three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
52-May-June-2011
user_rating: 
0

A-DeliriumLauren Oliver's debut YA novel, Before I Fall (2010), was a New York Times best seller. Her second YA effort, Delirium, is a work of dystopian fiction.

The Story: In 95 days, Lena Haloway, an orphan living with her aunt and uncle in a near-future, government-managed society, will undergo a procedure that has become a way of life upon turning 18: a treatment for the amor deliria nervosa (love) disease that purportedly causes civil unrest. At first, Lena and her best friend Hana look forward to the day that they'll be "cured." Then, Lena meets the mysterious Alex--the boy of her dreams, the boy who makes her stomach flutter, the boy who consumes her with amor deliria nervosa. As their romance grows, Lena knows she's entering dangerous territory--and must decide how much she is willing to risk for love.
HarperCollins. 448 pages. $17.99. ISBN: 9780061726828

Fantastic Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"I don't know how Oliver was able to pull it off but I'm just ecstatic that this book surpassed all of my expectations. I found Delirium totally believable. And after that ... ending, I can't wait to read the next installment." Tina

Wondrous Reads 4 of 5 Stars
"Delirium is a fantastic piece of literature. Anyone who ever mouths off about how YA doesn't earn its place in modern fiction should read this, and then promptly eat their words. It's proof that immense talent exists within the genre, and that stories like this have the ability to make readers lose themselves in a concept as alien to us as the notion of loving freely is to Lena." Prophecygirl

YA Reads 4 of 5 Stars
"The writing itself is both thrilling and hypnotizing. ... The dystopian world built up in Delirium is believable, with its underlying sense of terror--an almost robotic world without freedom and love which is cleverly illustrated by the pieces of propaganda at the beginning of each chapter." Christina

Layers of Thought 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Lauren Oliver uses a technique where each chapter is preceded with a snippet of the ‘new world order'--these are the reworked laws, poetry, fables and mythology which have been changed and distorted by the creators of this dystopian society. ... I loved this aspect, giving the story contextual interest and attesting to the power of literature and stories as a way to establish and maintain belief systems." Shellie

Read in a Single Setting 2.5 of 5 Stars
"What fails to resonate with the reader is the wider anti-love context as a whole, which when placed against the near-future backdrop Oliver provides simply lacks any sort of veracity. ... Delirium takes place in what feels to be a sort of Christian society, and given that love is one of the underlying tenets of this religion (and indeed most religions), it seems odd to suddenly renege on all of this." Stephanie

Critical Summary

Critics agreed that in a crowded YA field, Delirium stands out with its original premise of love as a disease and with its insight into love and human nature. However, a few reviewers felt that the author failed to establish a convincing context for the evils of love. "While we're given an adequate what of the situation, we're not really given a plausible reason for why. What exactly is the problem with love?" asked Read in a Single Setting. However, most reviewers forgave this flaw in light of Oliver's excellent character development. "Although Oliver didn't 100% convince me with Lena's society, she did make me love her characters. I fell for them. Hard," noted Wondrous Reads. Fans of this heartbreaking, hopeful novel will look forward to two more in a planned series: Pandemonium (2012) and Requiem (2013).