Monday, March 28, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver


There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it.

Then, at last, they found the cure.

Now, everything is different. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway 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 then, with only ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable ...

I think I mentioned in my review for Matched by Ally Condie that I found dystopian novels uncomfortable reading (they make me feel a bit breathless and claustrophobic) ever since I read Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Handmaid's Tale. However, I loved Matched so buoyed up by this success I couldn't wait to read Delirium. The first thing I thought was what a brilliant idea, love as a disease. Lena Haloway is counting down the days until she gets her cure. Until then she lives within the confines of the rules of her community afraid that she may get infected. She's witnessed people screaming and struggling as they are dragged to be cured and even remembers a day when a girl threw herself from the laboratory roof so she wouldn't have to go through with it. In the opening chapters of Delirium Lena is content with her life and accepting of her future.

Lena's best friend is Hana and she's wild and vivacious, determined to make fun of everything and enjoy life. Whilst Lena loves this about her she also fears Hana's wild streak. After all, we know from the opening chapters that there was something wild and different about Lena's own mother which didn't serve her well. At the edge of town there's the perimeter fences beyond which lies the Wilds where the Invalids live - a place to fear. Everywhere Lena looks are cautionary tales about what could happen if she doesn't toe the line. Almost everyone else that surrounds Lena has been cured and she yearns to join them. However, one day she meets security guard Alex who shows her that there's another way of thinking, of living, despite the constraints that society is attempting to force upon them.

I realised something about myself whilst reading Delirium. Lena is initially so concerned with protecting herself that she prevents herself from living. The very thing she fears becomes her whole reason for being and enables her to see her surroundings for what they are and question everything she's been told. I felt a range of emotions whilst reading this book and yes, I did feel fearful for Lena (and scared that I may cry at the end) but it's a beautiful book and I'm grateful to have read it. I discovered that it's important for me to read things that I feel I may not enjoy or, god forbidden, might upset me. If I hadn't read Delirium I would have missed out on a brilliant, thought-provoking and well-written book. I wouldn't have read passages that have stayed with me long after I closed the cover. So, thank you Lauren Oliver for a wonderful reading experience.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

What a truly fabulous review Sarah. I love the way you interpreted it personally. <3