#5 “Delirium” by Lauren Oliver


1.  Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
2. Holiday in Cambodia – Laura Jean McKay
3. Only Human – Gareth Roberts
4. Beautiful Chaos – Gary Russell
5. The Silent Stars – Dan Abnett
6. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
7. Every Breath – Ellie Marney
8. Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
9. Delirium – Lauren Oliver
10. Pandemonium – Lauren Oliver
11. Requiem – Lauren Oliver
12. Venom – Fiona Paul
13. Belladonna – Fiona Paul
14. A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki

I have to take a book with me everywhere I go. Every handbag I buy has to be big enough to be able to hold the biggest book in my library (anything from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon). If, at any point, I have not chucked a book in my bag, I always seem to be stuck in some situation where a book was needed. So when I packed for my holiday to Phuket I had to bring a book with me. No, scratch that. Three books with me. You know, for the plane rides, trying to get to sleep, and on days where the weather doesn’t want to play fair and gives you torrential rain instead of beachy sunshine. Like today. So I decided to finally tackle the Delirium trilogy.

I found Delirium on GoodReads while I was playing around and trying to impress cyberspace with the number of books I’ve read. The storyline sounded incredible, so I figured I should read the reviews. And as I write this, I have two bleating at me from my memory.

The first one was a woman griping about grammar. She has a legitimate complaint. Lauren Oliver uses the word “literally” in one of the metaphors she uses to describe her male lead, Alex. And this is a huge no-no. No one’s eyes can “literally” dance with fire. They’d be dead. But unlike my GoodReads associate, I managed to pick up and move on.

The second review berated Oliver’s choice of narrator, describing her as weak. I have to wholeheartedly disagree. In a world where love is seen as a disease and the inhabitants have been brainwashed to believe that “Ex rememdium salus” (From the cure, salvation), I think Lena is a perfect narrator. She has been brought up thinking that the cure for “amor deliria nervosa” is the only way to lead a happy life. And after her mother committed suicide rather than be subjected to her fourth treatment for the disease, Lena looks forward to having that pain of her past taken away. Which is perfectly understandable  I think. And because she has such faith in the cure, you see her friendship with her rebellious friend Hana suffer and a friendship with her new “cured” friend Alex bloom before it’s revealed that [SPOILER] Alex is actually a rebel and the triangular scar on his neck  isn’t from the procedure for the cure, but is actually just made from a knife so he can move between the rebel camps beyond the fence and Lena’s world. You see Lena struggle with this revelation and slowly come around to being able to be with Alex, the catalyst for this is an heroic act on Alex’s part. This change in Lena also allows a way for Lena to see her world for what it truly is and she changes and changes until she, too, becomes a “sympathiser”. And through all this she knows she’s contracted “deliria”. But she doesn’t care. It’s all so delicious.

As I read Oliver’s story with the second review honking at me the whole time, I wondered whether Hana would have been a more acceptable narrator. A girl that has everything this loveless world could possibly offer and yet she still seeks the Wilds. Just before their aborted procedure date in the beginning of the novel you get a glimpse into Hana’s character when she says

“You can’t really be happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes. You know that, right?”

And I thought that we were being told that Hana had been a sympathiser all along and that was when I was thinking “can we get inside her head? Please?”. But as Lena gets bolder, Hana gets more timid and we see that Hana is just acting out to feel like she’s a little bit in control. Just like every single rich kid in every single other storyline where the rich kid does something that diverges from their parents’ wishes. Don’t get me wrong, I like Hana, she’s more than just a stock character, but Lena was definitely the right choice for narrator. I won’t question Oliver again.

What I love most about the premise of this series is the legitimacy it is gives to teenage love stories. Everyone goes in for the procedure at eighteen. So before that, if teenagers are struck down with “deliria”, the relationships are more intense. Because of that, when they tell stories about people jumping off buildings rather than being “cured”; or about people running away to the Wilds (the rebel camps), knowing they most likely will be shot in the attempt; or simply telling each other in the darkest nights that they will be together forever; these tidbits are easier to swalloe. It’s the one folly of YA fiction: teenage love is intense but rarely lasts forever and the authors always insist on eternal love. The only other time I have seen YA love done in such a convincing way is in Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter universe. Clary’s mother actually explains to Clary/the reader in, I’m pretty sure, City of Glass that because Shadowhunters tend to die young, they get married young. And boom! There’s an explanation that I can live with. So because Lena is scheduled for her procedure, we see Lena and Alex’s relationship become more and more intense the closer Lena comes to her procedure date. And you can take into stride everything that happens between the two of them because of it.

