Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

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.

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she’s actually that old. When she’s not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.


  1. Rachel @ Bookshelf Lust says:

    Delirium was definitely beautifully written, but it just never worked for me. The info dumps, Lena's boring personality, and the endless descriptions of…things not really relevant to the story killed it for me. It took me longer to read than any book has in years. You bring up a lot of good points though. And I'm very interested in the love outlawing, and family back stories. I will probably give book #2 a chance before I totally write off the series. : )

  2. I never read Lauren Oliver's first book, BEFORE I FALL, but I was surprised at how totally beautiful her writing style is.

  3. I just read Before I Fall and loved it! Haven't been able to get hold of Delirium yet, but i'm going to hear Lauren Oliver speak next week!

  4. I so loved this book! After the ending I couldn't sleep from the adrenaline rush at the end. I agree with you the beginning wasn't as exciting, but I connected to Lena pretty fast, so it didn't bother me so much.
    I'd love to learn more about the history of banning love as well. Now we only have to wait a year to find out what'll happen next..

  5. bibliophile brouhaha says:

    I didn't care for the beginning. First 100 pages, I was like, "Ehhhhhh. . ." Then right after that it started getting good, and I was, "AhhhhhhHHHHHHHH!!!" SO glad you ended up liking it, too. Looking forward to book #2!

  6. That's a gorgeous cover.

  7. Flippin' Fabulous says:

    I have to agree. I just finished this and got my review written out and scheduled to post. The first bit of this book I wasn't understanding the hype. Lena, she lacked really. I get why now. I got why, before I read on as well. I just wasn't seeing what others claimed they saw. And then I did and it was all over. No more putting the book down. I was carrying it while walking. I can NOT wait for book #2. But can I just say the ending made me cry? Fabulous review, you really caught the essence of the book.

  8. Glad to hear you loved it! I've seen tons of hype, but have also heard that it doesn't live up to it. But, I loved Before I Fall, so I had to buy Delirium! 🙂

    I'm definitely excited to read it, and I love your review!

  9. I think I felt the same way in terms of The Hype Monster (great term for it) but like you, the writing and the ending definitely won me over!

  10. Jasmine (The Reading Housewives) says:

    I totally thought the same thing about it being slower in the beginning…I was like "Uh oh!", but then all of a sudden I was sucked in! I can't wait to read the sequel even though it isn't going to be out for AGES! (lol Hype Monster)

  11. I've seen a couple reviews of this book and maintained a lack of interest. You've turned me. Thanks. :p

  12. Ah yes, the Hype Monster…I've learned the hard way to not take the hype too seriously. I haven't read Delirium but I like this balanced review.

  13. Kelly F. says:

    So I'm about 250 pages into this book right now, and I completely agree with you about the beginning being boring, and not feeling a connection with Lena. It's taking me a long time to get through this one, and I want to read it to the end. It just reminds me of other books I've read like the Specials series, and I'm trying my hardest to keep with it. I'm glad to hear it got better for you, and I think I'm to the point where action starts picking up. I can't wait to see what will happen and if it changes my opinion like it did yours.

  14. Library Gal says:

    Love this review….honest and beautifully stated

  15. Midnyte Reader says:

    I really need to give these books a try. Thanks for your thoughts.

  16. Jessica (Firefly Book Loft) says:

    It has been months since I have read this book and the ending is something that I still think about often. Delirium has just really stuck with me.
    That was a fantastic review. I'm glad you ended up liking it.
    How are we ever going to wait until next year for the second one?!

  17. I love Lena and Alex! And the ending, wow, I agree it was so emotionally intense. I had to re-read it a few times just so it would sink in and I could start breathing again. It was really breathtaking. I'm glad to hear your enjoyed it, minus the world building part. I had issues with that part of the book too. I can't wait to read what happens next!

  18. Michelle says:

    I loved this one! Agreed that the world-building wasn't high end but for me that wasn't the most important part of the book. The concept and plot were what I ended up focussing on most. Like you I thought it was beautifully written and I'm anxious to see what happens next.

  19. Ha I totally agree with the hype monster thing, I really really dislike being disappointed by a book while thinking I wouldn't have expected so much if I hadn't heard such great things about it before!
    Delirium has just been released where I live, and I can't wait to get my hand on it (even if I'm quite afraid of the hype monster too!!)

  20. I was really skeptical about this book going on, but Lauren Oliver completely won me over. I agree with your gripe about world building, but then again I almost always feel that way with YA dystopian novels! Hopefully we'll find out more in the next book.

  21. That's going *in*, not going on. LOL!

  22. I loved this book, I thought the prose was beautiful and I really connected with Lena. I liked how some of the world-building was done through quotes at the beginnings of chapters; but like you, I'm eager to see more. Hopefully, Pandemonium will give us a bigger picture of what the world is like. This was a great read, that had me in tears at the end.

    Thanks for the thorough review 😀


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  2. […] series: I really enjoyed Delirium by Lauren Oliver. I wasn’t sold at first but I warmed up to it and then devoured. Pandemonium made nearly […]

  3. […] May Also Like: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Delirium by Lauren […]

  4. […] HarperTeen March 2013 Genre: Dystopian YA Series: Yes. It is the last book in the series — Delirium is book 1 and Pandemonium is book 2. Other Books From Author: Before I Fall, Liesel & Po, The […]

  5. […] really like Lauren Oliver’s writing and enjoyed (ehh okay minus Requiem) her Delirium series! It’s a standalone, sounds incredibly intriguing and some of my friends have said good things […]