January 29, 2013
Lauren Oliver's Delirium felt very familiar, by which I suppose I mean that it carries with it echoes of the many other dystopic novels that I've read in recent years: a literally fenced-in community, being specifically matched with a future mate, obvious censorship or re-interpretation of key literary works. But this society, unlike the other dystopias, has found a way to cure its citizens. Of love.
You never get any true particulars, except that it's quite literally brain surgery. And the whole point is to excise powerful emotions, basically, because they are a disease. Love, in particular, as something that people once literally lived for...is considered an infection.
Nobody touches. Nobody really expresses affection. And our protagonist, Lena, lives with her aunt because her mother killed herself.
But then Lena comes to realize her best friend, Hana, questions the society more than they should. And then Lena finds herself in circumstances where she too questions. Of course it involves love, because doesn't it always?
I suppose that if that sounds a little cynical, it's because quite a lot of that is the most stereotypical part of this novel in terms of young love and the excitement and dangerousness of it, and how it becomes the end-all and be-all. It shows up in almost all of these kinds of books, and I personally find it a little hard to swallow without gagging a little unless it's extraordinarily well done and...lacking in a certain amount of sappiness.
That said, there's at least one twist that I semi-hoped for at the beginning of the book that didn't get realized until closer to the end, which leaves me with hope for the sequel.