Another tiny, genius detail in Oliver’s speculated future is that, at some point, science and religion combine to create a super religion. So all of the science currently being ignored by the fanatic religious horde becomes ingrained into their belief system. (Sorry if I offended anyone but I’m Catholic and I believe in evolution. It’s irrefutable). And it’s just a little metaphor for the cure that sneaks in: the majority of the people in Oliver’s world have such blind faith in the cure that it just starts to have religious overtones. And the fact that Oliver combines science and religion into an overarching belief system is representative of the state of the world, I think. Whether you take it as blind faith in the government or science or religion or something else entirely is up to you. But I think Oliver has very cleverly snuck in her commentary about society so that we’re not even aware she’s done it. So multiple kudos, Lauren Oliver.

So when push comes to shove and I add everything together, I give Delirium

★★ ★★

I had to take a star off for grammar. Not only should Oliver know better but what the hell was her editor thinking?

But if any of you are really interested in Hana’s character, or just like to know as much about a world as you possibly can, Oliver wrote an eBook with Hana as the narrator. I think it sits in between Delirium and Pandemonium. You can find it here. If you love Lauren Oliver like I do, or you just need to know everything about a world that you’ve read about, you should buy this eBook. Yes, I am recommending an eBook. So you probably should pay attention. And at less than $3, it’s not much of a sacrifice to make to get to know a secondary character.


About Bec Graham

Bec Graham, 24, was born on the wrong continent. Everything from her burns-like-paper skin tone to her inability to cope with the slightest hint of a hot day suggests she should have been born under the gloomy skies and mild sun of the UK. She hopes writing will get her to her rightful home one day. Failing that, she scans the skies for a spinning blue police box, hoping to catch a lift back to the motherland.
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11 Responses to #5 “Delirium” by Lauren Oliver

  1. I’m so glad that you liked this book! I am with you on the teenage love thing. Lauren and Cassie have created teenage love stories that I think work well. I haven’t read the ebook on Hana, or any of the other novella’s because I blew through the whole series in like a week and then didn’t want to go back and read things that took place prior to Requiem. But, if you are itching to see a Hana POV, just push on through Pandemonium and into Requiem, because we get an every-other chapter POV switch between Hana and Lena 🙂

    • Bec Graham says:

      Me too! I do love Lauren Oliver. Have you read “Before I Fall”? It is absolutely brilliant. Such an awesome premise, if you haven’t read it. And good ol’ Cassie Clare. I love her. And Will Herondale is the most deliciously wonderful character I have ever read. I may have been kept up at night after “Clockwork Prince”…

      Thanks for the tip! I think I will definitely do that. I’m glad Hana comes back. At the moment it seems like Hana got cured. So even if that’s true, it’d be interesting to see inside a cured’s POV. Can’t wait to see what happens next. I have two flights tomorrow so there is a perfect excuse to curl up and drown out the turbulence!

      • Reading on planes is my favorite. I just put in headphones and drown everyone out.

        Also, I am convinced that Will Herondale is my soulmate. Can you be soulmates with a fictional character? Nevermind, I don’t even care. Than man is just perfection.

        “Before I Fall” is on my TBR list. I didn’t know she had written anything prior to Delirium, but when I finished the series a couple bloggers recommended “Before I Fall”!

      • Bec Graham says:

        I’m convinced that travel medicine was invented purely so people can read in transit. It’s the perfect opportunity!

        And Will is pure male perfection. I think we may have to fight to the death over him, though. That’s the only fair way to decide 🙂 Jem is awesome too! But…Will is just so…Will.

        And definitely try “Before I Fall” as soon as you can. You won’t regret it!

      • I got a girl I work with started into TID, and she is about halfway through Clockwork Prince. She is currently sitting across the room from me going on about how she loves Will, but loves Jem, but loves Will…. but then Jem! I love watching people read these books 🙂

      • Bec Graham says:

        I had the BEST experience with that! A friend of mine from uni had Clockwork Angel sitting on her shelf for two years before I mentioned it. I bugged her and bugged her to read it, knowing she would absolutely love it. When she finally did read it, she finished it, then the next two books in just over a week. Whenever she’d message me about how much she loves the series, I’d just reply: “well, you should never have doubted me!”. She went back and forth between Jem and Will as well. It’s so hard and yet so easy to say which one of them is your favourite! Currently trying to get her to read Vampire Academy. It’s like deja vu.

      • Concerting people to a series is the best feeling ever.

        Also, I haven’t read Vampire Academy either
        *hides out of shame from the book blogging community*

      • Bec Graham says:

        Bahaha. We will forgive you! It’s an awesome series. Vampires are vampires. No sparkling, no animal blood, but there are good vampires and bad vampires. Richelle Mead is kind of brilliant. You should definitely give it a go. There’s even a spin-off series called Bloodlines. Well worth the read 🙂

      • I do tend to shy away from the vampire thing, but so many bloggers rave about Vampire Academy! I guess I will succumb to the pressure eventually 🙂

      • Bec Graham says:

        I totally understand. After Twilight I am very sceptical of vampires, but Mead’s world is incredibly detailed and, well, the vampires still drink human blood. They’re still proper vampires haha

  2. Pingback: “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green | My Infernal Imagination

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