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Lauren Oliver – Delirium

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The only thing worse than love or hate is indifference.

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 393
Type: Fiction
Age: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-0-340-98091-0
First Published: 1st February 2011
Date Reviewed: 1st April 2011
Rating: 5/5

Lena has grown up in a world where love is treated as a disease and everyone must undergo a procedure around 18 years of age in order to eradicate it. She’s been looking forward to becoming an adult for a long time. Then she meets Alex.

Whereas Before I Fall was a very good book exploring social relationships and the mind, Delirium is a brilliant book that takes it one step further.

It may appear to you at first glance, as it did to me, that the love discussed in the book is romantic love. It is, but it’s also every other kind of love out there. Therefore a constant wish of Lena’s is that her family members might hug her like they used to before they had their procedures. The procedure basically means that people don’t care anymore, children could hurt themselves but their parents wouldn’t bat an eyelid other than to soak up any blood for purely hygienic reasons. This is what makes Delirium so difficult to read. The government says that getting rid of love stops pain, but of course for the children it causes it, having to live with parents who aren’t much better than zombies.

It is a horrific thing to think about, a world without love, but it takes Oliver’s careful and deep examination to really show us what such a world would be like and how important love truly is. Without any affection, any feelings, the minor characters simply go about spouting rules and often have trouble trying to think of what to say to a family member. Without any affection the people in charge have no problems bludgeoning resisters to death.

A world without fear. Impossible.

Lena’s development obviously rests on her discovery that all the things she’s been taught are lies. The catalyst here is the introduction of Alex, an outsider, the boy she falls in love with. When he tells her there are no rules, meaning to their race across the sand but the subtext being about his own outsider life, Oliver clearly means it as an early sign to her heroine.

Something that’s interesting is the amount of hatred shown by the governmental groups. One can’t help wondering why they didn’t get rid of hate as well – but maybe that’s the point because as Oliver shows, hate leads to fear and thus control. The government workers can threaten, can kill, indiscriminately. The perfect world is not really perfect at all.

I found Delirium to be as much a dystopian tale as a parable for today. We are given so many rules and things such as CCTV that we’re told are for our protection, but are they really? Don’t they just allow people to spy on us and find out everything, things they shouldn’t really know? In addition to this I found a connection between the way outsiders and resisters are treated and how, until recently and even still sometimes today, mental health patients are treated.

That’s the irony of it. She’s looking at me like I’m the crazy one, the dangerous one. Meanwhile the guy downstairs […] is the savior.

The love is forbidden, a great love story set in the future. It’s well written and delved into without ever being too much or unbelievable. The hero himself is the backup to Oliver’s statements.

Delirium demonstrates just how much we value love in this world, and shows how everything we do would change if it did not exist, would change in ways we might not have thought of. Not only is it a brilliant book, it’s a valuable lesson.

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May 11, 2011, 9:04 pm

I really liked this one, and I’m glad to see you liked it too. I have to admit that I was sceptical about all the praise for Before I Fall, it was such a hype. But then, I was pleasantly surprised by Delirium. And now I really want to read Before I Fall.

Btw, I saw you changed your lay out. (I know, I know, I haven’t been around lately). And I have to say, I love it!

Charlie: I was put off by the hype too, but yes, Before I Fall is fantastic, though totally different to Delirium.

Thanks :) We’re both students caught up in the summer madness, reading blogs come second :)

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