My Catchphrases

Friday, 18 February 2011

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Title: Delirium
Series: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Publication Date: 3 Feb 2011

Source: UK Book Tours

Synopsis: From GoodReads
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway 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 with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

I would first like to say that the idea of looking at love as a disease is ingenious and completely identifiable. Although love can sometimes be painful would a person really want to go through brain surgery in order not to be able to love. It really makes you think of how that would feel and this hypothesis is intricately woven into the narrative; providing an internal debate on the positives and negatives of love.

Written in first person narrative from Lena's perspective. Lena has lived under the shadow of having a Mother who was outcast for her unending capacity to love. Her Mother was truly wonderful but not seen as such in a society that classes love as a disease similar to the bubonic plague. Lena is afraid to feel, afraid to consider any other option until she meets Alex *swoon*. Lena's best friend, Hanna, provided a stark contrast to Lena in every way - looks/social standing/attitude - yet there is something about there co-dependent relationship that goes far beyond the surface. For me I think Lena and Hanna identified something in each other subconsciously, elements that come to the for as the story progresses.

The use of Mary Magdalene with Lena's name was particularly brilliant, the biblical link was well researched and added to the argument in favour of the cure.

I have to say that I didn't particularly like Lena, I found her self absorbed, judgemental and opportunistic. I had the same problem with Before I Fall but the protagonists path of self discovery redeemed herself in my eyes by the end of the book, I am hoping that Lena does the same in future books.

The similarities portrayed between the dystopian society and that in Matched developed the realism within my imagination. A society that controls music/books/movies, I do not think I would survive. My love of conspiracy theories was fueled by the portrayal of the divide between rich and poor. Government officials decide your place in society, who decides their place or is it a birthright like royalty. There are no restrictions placed on Government officials, they have every convenience and unlimited energy supplies whereas everyone else's is restricted. Unjust and corrupt, I was virtually climbing on my soapbox as I was reading.

The cure itself is completely horrific, akin to a lobotomy, as a reader I was left wondering who on earth would have discovered the way to remove a persons ability to love in the first place. Not only does the cure stop you from falling in love; it stops you loving at all, you cant even love your own children. Yet the ability to hate/be aggressive is left untouched. Personally I kept thinking why not remove the hate out of people rather than the love, wouldn't the world be a better place without hate and with love (stupid scientist). Aggression seems to be exaggerated without the capacity to love depicted vividly with the raids and the sadistic pleasure the actual raiders seem to take in hurting people and destroying things. I was almost sick when reading a particular action of the raiders (no spoilers). Imagine a world without compassion or sympathy; unfortunately it is all too easy to picture.

The writing style is wonderfully descriptive, encompassing beautiful use of similes. The description of feelings was astute and really got to the 'heart' of the matter. The merging of science and religion within the narrative along with the quotes used at the top of chapter headings added depth, dimension and impact to the basic storyline while providing additional insight into the characters and plot development.

I am not going to gush about this book as I know a lot of other people have, the reason behind this is that at the end of it I felt as if I had my heart ripped out then trampled on.

A haunting and emotional read, believe me it will stay with you for a long time.


  1. You are so right about the " it will stay with you for a long time". I first read DELIRIUM last Octorber, November and started a re-read just a week ago. I love this novel! Lauren's language is beautiful and I am glad that I don't have a problem liking Lena:)

    If you like to read my review of DELIRIUM:

  2. You must be posting it in on to me then, as I am next on the list on UK Book Blog tour. Can't wait to read it. Another very intelligent and breathtaking post. Not looking forward to having my heart trampled on though!

  3. Great review Emma. Actually I liked Lena, I thought that her developement from weak, nervous conformist to rebel was fantastic. I agree though about having your heart trampled on...I said very similar in my review which I also posted today!

  4. Fab review and you are so right about it staying with you.

    I did like Lena though and enjoyed seeing her develop throughout the book.


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