Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Ninety-five days, and all will be well.  Lena will have had her procedure, and any trace of the disease, amor deliria nervosa, will be in the past.  She will have a new life with whatever man she is matched with, and she will be free of pain, of agony, of loss, of sorrow.  She will be free of love, a terrible word that drags people into the depths of their own sickness.

She will be free.

Then, Alex.  The boy from the labs.  He has the mark of the procedure, but he's different, somehow.  And he knows Lena...has seen her before and wants to be friends.

She doesn't know why she says yes to his invitation to meet him.  But she does.

After, nothing is the same.


My thoughts -
Delirium shook me to the core.
No, really, my hands were shaking and my breathing was coming fast.

But first, I must rewind to the beginning.  At the beginning, within the first ten pages, my jaw dropped.  This is quality literature, I told myself, sucking in those pages without delay.  The writing.  The characters.
The atmosphere.
Picture yourself sitting, surrounded by the white halls of a hospital.  Everything smells clean, sterile, and you can't help but notice the faint echo, as though life, real life, is outside the walls that surround you.  Everything looks shiny.  Everything is bright.  You have a headache.  You've had tests done, and now you are waiting.  Waiting for the verdict.  Waiting for someone, someone in draped in more white, to come and tell you your future.  Will you live, or will you die?  Your fate rests in his hands.  The verdict that will change your life forever is about to be revealed to you.

Well, this is what the beginning of this book reminded me of.  The waiting, the endless waiting, as though your whole life is just a waiting game.  What else is there but what's in front of you?

While reading the first fifty pages or so, I was, in fact, reminded of the color of this book's cover.  That light turqoise, like a piece of the ocean.  But flat and sterile, like in a hospital.
And then, as the story progressed (while I continued to drop my jaw in amazement at the beauty of it), I realized that every scene is defined by a color.  The party was black, with bright neon of blues, pinks, and oranges.  The picnic was golden, like a piece of sunshine.  The star scene was navy blue.  And throughout every scene, the color turqoise was laced, as though reminding me of the impending danger of the procedure.

When I had forty pages left, I sat down and finished the story.  My hands shook and I could barely turn the page.  I was amazed, pained, scared for what would happen...  And then - the end.  Oh....I cried.  Actually, I sobbed.  And I don't throw that word around lightly.  There are some books that cause me to shed a few tears, but only a few, a rare few (Sapphique, Inkspell, Jane Eyre, Uncle Tom's Cabin, the three books of the Circle Trilogy, and The Silent Boy, to be specific), cause me to lose it completely.  This, my friends, joins that list, my crying list, my epic list.

And, mind you, this is coming from the perspective of someone who didn't want to read this book.  I wasn't sure about it.  I'd heard a lot of good and some bad, and I still didn't have a good feeling about it.  Well, I was wrong.  Like, really really really wrong...

Character notes -
Immediately, I cared for Lena.  I felt the pain she felt, and I wanted to help her, or at least see her happy.  To see her free of the lies of her society.  I wanted to comfort her about her mother and be the best friend she needs.  She seemed strong to me, despite the sadness she felt.  All she needed to do was realize it was all a lie.  Only then could she break free.

And she needed someone special to help her with that.  Someone who would pull her out of her own troubles and show her the world around her for what it truly is - a beautiful world, full of deceived and deceiving people.  That person took shape in Alex.
Alex seemed...different.  Right from the start.  Not only does he stand out in that strange world, but he stands out in literature, too.  He's not your typical boyfriend, either.  When Lena needs someone strong, he is strong.  When she needs someone kind, he is kind.  He always protects her.  He loves her genuinely and selflessly, always thinking of her first, what she loves and wants to do.  When Lena begins to fall into a self-pity craze, he's tough with her, but only because he wants her to see the truth - because he loves her.  I cannot tell you how stinking impressed I am with his character.  The amount of selflessness and care and respect and beauty put into the love he has for Lena surprised me.  I was not prepared for this quality of a love story.  I have a feeling that my opinion of many love stories I read in the future will be colored by this one, just because it was so incredibly amazing to me.
I also love that Alex is the color of autumn.  At least, that's what he reminds Lena of, and it's stuck in my brain now, too.  His hair is the color of autumn leaves.  His eyes are the color of amber.  He's just warm and...wonderful.  Like, really truly wonderful.  Quality.

Story notes -
This is something else that surprised me: the perfect smoothness of the story.  Like, it was incredibly smooth.  There were times when I felt the pace could have gone out of whack - but nope!!  It went smooth, like Lauren Oliver has never done anything else in her life except write smooth stories.  And the story itself... Twists and turns and creepy Crypts and love.  Lots of love.  It's powerful.  NOT your easy, light read that you can put down and say, "Yay that was happy, now let's move on!"  When I finished it (during my good, long cry), I had to think.  In fact, I don't exactly want to pick up a book right now because I just want to let this one rest a bit on my mind before I dive into another story.

One word/phrase to sum up this book (and final thoughts) -
There are quite a few words that come to mind when I think of Delirium... Powerful, colorful, LOVELY, quality, coherent...flipping amazing!  But I really think the best word (actually, phrase) to describe it is breath-takingly beautiful.  When I reached the end of the book, I kind of did lose my breath.  There's so much going on, so much to learn about these characters and experience in this deceived world.  And there's so much love.  So, so much, that it got me thinking about my life.  My loves.  How do I love those around me?  How can I take advantage of this freedom?  And the choices I have...it's amazing compared to the world of Delirium.  This, I take advantage of too much.  What better choices can I make in the future?  Really, this was quite a life-changing, thought-provoking book for me.  I hope everyone will give this book a shot - literature as quality as this deserves a majorly huge spotlight. :)

For the parents:   Some brief strong language.  (F**k, b**ch, d**n, s**t...)  A short scene (less than a page long) where Alex sees Lena without a shirt on (it's implied without a bra as well), and he tells her she is beautiful.  They don't have sex but they kiss a lot.  Not super descriptive.


  1. Andrea @ Book StalkersJuly 13, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    Great review! I love that you have a section for parents, I know a few who are very worried about what their children read. I've been wanting to read Delirium for a while, but it's just sitting there on my shelf. Will read it next month, though!

  2. Thanks Andrea!  Well, definitely pass along my blog if they ever need a clean recommendation!  There's also a blog called Clean Teen Fiction that I love! :)

    I really really really HOPE you love this book!! :D  It's amazing! :D

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. I really liked your review. I didn't read Delirium , but after some good opinions , including yours , I think I should buy and read it.

  4. Nice review! I love love love this cover. and then description and this book sounds amazingly good. I am so proud to say this if officially on my to read list :D