Saturday, October 11, 2014

Book Review – Delirium

I'm still getting chills!~ GoodReads


Delirium by Lauren Oliver focused on a futuristic Portland, Maine, where the citizens were surrounded by electric fences and injected at 18 with the cure for love, affectionately called amor deliria nervosa. The protagonist Lena, nicknamed from Magdalena, plays the role of a young 17 year-old woman who is anxiously awaiting the day she can be injected with the love cure, be paired up with a cured man, and live her life free from the pain of heartbreak, misunderstanding, and originality. The arrival of Alex, a charming young man, and the sudden mood-swings from her best friend Hana alter Lena's perception of the world.

While the majority of the novel focused on the relationship between Lena and Alex, author Oliver did not leave out the friendship shared between Hana and Lena nor the strange bond Lena shares with her young mute cousin, Grace. The three relationships shaped Lena and transformed her into the person she was meant to be, not the one the government was forming. From a reader's point of view, the plot never felt too slow to start and jumped straight into the ideas of blindly trusting the government and questioning its every move. 

The setting felt very plain, like the government wanted to change its citizens' way of thinking and feeling without altering the physical structure of the city. While most dystopian novels wipe the slate clean with the setting, the normalcy of Portland, minus the buzzing electric fence, aided in the ridiculousness that the government could actually delete "love" from humans' emotional capability. I didn't have to spend time trusting the reliability of the city's transformation because it didn't undergo one. Instead, the change in human behavior took command of the story and plot, which increased the reader's acceptance of the government's control and how we could believe that these people actually wanted to forget about love. 

As a writer, Lena's character development annoyed me for most of the middle section of the novel. The constant confusion and vacillation of her beliefs would have made sense given Lena's awakening, but in one particular scene, Lena cries against an alley wall, complaining that no one cares about her simply because she's unhappy in that moment. Seriously? Lena may have been angry, but her childlike tantrum did not warm me up to her and didn't seem believable even after finding out the greatest lie in her life. She even acknowledges her tantrum but decides she wants to keep throwing it anyway, knowing Alex "[is] right…[but she] keeps going stubbornly, unable to stop [herself]" (377). Her development could have been stronger and more defined, but perhaps her attitude will change in the sequel.

All in all, this book was heart wrenching and even too understandable in certain scenes. Each person who told Lena that forgetting about love would make her happier seemed to be saying so with partial truth, as though the heart break was too much for him or her to handle. A cure for love is far off from our radar in 2014, but if humans had the option, would they take the cure like the characters in the story or fight for the right to feel pain?

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Electric Fences

If you're interested, you can get the novel here.

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