Saturday, January 1, 2011


Deliria amor nervosa, also known as love, used to be revered by mankind and embraced. It was something to be proud of, something to attain. Now, deliria is eradicated from citizens as soon as safely possible: shortly after the eighteenth birthday. This devastating disease can be harmful both if you have it and if you don't. Anything that can promote this disease is removed and considered harmful. Lena can't wait until her procedure in just over three months. Her mother was incurable and chose to kill herself after her husband died instead of enduring the procedure again and again to rid herself of the love she feels. Lena feels she is always under scrutiny because of her mother's choices and wants to be just like everyone else. Everyone her age undergoes an evaluation to match you with a partner to get married and have children. On the day of her evaluation, Invalids, people who want to live with love, release cows into the building and she catches a glimpse of an attractive boy who laughs at the situation. He is cured, so it's safe to be around him, but Lena starts to change as she spends time with him. Is she falling in love so close to her procedure? Is she turning out just like her mother? Does she even care anymore?

The restrictive, dystopian world that Lauren Olver creates in Delirium just draws me in. I love dystopian fiction in general and I felt that it was influenced by some of my favorite works as Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1984 by George Orwell, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, and the films Gattaca and Equilibrium. There were elements from all of these and more and I think it would be a good introduction for teens to dystopian fiction because it focuses more on the romance between the two teens. The concept is really what interested me in the first place. Love viewed as a disease flies in the face of pretty much everything I believe in. I do wish that there was more of a history attached to it. For something so drastic to happen, there had to be a reason, like nuclear war. I would also liked to have seen how the rest of the world is faring since the US closed its borders and if any other country has prescribed to their type of thinking. Maybe we will learn more about it in the next books in the trilogy, but I'm satisfied to wait for now.

One of the most intriguing things to me was the excerpts of the various bits of propaganda that appeared above each chapter header. Their condemnation of everything love related extended to all literature that was allowed to the citizens. The Bible and their fairy tales were infused and slanted with propaganda to brainwash the citizens from youth. Other familiar works of literature are made to mean completely different than we've experienced. For example, Romeo and Juliet is still mandatory reading in high school, but it's presented as a cautionary tale of the dangers of love. The Telltale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe is now a didactic work about the consequences of civil disobedience. Every society does this type of thing, admittedly more subtly, to one extent or another. Even the Brothers Grimm changed the fairy tales they compiled to suit their Protestant and bourgeoisie sensibilities. I found this to be the thing that drew me in the most because I see it happening every day. On a side note, I really hate the name of the Book if Shhh, that is referenced many times as a big source of propaganda. I think it's ridiculous.

I liked and related to Lena. She wasn't the most kickass heroine ever, but she was no delicate flower either. Her transformation from robotic automaton to love-addled rebel was believable, partly because her mother expressed her love for her children from a very young age. I think Lena really didn't ever feel comfortable in the restrictive society and the change back to how she felt when she was younger wasn't a huge stretch of the imagination. At the beginning, she was very sheltered and actually kind of boring, but once she embraced the deliria, her personality and inner fire really shined through.

I really enjoyed reading Delirium. There were a few parts in the novel that felt like there were holes and maybe a little less believable that her family wouldn't notice that she was doing forbidden things when the evidence was pretty obvious. However, the writing was excellent and the proved to be merely minor annoyances within a stellar story. The ending of the novel was powerful and I can't wait to read the next in the series.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

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