Short But Sweet Summary: In the future, love is considered a deadly disease and must be controlled. A cure has been developed and a procedure is mandated to all upon high school graduation. Lena has been counting down the days until she can be cured…until she allows herself to become infected with this deliria and has the inability to see things the way they once were.
This was one of my most anticipated books for 2011 and I started feeling a wee bit nervous as glowing reviews started coming out. I could feel the Hype Monster breathing down my neck so I didn’t pick it up right away. I try not to let myself to be swept away too much into the hype of a book and keep myself grounded while I begin to read it. I want to allow myself to experience the book without the echos of its proclaimed greatness weighing heavily on my mind.
I’m going to be honest here — in the beginning of this book I was feeling like the Hype Monster had struck again. I was finding myself bored with Lena and not really connecting with her. I was feeling like I didn’t want to be in her head anymore and that she was just falling real flat for me. I also was growing a little bit weary from predicting everything that was going to happen and from a whole slew of info about the world that didn’t even satisfy my curiosity.
I found myself completely and utterly immersed in Oliver’s prose and even feeling invested wholly in Lena’s life and her growth without even knowing it. It’s that feeling you get when you’ve been in the ocean for a while and you begin to walk out to return to your spot on the beach…only to realize you’ve drifted a half a mile down the beach without even realizing it…(and if you are anything like me…you end up walking aimlessly and awkwardly trying to find your towel). This is how I felt. Oliver’s flowing and beautiful prose became a current that ever so slightly tugged at my being until I found myself so swept up in the story without even realizing it…awestruck and completely enthralled by the beauty and profundity of these words. The predictability lessened for me as Oliver delivered some twists that left my mouth gaping open wide enough to catch flies. I grew to feel fond of Lena, despite the fact that there still seemed to be nothing particularly stand-out about her.
The ending. Oh the ending. Let’s just say the waterworks were comparable to my experience reading If I Stay. What a cliffhanger of an ending and a hell of a last paragraph. Strong and haunted me all night as I contemplated Lena some more. The idea of love as a disease was chilling the more I thought about it. Love is one of those abstract ideas that you never really seem to be able to peg down but the absence and loss of it is oppressive. It’s complex, it’s beautiful, it can hurt like hell…but it is altogether a human experience. I think Oliver painted that picture so well…the characters languidly shuffling through life…deprived of the ability to really feel something. I remember rolling my eyes a little bit at the “insta-love” that seemed to be building between Lena and Alex based on nothing that I could see. But then I thought about it..and it made quite a bit of sense to me based on the fact that for the first time in her life she let herself really feel something.
My only gripe with the book that stayed put was the world-building. I wanted more. I did. I’m selfish and I wanted to really understand more of the history of HOW love suddenly was declared a disease and some of the finer details. I wasn’t always totally sold on the world based on what I had to work with but I’m hoping that perhaps more of this will be addressed in the next book.
My final thought: Delirium is one of those beautifully written books that will captivate you with its emotional intensity and leave you reeling until the final pages. I can’t say it is devoid of flaws — namely the world building and the clunky start for me– but I found myself unable to stop thinking about this book after reading it. I cannot wait to find out what lies ahead for this new and strong Lena. I can’t even begin to imagine what Oliver has up her sleeves but I know this for sure–it’s going to contain more dazzling prose…because that just seems to be how Oliver rolls.