Portland, Maine. The indeterminate future. It's been sixty-four years since love was identified as a disease, forty-three since a cure was developed. Now the cure is mandatory; all citizens must undergo the procedure (which sounds, from the sketchy descriptions, like a lobotomy of sorts) when they reach the age of eighteen. The United States is isolated from the rest of the world (it's not clear whether the cure is being taken advantage of elsewhere) and the inhabited areas within the States are all surrounded by electrified fences, outside of which are wild areas, inhabited by the uncured, who are called invalids.
Lena, just three months shy of her eighteenth birthday, longs for the cure. She's always felt different; her mother, who suffered the procedure three times but was never cured, threw herself from a bridge when Lena was a child. All Lena wants is to fit in, to be told what career she will have and who she will marry, to feel like everyone else...not to feel anything at all, really.
Then Lena meets a boy. Alex is a little older and a lot worldlier, with golden hair and rippling muscles. Oh yeah, he's smart and funny, too. They fall in love.
Although Delirium--the first installment in a trilogy (because don't YA dystopians always come in trilogies?)--starts off awkwardly and at first feels overly familiar, when author Lauren Oliver finds her pace she really takes off. Lena is a believable teen, whose agonies of personal awkwardness and not fitting in--which felt all-too-familiar to this erstwhile awkward teen--are compounded by living in a society in which feelings are literally cut out of one before she even truly reaches maturity. The reader is swept up by Lena's see-sawing emotions, and the revelation that hits at the climax of the book is as shocking and painful to us as it is to her.
Delirium ends on such a strong note that I wished Oliver's editor would have had her rework the first fifty pages or so a bit before sending it off to the printer. Either way, the cliffhanger ending left me gasping for breath and anticipating the next installment.
2 months ago