An Ordinary World

books, blabberings, and a life semi-common

Love is Nothing… Or Is It?


We hear the phrase above in different ways every now and then.

Don’t believe in love.

Love will only cause heartache.

True love doesn’t really exist.

Is that true, though? It can’t be, not when there is proof of love shining in couples and families and friendships and relationships across the globe. But in Lauren Oliver’s DELIRIUM, love really is a disease, and it’s the government’s prerogative to make sure no one is further inflicted.

Amor Deliria Nervosa, it’s called, and Lena is about to undergo a procedure that will stop her from contracting the deadly virus.

“It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure. Everyone else in my family has had the procedure already. My older sister, Rachel, has been disease-free for nine years now. She’s been safe from love for so long, she says she can’t even remember its symptoms. I’m scheduled to have my procedure in exactly ninety-five days, on September 3rd. My birthday.”

This type of society is all that Lena knows and so she goes along with it despite seeing the changes it has wrought in her family and in her friends. Along with her best friend, Lena soon begins to think of what could happen without a cure. Would it be so wrong?

DELIRIUM truly makes one sit up and take notice. With a world today rife with separations and divorce, anger and fighting, it’s not so easy to completely dismiss the world Oliver creates. Helping with that frame of mind are the excerpts from a government handbook that begin some chapters; other chapters also begin with quotes that pertain to the book.

“…The discovery of the procedure to cure deliria is typically credited to Cormac T. Holmes, a neuroscientist who was a member of the initial Consortium of New Scientists and one of the first disciples of the New Religion, which teaches the Holy Trinity of God, Science, and Order.”

Oliver’s writing is beautiful and flawless. Just as she did in her first novel, BEFORE I FALL, she manages to write such detailed descriptions of what is happening that a step back is sometimes needed to remember that it’s fiction and not a dissertation of the world today. Problem upon problem is stacked upon each other but there all flow together and some (not all) find resolutions before the end of the novel.

The first time I read this, I didn’t know it was the beginning of a series. While I’m glad it will be continued, I still believe the finale of DELIRIUM is one that could have stood alone. Many people would disagree but how many forbidden romances end without a concrete resolution?

Also, like many types of love, DELIRIUM is a slow burn of a book, a careful unfolding of plot that may not be right for everyone. Personally, I thought it worked brilliantly. While there is the obvious fact that Lena will turn against her society (after all, what could really be written if she forced herself to believe what she’s been told?), I think the build-up of her thoughts and emotions really drives forth the ideas that this world isn’t easy. The questions that arise, the answers that don’t come, the potential romances – everything is told slowly and carefully and the reader is left to feel the uncertainty and confusion along with Lena.

I would recommend DELIRIUM to everyone. I read it on a six-hour flight across the country and I would read it again.


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