Thursday, 19 May 2011

Delirium By Lauren Oliver

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...

Delirium is the first book I've read by Lauren Oliver and I liked it and even though I thought it worked better as a romance and coming of age story more than a dystopian it is still an enjoyable read with a very intriguing premise.

The whole dystopian part of the book is based on there being a cure to love. Love is seen as a disease that causes all the upheaval in the world. The idea that love can be eradicated is quite a scary thought considering it's what I believe is the fundamental essence that gives hope even in troubled times. I'm not sure I was ever truly convinced that any society would ban love whilst reading this book. I just didn't feel it was plausible that a government could convince enough people to follow a way of life that involves the complete removal of strong emotions. I can understand why a government would want to suppress strong emotions like hate or the craving for power, for example, but not love.

Lena is the typical brainwashed teenager in this dystopian world and can't wait to have her procedure when she's eighteen so she is no longer at risk from 'catching' the love disease. At the start of the story she doesn't think for herself or question any of the rules, she just thinks what she is told to think about love and it's not until her best friend leaves a seed of doubt in her mind that it begins to grow and she ends up questioning the world around her. It's not until she meets Alex and discovers there is more beyond the fences of their city that she sees that she can choose her own rules. I really enjoyed reading about Lena's gradual changing perception of love and how she is finally able to think for herself and with this comes a huge amount of courage that allows her to go against everything she'd been taught to believe and to finally listen to her heart and see the truth.

The story did take me a while to immerse myself in this new world and I would have liked to learn more about how this apparent disgust at love came about and how the government implemented this compulsory cure on everybody. However, I did get the feel for how brutal the regulators could be especially during the raids with their obvious delight in violence. It's like their main enjoyment is the catching of anybody that appears to show the slightest hint of being in love and the doling out severe punishments. So there was that constant fearfulness to the world that you might just catch the regulators on a bad day.

The part where I think Oliver really excels in this book is how she describes love and she managed this with some really beautiful writing. I loved it how Lena finally seems to awaken with the first stirrings of this new emotion. I also really liked the ending too which I thought I had guessed near the end but Oliver actually surprised me with a suspenseful and heart-pounding cliffhanger and I can't wait to see what Lena will do next.

Whilst I think there are more depths that could have been delved into with this society it is only the first in a trilogy and I really did start to care about the characters towards the end and can't wait to learn more about the Wilds (a society of people that have managed to escape the clutches of the cure). I would recommend this book to anybody who liked the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld because there are definitely some parallels between the stories.

Random Passage: Sometimes I feel as though there are two me's, one coasting directly on top of the other: the superficial me, who nods when she's supposed to nod and says what she's supposed to say, and some other, deeper part, the part that worries and dreams and says 'Grey.' Most of the time they move along in sync and I hardly notice the split, but sometimes it feels as though I'm two whole different people and I could rip apart at any second. Once I confessed this to Rachel. She just smiled and told me it would all be better after the procedure. After the procedure, she said, it would be like coasting, all glide, every day as easy as one, two, three.

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