Saturday, July 30, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Published in 2011. 441 pages.

I love young adult dystopian fiction, and this one - by the author of another book I loved, Before I Fall - is terrific!

Lena looks forward to receiving the government-mandated cure that prevents the delirium of love and leads to a safe, predictable, and happy life, until ninety-five days before her eighteenth birthday and her treatment, when she falls in love. [Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data]

Delirium is definitely not your "same old" - and, like all good science fiction, it provides some thoughtful commentary on current society and the human condition. Consider, for example, the implications of these passages:
A little shock pulses through me. In all the seventeen years and eleven months of my life I have never, not once, thought of it that way. I've been so used to thinking of what the borders are keeping out that I haven't considered that they're also penning us in. [pages 228-229]
The branches above us form a canopy that reminds me of the vaulted ceiling of St. Paul's Cathedral, where I used to sit in Sunday school to hear lectures about atoms and probabilities and God's order. [page 284]
They say the cure is about happiness, but I understand now that is isn't, and it never was. It's about fear: fear of pain, fear of hurt, fear, fear, fear - a blind animal existence, bumping between walls, shuffling between ever-narrowing hallways, terrified and dull and stupid. ... I know that life isn't life if you just float through it. I know that the whole point - the only point - is to find the things that matter, and hold on to them, and fight for them, and refuse to let them go. [page 383]

I also found Oliver's writing to be beautiful as well as entertaining. Here are two passages I particularly liked:
Sometimes I feel like if you just watch things, just sit still and let the world exist in front of you - sometimes I swear that just for a second time freezes and the world pauses in its tilt. Just for a second. And if you somehow found a way to live in that second, then you would live forever. [page 153]
I feel like I'm playing some giant video game, or trying to solve a really complicated math equation. One girl is trying to avoid forty raiding parties of between fifteen to twenty people each, spread out across a radius of seven miles. If she has to make it 2.7 miles through the center, what is the probability she will wake up tomorrow morning in a jail cell? Please feel free to round pi to 3.14. [page 210]

Tricia of Library Queue called Delirium "fast-paced, thought-provoking, [with] a great romantic angle." "Alex looks just like Zac Efron to me!" she said. (Tricia's full review is here.)

Joy of Thoughts of Joy found the dialogue to be "very YA-like," which she didn't like. She also didn't like the statements or quotes at the beginning of each chapter - which is actually something I really liked, giving me insight into the world in which Lena lives. Joy concluded, "While I didn't find it to be stellar in writing or plot, I did enjoy reading it, and that's a good thing." (Her full review is here.)

Penelope of The Reading Fever gushed about Delirium - despite having three gripes - in her detailed review. In conclusion, she said, "Read this if ... you are a romantic at heart, you don't believe love is a disease, and you want to really feel what you read." (Her full review is here.)

A discussion guide can be downloaded here. The sequel Pandemonium has an expected publication date of March 2012. Delirium has been optioned for a film by Fox 2000.

I highly recommend this one! (By the way, up next in the YA dystopian genre for me is Elana Johnson's Possession.)



  1. One more great book to add to my every growing book stack. I wish I had more reading time. How do you do it?

  2. Maybe Alex really will be Zac Efron! He he! :)

  3. I love her writing too! Looking forward to hearing what you think of Possession...

  4. Great review! I'm glad you liked it. I love the passages you added. She writes so beautifully.

    Thanks for linking to my review! :)

  5. Glad you enjoyed this one. I'll be looking for the sequel in March, too. Thanks for the link love. :)

  6. Holly: There are lots of things I don't do (and probably should) so I can read!

    Tricia: Maybe so!

    Melissa: I'm hoping to get to Possession soon!

    Penelope: She is a beautiful writer!

    Joy: It's nice to have something to look forward to!