Monday, 22 July 2013

Delirium - Lauren Oliver

 A Spoiler Free Bit About the Book
'Delirium' is a teenage fiction dystopian novel not at all different in idea to the last book I read and reviewed, 'The Killables'  by Gemma Malley.  It is set in Portland in the future where love - or armor deliria nervosa - is a disease and everyone is cured at the age of eighteen making them safe from the effects of the deliria.  They are matched with someone and live their lives as governed by the rules without fear of the disease ruining them or the deliria-free society they live in.
The novel follows Lena, a girl three or so months away from her procedure and she cannot wait.  We follow Lena on what I want to call a journey of discovery as she realises not everything is as black and white as she's been taught.  We watch Lena grow throughout the novel as we go with her to discover the secrets about the deliria and other aspects of the dystopian society.
My Review
I'm just going to state it from the off:  I loved this book!  It was incredible.  If I hadn't had so much on my plate for the last couple of weeks it would've been finished in a day.  This was one of those books you pick up and don't put down again until you've turned the final page, looking around for more.  I was on the last few pages of this book and I needed to get in the car to go on a charity walk or we were going to be late.  So I carried the book around with me as I got ready to leave, not putting it down for any reason or any man.  When I closed the front door to get in the car, the book was done and I was left in shock.  All I could think about on the car journey was the final thought of the novel and the final image I was left with.
I think the reason I connected with this novel so much was that I liked the main character.  If you've read my previous review you'll know how important that is for me as a reader.  Not only did I like her and cared about what happened to her, I also believed she was real and sympathised with her throughout.  A lot of novels I've read have characters like this but then it gets ruined when the characters make bad decisions that I would never make.  Well, I really do want to congratulate Lauren Oliver on this because I didn't think any of Lena's decisions were stupid or unreasonable.  Also, Lena wasn't exceptional and I loved that.  She wasn't the prettiest or the smartest or the most popular or athletic.  She was just a normal human seventeen-year-old girl and that was so refreshing.  She didn't have anything that made her stand out and I could relate to that because no one in real life is superhuman.
Not only did Lena's narrative capture my heart but I also loved the other characters.  Lena's best friend Hana was just as believable as Lena was and made me think of my relationship with my best friend as their relationship was crafted so well.  Lena's family, both the sweet and the irritating characters, were also just right, no one too cliché or over exaggerated.  Reading this, I was in awe of Lauren Oliver's character development as I realised somewhere along the way that I cared about every person I was supposed to, even minor characters, and hated those with a passion that I was supposed to.  Like I said, I connected with this book.
Enough of gushing over the characters, I left out one in particular so I didn't dribble over my laptop.  Of course there's a love interest.  Anyway, I'm not going to talk about him in fear of droning on and becoming a super mega fan girl.
So instead I'll talk to you about the idea of the future.  'Delirium' was similar to 'The Killables' in that something is taken out of your brain, in this case love, in 'The Killables' it's evil.  In both novels it has the same effect - a peaceful, happier society.  This idea of a future without love was mind bending.  Everyone just lives without love and is happy for it.  It gets you thinking about all the crazy things that people do for love and that maybe it's not a crazy idea after all.  Of course I'm not saying to take love away in this society - love makes the world go round.  What I'm saying is, it's not a completely ridiculous idea.
Like the characters, the whole world of 'Delirium' was believable.  I was reading it and thinking that it could happen.  To be honest with you, the whole of the book is realistic.  Everything.  There's not one farfetched moment where you stop reading, role your eyes, sigh and carry on.  The fast paced bits took my breath away and were still believable which is another feat I congratulate Oliver on.  The characters' plans weren't ridiculous but achievable and also the big finale at the end of the novel may not be what you expect but for me it was better.  I was sitting there reading, thinking that I didn't care how stupid the ending was going to be as long as everything turned out alright.  Oliver must be a strong woman to not go for the easy option and instead to keep everything as realistic and believable as in the rest of the novel.  I was not disappointed with the outcome which did shock me a little in places, I must admit.  The genius of a lot of writing is when you don't see those little things coming.
Another thing that surprised me was that for the first time in a long time, my breath was taken away by description.  I love books with minimum description and hate those with long passages that seem to never end.  'Delirium' surprised me because I just had this perfect image of everything in my head without even noticing that I'd been reading description.  Also, the images just fit together in my head without me having to put any effort in to visualise.  I don't think I've ever come across a book that must have had lots of description along the way but I never noticed it.  It was just what I'd ask for.  I have to say, the description was also beautiful.  My boyfriend will tell you that I looked up from this book many times just to tell him how beautiful I thought the writing was - not that he appreciates that sort of thing.
Something small to finish up: the use of the word "delicious".  It was used a lot during the course of the novel but I think the only reason I noticed it was because I loved its use so much.  I've heard "delicious" used in other contexts other than food before of course, but in 'Delirium' it was only used to describe truly amazing places or feelings and it made me feel delicious also.  I must use that word in my latest novel and learn from the master, Lauren Oliver.
Plot Idea - 9/10 - I must give it the same as 'The Killables' for a very similar plot idea.
Way Plot Was Pursued - 9/10 - I loved the way we counted down with Lena to the day of her procedure and that pieces of plot all came together without me even noticing.
Characters - 10/10 - loved them all the entire way through.  So worthy of the first 10 I've given.
Style - 9/10 - even description wasn't a problem for me.  It felt like a character driven novel.  At the beginning of each chapter there is an excerpt from a book or a song or something from the future world 'Delirium' is set in which just thrusts you further into the world.  (This also makes me wonder just how much Oliver thought into this novel and how long it took her to research).  The reason it is not a 10 is because there was just one too many adverbs for my liking.
Pace - 8/10 - the pace was good and steady throughout and quickened when it needed to.  Perhaps others may find it slow to start and I would understand if anyone were to say this.
Would I recommend it? - to all those who love love stories, in a heartbeat.  The same goes for lovers of dystopian novels.  To be honest, there aren't many people I wouldn't recommend this to. Yes, yes, yes.
Would I look up the author? - Yes, have already done so.  Lauren Oliver's other teenage fiction novels are on my Amazon wish list and I can't wait to read them.
All in all, 'Delirium' was a phenomenal novel that I enjoyed so much I couldn't put it down.  It was so good it replaces 'Eve and Adam' as my favourite book of  2013 so far (and I really did love 'Eve and Adam').  'Delirium' is the greatest love story of the year by a mile and this year I finished 'The Wolves of Mercy Falls' trilogy.
If you've read 'Delirium' I'd be delighted to hear what you thought of it.  I love my book chat.
Molly Looby
Author / Editor / Ghost Writer / Writing Coach
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