Friday, March 29, 2013

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Love, Dystopia, and Fantastic Setting? All in this week's review! 

“They say that the cure for Love will make me happy and safe forever.

And I've always believed them.

Until now.

Now everything has changed.

Now, I'd rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie.

Lena looks forward to receiving the government-mandated cure that prevents the Delirium of love and leads to a safe, predictable, and happy life, until ninety-five days before her eighteenth birthday and her treatment, when she falls in love.” -from Delirium’s Goodreads page

               Since when did book descriptions get fancy on me? What do they think they are -  an Ellen Hopkins novel, with all their weird formatting? That’d actually be great, a dystopian novel by Ellen Hopkins… Anyways, reviewing!
               Delirium is yet another dystopian novel. Now, I can’t be the only one getting tired of them, right? Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner. Some great books, but I am getting desensitized to the idea of controlling societies, even if many of them are completely different from each other. So, when I picked up Delirium, I was slightly apprehensive, expecting another Hunger Games. I didn’t find another Hunger Games.
               Delirium has a subtlety that I haven’t read in another dystopian, besides 1984. In fact, I’d say that’s the most apt comparison. Rather than having a government that is very much focused on maintaining its hold through brute force, Delirium’s government has trained its people to worship the control, to want to be controlled. This desire has been instilled so deeply into the fabric of the culture, to the point of having the Christian religion bastardized. This following passage is taken directly from the book:

The devil stole into the Garden of Eden.

He carried with him the disease-amor deliria nervosa-

in the form of a seed. It grew and flowered into a

magnificent apple tree, which bore apples as bright as blood.

               That’s only one example of common stories, both Christian and cultural, being warped into a terrifyingly recognizable form. This twisting of our world rather than creating a new one puts everything into perspective. It’s not just stories that allow us to relate to this world either; it’s the shop names, the language, the mentions of things we do every day. The world takes on a ghastly shape; I was more horrified here than I was in Hunger Games, a far more brutal story than this. The fact that I was so disgusted reading about this world and its government must be Delirium’s crowning achievement. Unfortunately the rest of the story doesn’t hold up to the standard the setting set.
               Lena, the protagonist, is a fairly stereotypical teen girl. In other words, she views herself as so-so in the looks department, envies her best friend, a blonde beauty, and her life isn’t complete until Mr. Perfect makes it so. At the beginning, Mr. Perfect is played by the government and their promise of the cure, but once she falls for Alex, her life isn’t complete unless he’s there with her. She has dependency issues. Considering the setting, when she does find love it would become a drug of sorts, and she needs something to control her a little. And I agree with that but that doesn’t mean I want to read it. Romance is very rarely interesting in a book for me. When it is, it’s used as a tool to highlight other aspects of the book. The Hunger Games for example, with Peeta and Katniss being put into a position where both can’t win. For me, that wasn’t interesting because I was thinking “Oh my God, Peeta is the dreamiest boy ever.” It was interesting because “Oh my God, they are going to kill each other.”
               Delirium’s setting is made for romance though. I knew there was going to be one going in, it makes sense. I was hoping for one even. A love triangle would even have been acceptable, with both the love interests having very separate ideologies. I wasn’t hoping for a romance to this extent though, where it became more than integral to the plot but became the plot itself. This wouldn’t have been much of a problem if it weren’t so disconcerting. Lena is in no way in a position to make responsible decisions involving relationships. She’s never been in one, never witnessed one, and has only ever heard of them as cautionary tales, so to see her risking her life by making out with dreamy Alex, with his golden brown hair and honey eyes? I wanted to shake Alex, tell him this isn’t right, even if an hour with love is better than a lifetime without it, or whatever he may say. Admittedly it wasn’t as bad as Twilight’s pedophilic relationship, but I was still a little weirded out.
               On top of that, Alex never felt fleshed out to me. I couldn’t ever get a feel for his character or see much depth to him. Instead he felt like a romantic fantasy, a perfect, true guy in a world of lies. Beyond a romantic interest and a way to move the plot forward, what does he do? He tells Lena that she’s pretty, because apparently she thinks otherwise. Maybe in the next books he gains some depth, but a book should be able to stand by itself also.
               Overall, the romance created a middle and end that dragged a little bit. I found myself reading for the quotes at the beginning of all the chapters, rather than for the plot. That shouldn’t happen in a book.
               In spite of the plot and characters, I still did enjoy it. The small touches, like the quotes before each chapter or the familiarity of everything, from convenience stores to Lena saying “F---”, contributed immensely to my immersion.Partnered with the setting, and the story still manages to captivate at parts, and entertain at the least. There were some faulty moments in the writing involving vague description, usually of various stages of disrobement, but I am looking forward to getting my hands on the sequels nonetheless.    
               If you like setting or romance, then I’d advise you to consider picking up Delirium. I think it’s the type of book to offer different things for different people. For me, that happened to be the world, which is my favorite of any classic style dystopian (Hunger Games as opposed to Unwind or The Drowned Cities) that I have read yet. For a Twilight fan, it has a kind of creepy romance. If you’re tired of dystopians though, this won’t hold much appeal for you.


  1. This book sounds so much more interesting when you say the control aspect is subtle. It's a good point I hadn't noticed before. I was personally too caught up thinking the premise is a bit absurd. Why eliminate love? Why would people agree to that initially when you can eliminate a more obviously "bad" emotion like sadness or love? I don't understand, and it just doesn't seem pressing to me the way the issues in more military-like dystopians,do.

    I did like the little excerpts of the book, though, the description of love as a disease. The ways it's phrased, I can definitely see why people think they'll die of it by the end. The beginning "stages" sound fairly accurate, so why would the rest be a lie?

