Book Review · Science Fiction/ Dystopia · YA Fiction

Delirium by Lauren Oliver: Book Review

bookcover_home_deliriumThey didn’t understand that once love — the deliria — blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

So, love- excuse me, amor deliria nervosa- is a disease now. In a distant future, America has deemed love a disease, throwing the blame of all problems onto love. Borders around the country are closed off, protecting the citizens of the country from the infected savages on the other side of the fence, the Wilds. Once citizens reach 18, a procedure is done to cure you of the disease. Before the surgery, the citizen goes through an evaluation in where your future pair- husband or wife- is chosen for you. Lena Haloway can’t wait for the procedure. Lena’s an orphan, she lives with her aunt and uncle’s family. Her father died of cancer when she was a child. Her mother couldn’t be cured; she underwent the procedure three times before she decided to commit suicide. She doesn’t want to be like her mother, weakened by the delira.

Lena and her best friend, Hana Tate, go to the evaluations together. Hana isn’t like Lena. She doesn’t believe in the cure. She goes out to coed parties, listens to illegal music- basically everything the country doesn’t want an underage to do. Anyway, during Lena’s evaluation there’s an interruption. Cows- yes, cows- storm the evaluation room. Everyone starts freaking out, obviously. Lena sees a boy above on an observation deck laughing at the scene below him. Lena is terrified- this boy must be part of the resistance, must live in the Wilds, must be uncured! She opens her mouth to scream, but is caught off guard when he winks an her. Winks?

Lena and Hana love running. Whenever they have free time they go for a run. This time, they take a new route and end up in the back of the evaluations building. Hana convinces Lena to go with her inside. And who do they see? Mysterious, observation deck, wink boy. He introduces himself as Alex, a guard at the facility. Wait- so he’s not an invalid? He’s cured? Interesting. Lena calls him out, but he denies it all while dropping hints that he remembers her the whole time. That night, Hana tells Lena to go with her to an illegal party. She denies, believing everything that the government says is true, and that coed parties are hubs for the deliria. But curiosity gets the better of her and she sneaks out of her house for the first time ever to see what the fuss is about. And who does she see at the party? Alex. *surprise* He tells her that he never had the procedure done, that he was never cured- the records just show that he is. He’s part of the resistance, his real home in the Wilds.

Anyway, Alex shows Lena things about the country, about the Wilds, about the deliria, that no average citizen of the country knows. Lena Haloway, with only weeks left for the procedure she was eagerly anticipating, falls in love.

I actually read the entire series, just finished it two days ago. This book was really unique. It tackled the subject of love in a way you never hear before. Love is always described as the first flower in spring, the hot chocolate in the winter, sweaters in fall, and an iced lemonade in the summer. Love is always described as the butterflies in your stomach and the permanent smile in your soul. Love is never described as something foul and dirty. In Delirium, Oliver describes love as a disease- complete with symptoms and side-effects. The scary part is- some of what she wrote about love are true. Of course, things are exaggerated. But some aspects were so true it was frightening:

“Symptoms of Amor Deliria Nervosa

-preoccupation; difficulty focusing
-dry mouth
-perspiration, sweaty palms
-fits of dizziness and disorientation
-reduced mental awareness; racing thoughts; impaired reasoning skills

-periods of euphoria; hysterical laughter and heightened energy
-periods of despair; lethargy
-changes in appetite; rapid weight loss or weight gain
-fixation; loss of other interests
-compromised reasoning skills; distortion of reality
-disruption of sleep patterns; insomnia or constant fatigue
-obsessive thoughts and actions
-paranoia; insecurity

-difficulty breathing
-pain in the chest, throat or stomach
-complete breakdown of rational faculties; erratic behavior; violent thoughts and fantasies; hallucinations and delusions

-emotional or physical paralysis (partial or total)

If you fear that you or someone you know may have contracted deliria, please call the emergency line toll-free at 1-800-PREVENT to discuss immediate intake and treatment.”

That was creepy. Try to tell me that some of that didn’t hit you hard.

I loved loved loved this series (oh, the irony). Although the ending of the last book made me want to throw my kindle on a wall, I still loved it. So, I’ll end this with my favorite three quotes from the book.

“You know you can’t be happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes, right?”
“I’ve never been comfortable with my body like Hana and some of the other girls at St. Anne’s, never gotten over the awkward feeling that I’ve been fitted together just a little wrong in some very key places. Like I’ve been sketched by an amateur artist: If you don’t look too closely, it’s all right, but start focusing and all the smudges and mistakes become really obvious.”
“But I don’t care. If pneumonia felt this good I’d stand out in the snow in the winter with bare feet and no coat on, or march into the hospital and kiss pneumonia patients.”


Last review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner


Next book: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I can’t believe I didn’t read this one yet. I’m anticipating it so bad. It’s optioned for TV and I can’t wait!!

Until next time! ✨


6 thoughts on “Delirium by Lauren Oliver: Book Review

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