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Thoughts on “Delirium” by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver is the first book in a new trilogy. I received an electronic advance copy through NetGalley and read it on my Sony Reader.

About the Book:

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (cover)In Lena’s sheltered, contained world, love is a disease: amor deliria nervosa, to be precise. Fortunately, there’s a cure, which everyone is required to receive when they turn eighteen. For Lena, that’s only a few months away, and she can’t wait. Sure, people lose a little of their old selves in the process, and true, sometimes the procedure causes long-term damage, but those side effects and risks are worth it to be guaranteed immunity, and with it stability, safety, and happiness. As school wraps up, Lena is eagerly anticipating the coming events: the final examination that will decide her future, her pairing with the boy she’ll marry, and finally, her cure.

But as the date of her procedure looms, Lena begins to experience things she’s been taught all her life were bad. As good and bad swap places and Lena’s world gets flipped upside down, Lena must decide where she will stand.

My Thoughts:

I’ll admit, Delirium started a little slowly. There’s a lot of waiting for something to happen, watching Lena go about her daily life, learning the rules that bind her and everyone else in Portland, where she lives. I was interested in the social structure, beliefs, and rules of this other United States, and Oliver certainly created a fascinating world, but I wasn’t especially hooked on the story. I guessed a couple of plot points easily–always a bit disappointing.

Then, about half way through, the story took off. Where the first half took me a week of occasional reading to get through, I polished off the second half over the course of about 24 hours. I didn’t know what would happen next. Oliver has a way of writing Lena’s emotions so that you experience them yourself. By the final pages of the novel, I couldn’t tear my eyes away, my heart in my throat, desperate to know what would happen. The last time I had that feeling was when I read Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy. (I’m not saying this series is the next Hunger Games–that remains to be seen–only that the riveted feeling produced by each was similar!)

Each chapter began with a quote from some document from Lena’s world: a nursery rhyme, The Book of Shh, a medical study, a guide for people receiving the cure, a website of banned words and ideas. These, especially, were clever, I thought, and very useful for building a world around Lena’s story. They gave Lena a context, set her within a larger society, so that I could better understand her beliefs and reactions. They provided glimpses of the larger world, often rare with a first person narrative.

SPOILER ALERT!

Some have said the romance aspect felt too much like the rest of the YA novels out there at present, that Lena was too needy, too attached to Alex. But I was not bothered, perhaps because I haven’t read these other novels. I’m not a fan of wussy, sappy girl characters, and I didn’t feel Lena fit this bill at all. To me she came across as terrified because she’s suddenly challenging everything she was ever taught, trying to figure out what’s true and what’s false. Many of the decisions she makes are bold and push her far outside her comfort zone. And, really, Alex seems to need Lena as much as Lena needs him; it’s just that we get Lena’s perspective, not Alex’s. They’re two people caught in the teeth of a powerful machine, with only one another for support. Is Lena the strongest girl character ever? Of course not. But over the course of Delirium, I felt she found some strength and beliefs of her own.

I would definitely say that Delirium is one of the most gripping young adult novels I’ve read in a long time. I liked the premise and thought it was well executed. Will I be reading the rest of the trilogy? Absolutely!

Those are my thoughts. Check out Delirium by Lauren Oliver on Goodreads or LibraryThing, or read other bloggers’ reviews!

Your Turn!

If you’ve read Delirium, what did you think? If you haven’t, do you think you will?

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  • http://wormhole.carnelianvalley.com Charlie

    I’m impatiently waiting for it’s release date, really looking forward to reading it. I’ll make a note of the slow start in advance, as you’ve mentioned it, because sometimes knowing beforehand helps.

    • Erin

      Yes, stick with it! I might not have, if it wasn’t for all the hype. The second half really takes off.

  • http://zenleaf.amandagignac.com Amanda

    I literally just signed up for netgalley this morning because of this book. I really want to read it! I figure it won’t hurt to grab an ARC every once in awhile from them…

    • Erin

      Nice! NetGalley is actually pretty good. I’ve found some interesting stuff on there. I hope you enjoy Delirium!

  • http://www.ragingbibliomania.net/ zibilee

    I have been very curious about this book, and your reaction to it has swayed me over to the excited camp! I have heard that Oliver is an excellent author and from what you say, this book will have me glued to my seat, so sign me up! I am adding this one to my wish list right away. Thanks for the very potent review!

    • Erin

      I definitely think it’s worth a read. If you like it, there are more books coming; if you don’t, it won’t have taken you too long to read :-) I’m interested now to read Oliver’s earlier book. If it’s as riveting as the second half of Delirium was, I know I’m in for a treat.

  • http://perduedansleslivres.blogspot.com virginie

    Lauren Oliver is an author I’d like to read. I already noticed several positive reviews of “Before I fall” and “Delirium” seems definitively attractive !
    I’m going to have a look at NetGalley !

    • Erin

      Having read Delirium, I’m definitely interested in Before I Fall, which I’ve seen some good reviews of, too. NetGalley is great! I highly recommend giving it a shot. There are some good things to be found on there.

  • http://thestorygirlbookreviews.blogspot.com LL

    I’m reading this book right now. I am right at the halfway point (I’m reading it on my Kindle and it says 50%) and I think it is just about to speed up. I didn’t read your spoiler paragraph, so I don’t know what you thought of everything, but I am excited to get to the exciting part.

    • Erin

      Yes, keep going! I think if you’re that far into the book, the spoiler may not be such a big deal. Still, better safe than sorry. I hope you love the rest of the book!

  • http://www.lifewithbooks.com Jenners

    I skipped the spoilers because I suspect I will read this at one point. Now the question is whether to wait until all 3 are out or read them one at a time.

    • Erin

      Ooh. Since you have the choice, I’d almost say wait. I’ve already committed, so now I’ll have to eagerly await the next installments. But you…you could read them all at once!

  • http://niesaandanbolynread.wordpress.com Anbolyn

    I forgot how slow it was in the beginning because the second half was so riveting! And, yes, I agree with you about Lena’s characterization. I like that Oliver slowly developed her.

    • Erin

      I know! I forgot, too…good thing I’d kept a few notes! I was behind Lena all the way…I thought Oliver did a fantastic job with her. I can’t wait to read the next one.

  • http://www.thebooknerdclub.blogspot.com mummazappa

    I’m loving this new dystopia trend in YA. I just finished reading Matched by Allie Condie and I loved it. Delirium sounds similar in a way, so it’s on my list for sure! I’ll come back and read your spoilers once I’ve finished it, thanks for putting the alert, nothing annoys me more than reading spoilers!

    • Erin

      Me too, there are some good books coming out! I haven’t read Matched yet, but I want to, especially if Delirium sounds like it! I don’t like spoilers either, and am always afraid of ruining a book for someone, so I try to warn about them. Enjoy Delirium!

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