Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Me on Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Pages: 441 (Hardcover)
This is another book in a string of YA dystopian romances that's gotten tons and tons of positive hype as well as knowledge that there will be a book two and three in the series to follow, to be released in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Lauren Oliver's debut Before I Fall came out in March 2010, but Delirium is my first time reading a book by the author.
In Lena's world, love is a disease that is cured once you turn eighteen. Afterward, you don't have to worry about catching it and are able to lead a healthy and productive life. Ever since she was young, Lena has counted down the days until her procedure. It will be a life without pain, a life carefully measured out, a life that's safe and predictable. A happy life.
But, with ninety-five days to go before she turns eighteen, Lena falls in love.
I found it to be an amazing concept, the idea of love being a horrible and deadly disease that everyone must be cured of. If you think about it, love is a disease. It can distract us, make us feel strange, pull us away from tasks. The idea of being cured does feel strange, through.
While being a dystopian YA where the controlling government reminded me of Ally Condie's Matched, I didn't have a problem with it. Teens rebel against authority, it's probably coded into their genetic makeup, and it's so likely that teens will rebel against an authoritarian government with spies and codes and rules upon rules and restrictions on music and literature and certain types of relationships. This government was so cold, so controlling, so heartless. The fact that the book is set in Portland, Maine, a recognizable city in a currently big and important country, made reading it just a little creepy.
Lena seems like such a reluctant heroine. Constantly running, running from her past, her memories, running towards her birthday and the procedure. There's no escaping any of it, but she still runs, hoping to reach the day when her pain will end and she can be happy again. Then there's Alex, friendly and mysterious Alex, who gives Lena a new reason to keep running.
There's one character I have to talk about who I loved more than the others. Lena's little cousin, Grace. I love Gracie. There's totally something else going on with her. I just know there's a reason why she won't talk, and I hope she appears in the next two books.
When I reached the final page and read the words that take us out of Delirium and into Pandemonium, I thought of those who have fought, fought with everything they had, every single inch of them, fought for love. Fought for love and never gave up, using the strength and courage of their convictions. Fought for love and died. As I type this, I can feel the tears building in my eyes, hear the racing of my heart in my chest. I can't remember the last time I read a book, any book of any genre, that's had me this close to actual tears. That says so much about Lauren Oliver, about her writing, her story, her characters, and the message that's woven into every single word on every single page.
Love can hurt us, ruin us, kill us, but it can also save us. It can fill us with so much happiness and bright light we feel like we're about to burst. Pain. Isolation. Death. None of it matters when it comes face to face with love. It weakens us, but it can also make us so much stronger then we were before.
And it's not just romantic love. It's all kinds of love. The love parents have for their children, the love friends and siblings have for each other, the love of poetry and books and music and movies and art and running. The love we have for freedom, for life and hopes and dreams, for a future where we can be happy.
My heart breaks for those who cannot love as they want to, those who were in the past and are now in the present kept from loving as they want to. To be kept from love, to be told that you cannot love because it's not normal or right or correct or proper, has the ability to crush the soul. If this world Lauren Oliver writes of ever becomes reality, if amor deliria nervosa must be cured for the good of us all, I will head off into the Wilds and you are welcome to join me.
This book is amazingly powerful, amazingly haunting and beautiful and mysterious and gorgeous and thoughtful. The prose was lyrical and powerful, heartfelt and heart-wrenching, moving and passionate. Delirium will be a book that stays with me for years to come.