Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Book 1 - Delirium Trilogy)
Released 2011
ISBN 978-0-340-98093-4
Purchased - Amazon (Box Set - Click to buy)
"It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure."


Ninety-five days, and then I'll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It's hard to be patient. It's hard not to be afraid while I'm still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn't touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't.

My Thoughts

The Delirium Trilogy has been on my reading list for years. I loved the concept immediately but didn't pick up the books until now.

Lena lives in a world where love has been classified as a disease and where people are cured of the ability to love as soon as they turn eighteen. Being a huge dystopian fan I loved this idea straight away. What would a society be like without love? Not just romantic love, but love for anybody and anything? Lena's society lives that. They are stripped to indifference by a brain operation. They don't love, they don't hate, they don't feel. 

The world building is great! We get to feel as though we are in Portland with Lena through Oliver's amazing writing. I wish that we had seen a little more of some places than we did, but I am reserving judgement until I have read all three books. 

What we did see from Lauren Oliver was beautifully descriptive prose and a world that felt real. 
The added quotes at the beginning of each chapter add depth. They are all taken from fictional books and other sources from within the story and gave me a sense of how long society had been this way and how strictly controlled people are. There are even children's playground rhymes!

My favourite character, surprisingly to me, was Lena. 
I do not usually gravitate towards the protagonist in a story. I have a tendency to fall in love with the side-kicks or even the villains before the main character. But Lena is special. She is realistic in a way that I don't see often enough in YA fiction.
  • She has authority figures in her life and she respects them. She has to sneak around like a normal seventeen year old girl would because the adults are watching her.
  • She doesn't blindly accept anything and questions everything. 
  • When her mind changes about things, no matter how big or small, there is always an inciting incident. 
  • She has loyalties and responsibilities and doesn't dump them easily for anything. 
Alex was possibly my least favourite character. Not because he is a bad character at all, but I felt that he was slightly underdeveloped. I can't put my finger on a reason why, but he simply felt a little flat.

The story felt like it was plodding along at times, but in an organic way. It felt natural, as though we were truly living this time with Lena. The big twists weren't all massively shocking because we suspected them in the same way that Lena did, or at least we hoped for them as she did. As a reader I felt completely involved in Lena's emotions and choices. I felt connected to her in that rare way a reader does when a character is really special.

My only real bug-bear was Lena's "tidal wave" dialogues. She appeared shy and quiet, but when she did open up and let her stories and feelings out, she REALLY let them out. For pages at a time. 
This was annoying but it was understandable. She couldn't tell these things to anybody but Alex. It is only natural that they would flood out the moment that he pulled the plug. 
Unfortunately it also led to the same things being repeated, once to the reader and again to Alex. I feel that this could have been cut down to make room for more action, or more world building. 

As I write this, book two is already on the table beside me. I cannot wait to dip back into the world and that makes me kinda glad that I waited until I could get the box set. I would completely recommend this book to dystopian YA book people everywhere. Go and read!

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