    I was intrigued by the fact Lena is the most normal dystopian protagonist I've encountered. Her life is lie many teenagers' now. She jogs, goes to school, works in a store. That's far more relateable than living in a sci-fi dome or something, and I think it does make the premise a little scarier.

    1. Obviously I meant, why eliminate love when you can get rid of sadness or fear or anger? Not love!

    2. The back story is neglected in the book, isn't it? Without much back story, the eradication of love is silly, but I am fairly willing to suspend my disbelief when the setting is so interesting. As for it not feeling as pressing, I rather enjoyed that. I've read a lot of books where there is a obviously malevolent threat, so this quainter tale becomes really satisfying that way.

      The entire city is really normal. It's fantastic. She buys pork rinds at one point in the book. How could things be more normal than that? Lena you could put into any high school drama, and it'd work. Might not be the most interesting lead for that type of book, but you wouldn't question it.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Have a good night and read a good book!


  2. Hmm, I've been a bit hesitant to read this book. I've seen it around everywhere, because it's so popular, but when I read the synopsis it doesn't sound like something I would enjoy very much.

    Great review!

    1. It relies on you being a fan of dystopias. I can't find much in the book that is worth reading otherwise, considering that there are other books with better romances or characters or action or whatever you may be looking for.

      Thank you. I am not above flattery.

      Have a good day and read a good book!

  3. I have Delirium sitting on my nightstand waiting to be read because I have friends that are going to start getting violent soon if I don't finally read it, but I am very wary about it. I've been on the outside of so much book hype, especially dystopian. Point-in-case; Divergent - I did not buy into a thing about that book's world-building. I'm terrified this will be just another example of me not fitting in.

    On the other hand, though, I do like a good romance, and if the setting and backstory are solid, I can really get into dystopias (see Hunger Games and Unwind). I'm going to remain optimistic about Delirium and hope I at least like it as much as you seem to, even if I don't fangirl over it like most of my blogger friends.

    Great review, Nobs!

    - Kelly @ PaperFantasies

    1. I'm sorry, but Divergent is pretty good. What didn't work for you with it? The lack of back story? Because if so, the next book clears that up... sorta.

      Unwind and UnWholly are so damn good. Hunger Games had its moments, but I didn't fall in love with it like so many did. Probably because I couldn't stand Peeta.

      I don't read a ton of romance or enjoy them really, so I'm not willing to pass too much judgement on this one, but the setting is great. Backstory is lacking here, but it makes sense for it to be missing also. The setting is timeless in a way. There's the before cure, and the now. Anything else practically doesn't exist. I imagine it'll be another case of the sequels fleshing it out.

    2. Divergent felt like an insult to human intelligence by claiming we could devolve into a society that can't see the equal values of many different traits. It was supposed to end seperation by seperating everyone? What? Who thinks that bravery has to do with tattoos and dare-devil stunts? The initiation process was waaaaay overdone and unbelievable to me because of that. And I couldn't standFour. But I get that everyone else loved it so I'm chalking it up to a case of it's-me-not-you.

      I love Peeta lol. There's a little fangirl in my cheering for the boy with the bread. Plus I like the underlying message, and Haymitch is BOSS. I was kind of disappointed in Mockingjay, though.

    3. Would your opinions have changed if the book supplied more background knowledge to explain the behavior? Personally, I am willing to suspend my disbelief quite a bit when the setting is semi-interesting. Divergent's was barely interesting enough to do that. It played with extremes too much. So, I agree see where you are coming from. Though I didn't mind Four.

      Thing is, he's a baker named after bread. I'm sorry, but his name is Pita, just spelled different. That's not cool with me. And he was too good of a person. Peeta was frustrating to me, seriously frustrating.

      Catching Fire was the one that disappointed me. It just felt like a bridge between the first book and the last. Mockingjay degenerated into "Katniss runs at bad guy. Katniss gets hurt. Katniss in hospital. Something irritates her so she runs at new bad guy." By the end I was just going, "Been here, done that." And then the ending was just "BAM!" I'm the type to want epilogues to have epilogues. Still, Mockingjay was probably my favorite of the three. My hopes were so high for the fast that it let me down, while reading the second I somehow got a second wave of hope, and by the third my thoughts weren't clouded by other people's opinion of the story. Damn you hype!!!

  4. It was great to hear your thoughts on this one! I stayed away from Delirium in particular, because the plot sounded exactly like that of Matched by Allie Condie (At least that's what I think her name is.) In fact, I've read countless reviews comparing the two from each other, and ultimately, the reviewers barely found any differences at all. And since Matched was one of the most boring dystopian novels I've ever read, I'm 99% sure I won't be picking this one up anytime soon. Romance is great, but it's really action I'm looking for. xD

    Followed back. :)
    Daphne @ Reading until Dawn

    1. I've read both, and it's a fair comparison. The main idea--being unable to love whom you want--is the same. Of course there are differences in the societies, characters, etc. I would argue Delirium has a more beautiful writing style, but that's fairly subjective and not the most pressing reason to pick up the book, if you wouldn't enjoy the plot anyway.

  5. Great review, Cain. I'm a sucker for Dystopian books. I enjoyed The Hunger Games, Divergent, Legend, and The Maze Runner. However, I'm still hesitant to get this book. The 'love' concept puts me off, as I don't enjoy romance. I might still pick it up, though.

    Kaykay @ The Creative Forum
    I found your site on Goodreads. I'm following via GFC and BlogLovin. Thanks as you stop by my blog. :) I hope to stop by here more often.