Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium--Lauren Oliver
February 2011 by HarperTeen
441 pages--Goodreads

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 can't decide If I like the writing in Delirium or not.  In some places it seems overly emotional to the point of being sappy, but in others it's quite skillful.  I like Lena a lot as a narrator.  Her mannerisms are just funny, but that could have just been the style the reader spoke in.  Alex doesn't have any of his own drives or goals or even a personality. He's just there to fall in love with.  The book contains more language than I'm comfortable with.  And I kept waiting for someone to pop out and stab everyone in the back a la Uglies, but it never happened.  

wish I had known from the beginning that Delirium takes place in an alternate present.  I thought it took place in the near future and there's no way our culture would accept such a drastic change (love being a dangerous disease) in so little time.  It makes much more sense in an alternate present with its own culture.  Oliver should have made that clearer. 

Delirium doesn't quite make it as a dystopia for me.  Dystopias need to explore the what if's and the how's and the how could we get there's of our present society extended to the extremes of the book's world.  Delirium is too big a jump to be plausible.  So while it is an interesting enough premise, it doesn't do what a dystopia is supposed to do.  Matched did a better job of bridging that gap to a similar premise.

And I get the whole "resist the evil oppressive government to and with your last breath and never submit" thing, but I don't think conflating martyrdom and suicide is going to help our teen population at all.

But my biggest pet peeve is that Oliver completely misunderstood Romeo and Juliet.  English Major Hulk Smash!  Yes, Romeo and Juliet is a tragic love story, but it is NOT the greatest love story ever.  It's a play about two twitterpated preteens who make horrible decisions and their families who also make horrible decisions.  Come on!  Romeo begins the play head over heels for Rosalind.  That's why he goes to the Capulet party in the first place.  When he sees Juliet, he forgets Rosalind ever existed.  Given a few more days, he may have moved on to another girl.  And Juliet was only 13.  Do you know how many crushes I had when i was 13?  A lot.  Does not equal true love.  This is not the play to base your romantic relationships on.

So, not an awful book, but not a great one either.  Oliver got me more involved in the plot of Delirium than Roth did with Divergent, but I was still just so so in the end.  I cared how the book ended, but I don't feel at all driven to finish the series.  2.5 stars.

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