The dystopian genre is the latest trend in the world of Teen/Young Adult fiction, along with trilogies and romance – sometimes these genres of novel can be mind-blowingly amazing; other times downright awful. Delirium falls into the former category.
Seventeen-going-on-eighteen Lena lives in a world not so far in the future where love is a classified disease – the deadliest of all deadly things, destroying people’s happiness, making them dangerous and even leading to death; as such, as you as you reach your eighteenth birthday you are cured of amor deliria nervosa by means of a simple brain operation. Love is strictly forbidden in society, boy-girl contact amongst minors is shunned and anyone who shows any signs of the disease is promptly disposed of or operated on, like Lena’s mother. And Lena believes all the propaganda, until she meets Alex by complete chance…
Delirium is very beautifully written, and I especially liked the extracts from various bits of propaganda at the beginning of each chapter. Oliver shows the effects of the operation, along with the lovely message that love is what makes life worth living, through several characters – like Lena’s poor sister Rachel and her aunt – whose lives are an endless repeated cycle and who care for and about nothing, which is a terrifying thought. The raiders were quite brutal as well, but I feel they could have been a wee bit more so, to really get the message across to Lena that they are not there to protect people, and which leads to the realisation that everything she has been told is a lie, which in turn leads to some really great character development on her behalf.
However, when I started reading, I was a bit surprised as I don’t think the plot was as I was expecting for some reason, and I think that is my major criticism – it has a wonderfully original premise which could have been a masterpiece of fiction, but the execution doesn’t quite do it justice (and I don’t think it helps that I have been reading a lot of similar novels recently). Like Matched, not an awful lot is explained about how love came to be identified as a disease, or about Invalids and sympathisers. Finally, I don’t really like the cover – it’s far too bland for this wonderful book, because despite my criticism and the slow pace at the beginning, Delirium really is a brilliant book that I think everybody should have the chance to read.
[SYNOPSIS: Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.]