Review: Delirium

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (author of Before I Fall) will be released in hard cover and eBook formats on February 1, 2011.

Goodreads description:

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.

Magdalena “Lena” Haloway Tiddle exists in a future where on your eighteenth birthday you have a procedure that will cure you from contracting the disease amor deliria nervosa – “the deadliest of all deadly things.”

Although most people are cured when they turn eighteen, the disease can still get you before then and so every precaution is taken. There are guarded borders protecting the cured and soon-to-be-cured from the Wilds where the Invalids, those who refused the cure, exist. Conversation is monitored. Physical contact is rarely permitted. Interaction between two uncured individual of the opposite sex is not allowed. Raids are conducted to ensure adherence to the rules.

But none of these protections are infallible. The disease can infect you beforehand and the cure doesn’t always work. Lena has been anxiously awaiting the day when she too will be cured and will no longer be at risk for infection. She had witnessed the effects of the disease on both her mother and sister and the shame it brought to her and the rest of her family.

All she wants is to just make it through the next ninety-five days until her procedure, so she can receive her match whom she will marry upon finishing college and spend the rest of her life safe and normal. But ninety-five days is a long time, and when something goes wrong on her evaluation day it will turn her world around and make Lena question everything she’s ever believed in and everything she’s ever wanted.


Delirium is the stunning first book in a new series by Lauren Oliver about a dystopian society in which love is considered a disease that threatens safety and stability and the only hope to stop the infection is to undergo the cure – a procedure administered at age eighteen.

Delirium has such sophistication, eloquence and beauty in the writing that it rivals novels like White Oleander aimed at an adult audience. The story is hypnotic and you will get caught up and lost in the fluidity of the words and the breathtaking imagery.

This is not a quick or light read and there is not a lot of dialogue in this book. There are many ideas that need to be absorbed, but nothing that feels extraneous. Every word and every idea has meaning. Even the book’s concept alone is fascinating – just taking love out of the equation could make for a more peaceful society.

Lauren Oliver is an insanely good writer with an extraordinary imagination. There is such a level of detail put into this story, from the passages that introduce each chapter, to all the elements that had to be included to look at this “problem” from all angles, to taking the character from acceptance of society to her disdain for it.

Ms. Oliver did not create a cute story with characters that were instantly lovable going on wacky adventures. Throughout there is an undercurrent of bleakness and desolation. While this is a story of a futuristic fictional society, the ideas were very real and were well thought out and expressed.

There are simply no words to describe how amazing and powerful this story is. No words.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=6] – and yes that’s 6. Like In-N-Out Burger‘s infamous secret menu this one deserves my off-the-menu 6 star rating.

On a personal note:

Delirium has to be the best written young adult book I think I’ve ever read. (And I’ve read a lot of YA books.)

It has taken me a few days to write this review because after reading the book I was left speechless and a bit daunted at writing a review for such a stellar book. Perhaps if I was a writer even one-one-hundredth as talented as Lauren Oliver I could have come up with something brilliant. Alas…

I am not an avid reader of books set in futuristic dystopian societies. In this genre I’ve only read Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series and maybe a Stephen King or two. I haven’t even read the Hunger Games books. (Shame on me.) But, as I had recently read Before I Fall I knew that I loved Lauren Oliver’s writing style and the dark and heartbreaking ending of that story, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read this one.

I don’t know what it is about her writing, but I just keep getting drawn further and further into the story, even when I know there may not be a happy ending and even when I know I might just be devastated at the end. Perhaps it’s passages like these:

Everything else—every single second of every single day that has come before this very moment, this kiss—has meant nothing.

I know that life isn’t life if you just float through it. I know that the whole point—the only point—is to find the things that matter, and hold on to them, and fight for them, and refuse to let them go.

If I wrote down all the unbelievably awesome and memorable sections from this book I’d practically be posting the whole story here and that is a definite no-no, what with copyright infringement and all.

This is an emphatic “must read” with Kleenex at the ready.

To read an excerpt from HarperTeen click here.

Pandemonium, book two in the series will be released in 2012 and Requiem, the third book in the series is slated for 2013.

Thank you HarperTeen and NetGalley for the review copy.

Author Lauren Oliver talks about Delirium:

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