I wasn’t really sure what to expect out of Lauren Oliver’s Delirium. I adored her debut novel Before I Fall, but had also read mixed reviews of Delirium. With dystopia being a hot genre right now, Delirium was entering a market where it’s tough to stand out among competitors. Although the romance had me turning pages right until the very end, the world building left something to be desired.
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.
I was a little dubious when I heard the idea that Lena lives in a world where love is disease. Oliver did a great job of explaining what the world was like before and after love was classified as disease. However, I never felt that I got an idea of how or why the transition to the dystopian society happened. There was also a disconnect in Oliver’s explanation of the dangers of deliria. I understood why it could be so dangerous to the individual, but never felt like Oliver never showed me why the illness of separate individuals is bad for society as a whole.
Having read Oliver’s work previously, I hoped that if nothing else, the writing would be amazing. There were a few strikingly beautiful passages, but a lot of the writing just felt flat. I also wasn’t fanatical about how she developed the character of Alex, the love interest, because it took me about three quarters of the novel to figure out why he was special.
The plot of this novel had something of a weak start, but got progressively better. At first it seemed as though every time something went awry for Lena, another event would happen that would conveniently keep hear from getting into any real trouble. Towards the end of the novel, though, I got a much better sense of the dangers of her relationship with Alex. Oliver’s ending to Delirium was so abrupt that it felt contrived and as thought it was there to manipulate my emotions, instead of feeling like a natural ending to the story.
In the market of dystopian novels, Delirium struggles to stand out from its competitors. Oliver has crafted a compelling love story, but I felt that she focused on it so heavily that world building was neglected. Her characters and broad ideas were at least interesting enough that I will likely pick up the sequel in hopes of liking it better.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you!