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Sunday, 20 March 2011

Review: Delirium

Author: Lauren Oliver

Release date: 3rd Feb 2011 UK hardback
Genre: Dystopia
Target audience: 12+ / Adult Crossover
UK Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Summary from Amazon:

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. Scientists 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...


It is not very often that a book leaves me speechless but Delirium did just that. My emotions were raw upon finishing the book and I am in awe of Oliver’s power over the written word. Her writing is simply divine.

Delirium is a dystopian novel which far outclasses other novels of the same genre. The future that Oliver imagines is one where love is seen as a disease to be cured. When people reach their eighteenth birthday, they have an operation to remove the part of the brain that is open to the amor deliria nervosa infection. After the operation, people’s emotions are limited, stunted, numbed. But they live free of the fear and terrible consequences of contracting the disease – the symptoms of which are many and deadly.

The saddest thing for me reading this book is that I could understand why the main character Lena wants the cure to the disease. Losing someone you love is the most unbearable pain and so I completely empathised with her urgency to have the treatment. The other tremendously sad thing is that not only does the treatment prevent the delirious love that can blossom for a partner, but it also eliminates the precious love a mother has for a child. I found it so heartbreaking that children weren’t comforted by their parents when they hurt themselves, not hugged and wrapped up in that unconditional devotion that is so much a part of a happy childhood.

At the beginning of the novel Lena is entrenched in the society’s propaganda. She has been preparing for her evaluation for weeks. She knows all the right answers to the assessors’ questions. She can quote the Book of Shhh off by heart. But of course, a story that is about love being a disease is always going to explore the power of love to break through barriers. Whether those barriers are the iron bars of a prison, the emotional scars of a neglected childhood or the structured brainwashing of a person’s mind, we need to believe that love can tear them down.

Despite the very emotive nature of this book, there were bright moments of humour and glorious golden touches of all kinds of happiness that love can bring into a life. But the clock ticks as Lena’s cure date gets closer and closer. Just as she is wishing that the day will finally come and she can fit in with everyone else, she experiences the first awakening of love.

I don’t want to say anymore because it really is a story that needs to be discovered word by word by the reader. Whereby reading you can let the sounds and the rhythm of the prose dance around on your tongue. It is poetic, powerful and moving. Delirium is not to be missed!

Thanks to Hodder for sending me the book to review.


Library Mice said...

I did buy it in the end, but have not read it yet, so I have just scanned through your review but I am looking forward to read it now

kirsty at the overflowing library said...

i can't wait to see where this series goes - fab review

Christina / Book Addict said...

I agree! This was a fantastic read; I love Oliver's writing style, too. Delirium was very unique, especially in comparison to a lot of the other dystopian novels out there. Great review, Becky!

Blueicegal ♥ said...

Good to know that you really enjoyed it. I thought it was petty fab too :)

Cliona said...

I literally do NEED to read this! I'm glad I've finally got an age group on it now. Thanks!

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

This review was such a delight to read! Your love and excitement for this book shine through and I think I must move Delirium forward on my wishlist. I'm all excited myself now!

Caroline said...

I have read different things on this book and I just can't make up my mind whether I will like it or not - will definitely have to read it :)
Great review, you are the first review to mention the loss of love from a parent to a child. That would indeed be quite traumatic!

Beth Kemp said...

Hmm, this sounds really interesting. I like the physical way you described the writing. Sounds like one to savour!

Aik said...

Delirium sounds special...Love is a disease that needs to be cured? I'd like to read it too!

Fiona said...

Oh dear. Another to add to the list. Thank you for the review.

Crystal said...

I'm so glad you loved this book. I just bought it this weekend and I can't wait to dive in. Thanks for sharing!

Kat said...

I also loved this book. Lauren Oliver's writing is so poetic and potent. Awesome review. :)

I Want To Read That said...

I loved this book and there is definitely something about Lauren Oliver's writing that I adore. I read this in one sitting! Great review:)

brizmus said...

a dystopian novel that far outclasses others of the genre? okay, you've convinced me - I've got to read this book! It really does sound amazing!

Anyhow, thanks for your concern after the Japan thing. I am alive and well, and I'm going to try to do something to help Japan in the blog. So sorry I haven't been by in a while - I have missed the bookette!