, and I loved seeing the development of Lena's character- from a steady girl who cannot wait to get the cure and be safe- into a defiant, strong person who will do anything to avoid living the lie. Delirium is set in a time of oppression and tyranny, where people live cold, logical lives, are forbidden to travel and have to read books or listen to music that is on the approved list, and it was great to see Lena become a stronger and braver person and start to fight against everything. Lena and Alex have great chemistry and you find yourself reading and hoping for a positive ending that just seems impossible. Their secret meetings were such a refreshing relief from the harsh society they were rebelling against- rules and raids, and all the connections in this were so positive. Lena also has her best friend and running partner Hanna, which is also a great relationship and her sweet little cousin Grace, showing us that the different types of love are what makes Lena's life so special.
What I absolutely love about the writing in this book (and in Oliver's debut novel Before I Fall) is the constant insertion of little anecdotes or memories, that really help to describe the feeling of the moment, and also fleshes out the characters giving them a whole history and making them feel more real. All the description is full of little similies and makes the writing really lyrical. This is why I think I would automatically want to read this author writes in the future regardless of what it is about.
Delirium is an emotional read that will stick with you long after you've finished. I loved this, and am eagerly anticipating the sequel.
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