“They say that the cure for Love will make me happy and safe forever.
And I've always believed them.
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.