Thursday, 14 June 2012

Delirium - Lauren Oliver (#1)

I saw Delirium many times before I picked it up. I think the reason may have been that the idea of love being a disease seemed very...far-fetched? Basic? I'm not quite sure but that is what turned me off. I think I also had a nagging idea that this would be a little like Twilight and with some of the negative reviews I have seen for this book, this wasn't exactly on my to-read list.
I found this in the library, drawn by the different cover I found to the other versions I had seen. When I realised what the book was, in fact, the ONE I had seen, I had already read the blurb and pulled in. I was already intrigued for positive and negative reasons - it was time to give it a go.

Synopsis: Set in the future, Lena Holloway lives in a world where love is a official disease that everyone suffers from. Scientists have found a cure that take this (and other) feelings away. Lena is 17, close to receiving her cure. When all teenagers turn 18, they receive the cure with their partners selected for them as well as their job and the number of offspring they will have. It is how Lena's world works and she has always looked forward to the day when she'll be cured. With 95 days to go, Lena does something amazing. She falls in love.

Review: The book is set in the future as one can possible tell. It is not too far into it as there are references that any reader nowadays would understand. It is at least 100 years as Lena states in the first few lines of the book 'It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected the cure'. So as you can tell, the cure is still relatively brand new.
Despite this being set in the future however, there is this underlying feeling, for me anyway, that technology has reversed or at least is less accessible than now or we think technology will be. For starters, Lena's daily chore is washing the dishes by hand. She mentions only the rich can afford computers. And that they pass the time by reading or testing each other for exams or dreaming of their future partners. Needless to say, when you start to read, subtly Oliver has created a world that although largely recognisable, is very different to our own.

The idea of love being a cure is interesting. This was part of the reason for me being turned off before but throughout reading, it was interesting to see how this came about and how they enforced it. Without a doubt, this world is a harsh state where there are curfews for the uncured and patrols to avoid. Lena lives in a safe haven, waiting to be finally cured and then continue with her life. Each city is barriered so no-one can get in. But no-one can get out either without permission. The curfews for the uncured prevent any wrongdoings, which only the uncured would cause. Also, if 'amour deliria nervosa' is shown in young people, they are whisked off to be cured straight away. Easy. The only people who can fight this scheme won't because they have no emotions and the uncured just want to be 18 to be cleansed of this disease. Again, easy for the government to control.
It is clear that Oliver has seriously thought about the world and it comes through. I liked the stereotypical things for teenagers to do being deemed scandalous to do for Lena and her best friend, Hana such as a house party, listening to music. It really put into context the do's and don't's of the world especially for a YA audience.
So the idea was clever and can see it happening in the future if I'm honest. However, at times it did feel a little far-fetched like 'Would people REALLY allow that?'. And that President that declared love a disease and the subsequent presidents must have been really manipulative to have the people ALLOW it. It felt to me that there was a major disaster to spur this thought however this is never said. Just seemed a little weird that they would suddenly one day declare this.

The novel was overall very addictive with the mystery and plot twists that keep you reading. Numerous times the chapter would end on a cliff-hanger and then the next chapter would start with an anecdote until you found out what happened eventually. I did find myself flicking through the next few pages to see what would happen as I was on the edge of my seat. The anecdotes were effective as a lot of Lena's past was revealed through there which helps to fill the reader in.

The romance. As you can tell from the synopsis, there is romance throughout with Lena and...I don't want to say who because I was NOT expecting it when it happened. Yes, it is partly obvious at the beginning but...oh you'll find out! Anyway, on reflection, to me the romance felt very fast and sudden where hate to love goes very quickly. It just seemed quite unrealistic to me. However, the romance is nice - not over the top or understated but the perfect amount and to this heavy and depressing topic, gives a nice positive feeling as well.

The novel has been praised for Lauren Oliver's use of poetic prose. Meh, I'm not always a fan of it while others rave so I'm probably not the most reliable on this term. I thought it started off very well and creative. However, as the book wore on, I found it a bit boring and tedious especially if it was in the middle of a tense scene. I'm just not a fan of it but in this case, I felt it broke this book up well and made it a bit different.

I read this book straight after Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (review) and for me, they are both so alike in the writing, setting and plot. Both Tally and Lena defy authority both knowingly and unknowingly, they find romance and almost conform to that authority. AND THEY BOTH HAVE CLIFFHANGER ENDINGS. I think Uglies plays more on the world and the problems within it when Delirium puts emphasis on the romance and her own personal struggle. So if you have read either of these books, you should like the other.

Overall, despite my critisms, I did certainly enjoy this book and it has hooked me for the rest of the series. Lauren Oliver has created this original novel that for me played homage to the best bits of other dystopian novels such as Matched by Ally Condie (review) and The Declaration by Gemma Malley (review) - it certainly is a dystopian fan's delight.
I can totally see why Lauren Oliver is such an acclaimed writer in the blogosphere and after reading the first chapter of her debut, Before I Fall, she is definitely now on my radar. With so many questions left open at this ending, I am definitely looking for the newly released sequel Pandemonium.
This is one time when the quote 'It's better to have loved and lost rather than to never have loved at all' rings quite true.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com/
Pages: 393
Publisher: Hodder
Challenges: None

The sequel, Pandemonium is out now in all good bookshops. The third in the trilogy is out next year.


So, while I was reading this on holiday, I listened to the below song and thought the lyrics went really well with this book, especially the chorus. The song is 'The Way You Make Me Feel' by Steps. If you don't know who they are, they were a British 90's band and also one of my favourite childhood bands - and my first concert! They had lots of hits like 'Stomp' and 'Tragedy'. They recently got back together so I'm having a bit of a Steps-fest and re-visiting all the old songs. 
Those who have read Delirium, have a listen and let me know if you agree or disagree. Enjoy! (I love the dresses...)

3 comments:

  1. Brilliant review! Okay, definitely going to need to read Uglies, now.
    You so need to read Before I Fall. It's... Magic [without being at all corny :P].
    I agree, the whole idea of it is so clever.<3

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    Replies
    1. Thanks!
      Yeah I saw Before I Fall the other day in the library so I wish I picked it up now because it's on loan now. Reading the first chapter, I was like 'Ah, I want to read this book. Now!'

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  2. I didn't enjoy this book as much as I'd hoped because it was so like Uglies. The whole shape of the story was almost identical, though the details and writing were different. I LOVED Before I Fall, though.

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