August 26, 2011

review: delirium

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway 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 with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.


I heard about Delirium when I read Lauren Oliver’s post on Character Development for WriteOnCon. At the end of her post, there was this snippet about her book, and I knew that I had to read it:

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 didn’t really know what to expect when I started reading. I’m a sucker for forbidden romance so I knew that I would enjoy it on that level. Everything else was icing on the cake.

The story is told from Lena’s perspective, a very goody-two-shoes sort of girl. She follows all the rules. She believes that the deliria is dangerous, and she is grateful that there is a procedure to get rid of it. She trusts her government and their rules. When she undergoes her evaluation, the test that will determine where she will go to school, who she will marry, and what life she will lead after she’s cured, she bombs it, giving entirely unacceptable answers. She says her favorite color is gray, the color right before the sun rises, a pale nothing color that reminds her of waiting for something good to happen. She should say blue. She refers to Romeo & Juliet as beautiful, when she should think it frightening. And she has no idea why she can’t give the right answers. She’s saved by a stampede of cows, a demonstration by the resistance, the Invalids, those who haven’t been cured, those who live off the grid, in the Wilds. And that’s when she sees Alex for the first time.

She meets him again with her not-so-accepting, best friend Hana, when they are on one of their jogs through a restricted area. And Lena, though raised to never even consider such things, starts thinking about who he must be paired with. She notices the details of his face and his clothes. She’s attracted to him. She starts showing the symptoms of amor deliria nervosa, the fatal disease.

I enjoyed reading the story of Alex and Lena’s romance, innocent, yet powerful. My heart raced while reading their story. I cried. It takes a really good book, really good characterization to make me empathize so deeply with the characters and their story. I won’t give away any more than I already have. It’s a book worth reading, even if you don’t like future dystopians, even if you don’t like first-person, present tense. This is a book that will erase your literary prejudices. I loved it.

Reading Level: Young Adult
Format: NOOK Book, 480 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (August 2011)

Rating: ★★★★★


  1. I agree! it was a great book. I can't wait for next book in this series. :)

  2. This sounds like a great read. I'll have to add it to my TBR list.

    Thanks for the great review.