Monday, 31 January 2011

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Series: Trilogy
Genre: Dystopian
Age Group:Young Adult
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Format: Paperback, 448 pages
ISBN-13: 9780340980927
RRP: $27.99 AUD

Cover love? Love how the girl is metaphorically "trapped" behind the letters, as if they were prison bars. The overall image is very unique and iconic.
<--Aussie & UK cover, by the way (has birds, no ornate lettering).

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...

The minute I got this, I had to start reading it. There’s been so much buzz surrounding Delirium, and I loved The Declaration and Matched, which are two similar books. To my surprise, I realised that I haven’t read Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver’s debut, yet, so I began Delirium without knowing what really lay ahead.

In my opinion, a dystopian novel is only ever as good as its futuristic society and the form of oppression it chooses to enforce. In Delirium’s Portland of the future, love is a disease individuals are cured of when they turn 18. This notion is brought to reality through it’s “scientific name”, amor deliria nervosa. (Clever! I love these extra touches.) The “cured” walk about with a film over their eyes, heartless and cold, void of emotions, because with their capability to love stripped away, they’re nothing more than robots programmed to do everything the society bids of them. Oliver has painted a stark future that gives food for thought.

Lauren Oliver is obviously well-read and clever, because each chapter shows a quote from a poem, play, or piece of classical literature that pertains to that chapter. Lauren Oliver has also written some of her own poetry, book excerpts and children’s play songs from the futuristic world of Delirium that are very clever and contain hidden messages. The writing in this book, oh my god. It’s so beautiful and descriptive, almost poetic. Lauren Oliver uses the sounds and assonance of words together perfectly, and her language is beautiful.

Here’s a non-spoiler excerpt:
“I close my eyes and listen. The feeling I had before of being surrounded by warmth swells and crests inside of me like a wave. Poetry isn’t like any writing I’ve heard before. I don’t understand all of it, just bits of images, sentences that appear half-finished, all fluttering together like brightly coloured ribbons in the wind.”

Beautiful, right? The bolded lines are so evocative – what a way to describe poetry through Lena’s eyes.

Lena is a great protagonist in this book and to me, she is an unlikely one, which is great. I could have imagined the entire story being told with Lena’s best friend, Hana, as the protagonist: beautiful, daring, wild, rich but not understood.  But I think that with a shy, quiet and obedient character, readers will really understand and marvel at the power of love to change a person. Alex, the mysterious boy that Lena meets is exactly what I expected, but I was still amazed and warmed by his goodness.

Lauren Oliver has admirably captured the powerful emotion of love in stunningly beautiful words. Her gorgeous second novel, Delirium, is a captivating dystopian with a heart-wrenching love story that I recommend to lovers of all genres.


Delirium at Hachette AU | Lauren Oliver's Website | Lauren Oliver's Blog | Delirium at Goodreads