For my first book of 2013 I chose Delirium by Lauren Oliver. The story takes place in an alt-present reality, and poses the question: “What if love was considered a disease?” This is the question Lena Holoway struggles with as the date for her procedure quickly arrives.
Every U.S. citizen has to be “cured” by this horrible disease (love) by the time they turn 18 years old. Once they do, they are considered fit for marriage and children. The summer before Lena turns 18 years old something happens to her that changes her life forever – she falls in love. Now that she’s infected with this disease Lena discovers things aren’t what they seemed. This causes her to wonder, is life worth living without love?
The synopsis according to Goodreads:
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 government 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.
When I began this book I must confess I found Lena very irritating. She was very naive about things I didn’t feel someone who lives in the society Oliver describes would be. For some reason, the character didn’t ring true. After about 100 pages or so, I began to see how sheltered Lena was, and how blindly she followed the doctrine her society enforced on its people. Once Lena meets Alex, the story began to take shape.
I found him to be the more interesting character, and was more interested in his back story than hers. I don’t know if I felt this way because I knew this was the first book in a series, or not, but the book did feel like it was being set up for a sequel. I think it’s great if an author has a story mapped out over the course of several books. I just prefer if they don’t make me, as a reader, feel like that’s what they’re doing. In my opinion it seems to push the climax father back towards the end of the book, instead of in the middle. This allows only part of the resolution to take pace in the final chapters, while the rest gets petered out over the course of the series. This isn’t a bad thing in a book with more action, but if all you’re describing are walks on the beach, and forbidden trysts, it tends to make the story drag. Overall I found the book enjoyable. In fact, once things began to pick up I found the book hard to put down, and the ending made me pick up the second book right away just so I could see what happens next.