Sunday, August 18, 2013
by Lauren Oliver
Reviewed by Sesana
Three out of five stars
Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe.
I wonder whether the procedure will hurt.
I want to get it over with.
It’s hard to be patient.
It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet.
Still, I worry.
They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness.
The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.
I have to start by saying that I really do like the way that Lauren Oliver writes. She constructs nice sentences, and has a gift for describing scenes and characters vividly, but without getting too purple. I still didn't love this book, and I'll spend the rest of the review trying to say why I didn't. But Oliver is a good writer, and Delirium is more than just a decent book.
When you read this book, the very first thing you need to do is break out a crane to help you suspend your disbelief. The thing is, Oliver's dystopian world, where love is an illness with a failsafe, and mandatory, cure, is fairly well thought out, except for one major thing: how did we get here? Because it seems like she's thought about nearly every detail but that. I have such a hard time believing that this would ever come to pass. Imagine how much of the world today would react to being told that a scientist has decided that he has the cure to love. Maybe some people would take him up on it, but I think that far more would be horrified. And the government that made the cure mandatory... Well, let's just say that I doubt that government would last for long. But you have to ignore all of that and just take it as given that this did happen, and the vast majority of the population were thrilled at the change. I had a really hard time buying in that far, which did affect how much I enjoyed the book.
And it is, indeed, a romance. As far as YA romances go, it wasn't a terrible one. Alex might not have been the most exciting of love interests, but he was a nice enough guy and I felt like Oliver did a good job of making me believe that Lena was truly falling in love with him. Her emotions felt real enough for me to sympathize with her, even if I didn't feel much for Alex myself. As a romance, it was neither exciting nor infuriating, so I guess I'll take that.
I couldn't help but compare this book to Matched, which I also felt lukewarm towards. They are both YA dystopias where the evil in society is basically arranged marriage. Delirium does raise the bar quite a bit, and I don't remember anything in Matched being as chilling as Lena's visit to the Crypt. Oliver also gets bonus points for acknowledging that gay and lesbian people would exist in this world (Here, it's called Unnaturalism, and the cure will fix them! Doesn't that sound like a great idea for a book in its own right?) which I don't recall Matched doing at all. Unless you're really attached to the premise, there probably isn't any point in reading two YA dystopias that revolve around a lack of romantic freedom. Of the two, I would say that Delirium is better written and has higher stakes.
Also reviewed on Goodreads.