DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver

HarperCollins 2011

DeliriumCover(I finished reading this on Christmas day. There is nothing that puts you in the mood for holiday cheer like a good dystopian government and their endless barbaric rules. Tra la la la la, la la la la.)

Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy is not your usual YA Dystopian Romance story set in the distant future. This Dystopian Romance is set in an alternate present (Slang and landmarks found in current day Portland, Maine are referenced and fit with the times). Circumstances have occurred sometime in our past that led the government to forbid love. Now this emotion is thought of as a disease that has caused all the suffering people have felt through the ages (umm…wait a minute. They might have a point there).

In this story poetry is banned and Romeo & Juliet is thought of as a cautionary tale. Regulators walk the streets to see if others might be holding hands or laughing to loud. Boys and girls are kept apart to save them from the crippling disease. Everyone is waiting until their eighteenth birthday so that they can be cured.

The cure for love is a medical procedure akin to a lobotomy. After you have it, you don’t care about anything. You move through your life one day at a time. You are neither happy or sad. Nor sympathetic or appreciative. You are just there. Existing.

The only emotion any cured people ever seem to express is fear and anger. The fear comes in the form of worrying about whether the regulators are going to accuse them of something. Punishment is swift and harsh. Anger is evident when an uncured or a sympathizer breaks the rules. The cured get vicious when they are trying to squelch love.

There were plenty of things to love about this book (see….they can’t stop me, just don’t tell any regulators). First, I love Lauren Oliver’s writing. It is like poetry in its elegance and style. She uses excellent descriptive words and really makes you see what she is describing. Plus there is symbolism for freedom all over the place in this story: the book of shhh, cows, birds, fences and running just to name a few.

Second, I love Lena our protagonist. She is a troubled girl who lost her mother to love. For her the cure is a way to save herself from the fate her mother endured. She works so hard not to have emotions. Lena just counts down the days until she can stop worrying. She thinks her life will begin once she is cured.

Third, I love Alex. He is the required romantic interest in a story about saving/destroying love. This boy is an outsider who is passing himself off as a cured person. His story and the depths he goes to let Lena do what is right for her moved me.

This is the first of a trilogy with other mini stories added to the mix. You can read more about Lauren Oliver, her books and follow her blog at

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