Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Delirium's dystopian world is focused on love, or the disease they call amor deliria nervosa. Love is the root of all evil, and a cure has been found. The major problem with the cure is that it has bad effects on younger people, so it cannot be administered until close to your 18th birthday. Everything is highly regulated. Boys and girls are kept apart as much as possible to lessen the risk of infection.
Enter Lena, a quiet girl close to her 18th birthday. She is eager to receive the cure. She has seen the effects of delirium on her sister, and her mother committed suicide from the infection. Then she is at an evaluation and witnesses an incident rumored to have been done by Invalids living in the Wilds. People who chose not to have the cure. She also meets a boy, and her world is turned upside down. She attends a party with her friend Hana (great character) and hears real music for the first time. Music that can move you. She realizes how detached everyone with the cure is, even to their own children. The cure never took for her mother, so she has memories of her mother being a very loving mom but having to hide it. As a mother, I can't imagine that. That was my strongest reaction to this book. Thinking about a world where parents are not attached to their children. They care for them because they have to, not because they love them.
I mentioned Hana was a great character. My favorite line in the whole book comes from her, early on, before either of them honestly begin to question things. Right before their evaluations, she asks Lena "You know you can't be happy unless you're unhappy sometimes, right?" I love it, because it is so true. Living in a world of indifference, where you are never unhappy, doesn't mean you are happy.
Delirium is the first in a trilogy. I know, I know. Everything in YA fiction seems to be a trilogy now. I have to admit, it's becoming a bit of a pet peeve. This book is strong enough to stand on its own. Most people will disagree with me, because of the cliffhanger ending. Look at The Giver, though- huge cliffhanger ending and it stands on its own just fine. It's on many people's list of favorite books, including mine. Oliver wrote one of the best cliffhangers I've read in a long time, and it's the ending that makes me think it could be a stand-alone book. Not everything has to be tied up in a pretty little bow, especially in dystopias. Look at 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale.
All in all, though, I did enjoy Delirium. I have another dystopian novel on my reading list (Bumped) so I will have to see how they compare.