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Delirium by Lauren Oliver

The idea behind Delirium by Lauren Oliver is an interesting one. In this post-apocalyptic America, to be in love means to be infected-amor deliria nervosa. I've read quite a few dystopian novels and series, and usually the end of the world is war or famine or aliens. The end of the world has never been love. At the beginning of the book, we're told it's been 64 years since the president declares that love is a disease. All I can say is that I don't want to be around for that presidency. I don't want to live in a world where there is no love.


The book focuses around Lena Halloway-Tiddle who has been waiting for her whole life to be cured. At the beginning of the novel, she has 95 days until she is cured. Before that, she takes an Evaluation, just like everyone does. Evaluations pretty much decide your worth. You are asked basic questions like what is your favorite color, what do you do in your free time, what your favorite book is. As simple as they are, you must be careful with how you answer. When it comes to your favorite color, Lena says that "Black is too morbid; red will set them on edge; pink is too juvenile; orange is freakish." Blue and green are the only safe colors. People are scored between 1 and 10, 10 being the best. 

On the day of Lena's Evaluation, she is nervous. She is trying to answer correctly, but she can't make her mouth form the correct words. Instead she's saying that her favorite book is Romeo & Juliet because it's tragically beautiful and she loves grey. Gasp! While she is sitting there tanking, a herd of cows has broken into the building where the evaluations. They have been dressed up in hospital gowns and wigs and have "Not cure. Death." written on their sides. They have been let in by the Invalids, who every now and then stage protests. The Invalids are people who have made a run for it and live in the Wilds because they don't want to not be able to make their own decisions and not have love. While Lena is half-freaking out, half-laughing, she looks up to the observation deck of the room she's in to see a boy looking down on the chaos laughing.

The boy is an Invalid as Lena suspects; his name is Alex. He has infiltrated the system, faked his scars to show that he has been cured.

Lena and Alex soon fall in love, and the relationship between them is your average first young romance, except that they have to hide it. Which, I guess that can be normal too, but usually if you're hiding your relationship and people find out, you don't have to worry that you're going to go under the knife and have the love cut out of you.

Lena and Alex plan to run away before Lena is cured, however, their hide out has been discovered and the book ends with a police chase. Lena makes it over the fence, but Alex is taken prisoner. It is unknown if he is dead or alive. I'm going with alive, but I have a feeling that they will "cure" him and use him against Lena in one of the later books.


Magdalena "Lena" Ella Holloway-Tiddle: Before Alex, Lena is the perfect, under-aged, un-cured person. She keeps her distance from men, has memorized The Book of Shhh, and can't wait to be cured. After Alex, she sneaks out, lies to her aunt and uncle, and makes out with Alex every chance she gets. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but it felt like they made out a lot. Although there are times she annoys me, I know that it's only because she's still young and naive and is experiencing her first love and I'm just jealous.

Hana Tate: Lena's best friend since the 2nd grade. She is your traditional pretty, popular girl that everyone loves, or at least acknowledges since no one can love. Before Evaluations, she tells Lena "you can't be happy unless you're unhappy sometime." She also listens to illegal music and goes to illegal parties, trying to soak up being un-cured as much as possible. When Lena offers Hana a chance to run away with her and Alex, Hana turns her down.

Annabelle Halloway: Lena's mother who supposedly killed herself when Lena was about 6 or 7. She had the procedure to cure her done 3 times and it never worked, she continued to love her husband and children. At the end of the novel, when Lena is telling Alex about her mother, he realizes he knows who Lena's mother is and doesn't think she is dead. He takes Lena to the Crypts (where they keep the crazies) where he suspects her to be. When they get there, the cell where her mother was kept is covered in the word "LOVE" and she escaped a few weeks before. Finding this out is what spurs Lena to want to run away.

Carol Tiddle: Lena's aunt who took in Lena and her sister, Rachel, after the death of their parents. She is very robotic and firmly believes that The Book of Shhh is the law...because it is.

Grace Tiddle: Lena's cousin (I think technically second cousin, but don't quote me on that) who is 6 years old and doesn't talk. Carol thinks she's stupid, but she's actually a pretty smart kid, she helps Lena escape at the end. Her mother, Marcia, is dead now. She had a heart attack.

Alex Sheathes: An Invalid who has infiltrated the system. His mom died shortly after he was born and his dad never knew he existed. When he was 10, he moved in with his "aunt and uncle," sympathizers who want to destroy they system. He goes to college and has a job, but it's all for show. He is a reader, which makes me like him a little.

Rachel: Lena's sister who is married and lives a normal life. She was infected before she was cured, and so the date of her surgery was moved up so that way she would be better.

What I Liked

-Oliver does an amazing job at creating this world where love is a bad thing. I want to know more about the procedure to cure people and The Book of Shhh and how the world got this way.
-The subtle hints towards Romeo & Juliet. It's one of my favorite Shakespeare tragedies and it was modernized nicely.
-The young love story is pure and realistic.

What I Didn't Like

-I felt like the ending with the police chance was somewhat random. There was only one other raid before the end, and then one situation where Lena is dealing with Regulators. I feel like if there had been more police involvement before this, it would have been more believable that they would have gone to such lengths to stop Lena and Alex.
-I never really connected with any of the characters. There were sparks of connection, but it wasn't consistent. 

Rating: 6/10
Pages: 440 (paperback)
Books in Series: 3 primary works; 4 novellas
Genre(s): Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Romance
Would I Recommend It: It's a coin toss, depends on the person asking


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