There are no spoilers in this review.
I discovered Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series a long time ago, around the time it was first released. It was in 2011, so a gazillion years ago in a bookworm’s life. Yet it was always a series that stayed with me and, as I found myself re-reading it this summer while eagerly waiting for my new books to arrive in the mail, I found out that I am still in love with it. There aren’t many books that hit you straight in the heart, the books you remember reading sitting on the couch, while tears fall down your face. Delirium, and the whole series, is this kind of book so I thought that today was time I introduced, or re-introduced you to this series I found a bit too underrated.
A STUNNING AND IMAGINATIVE WORLD
“Hearts are fragile things. That’s why you have to be so careful.”
The Delirium series has that very same recipe all dystopian series seem to use. A quite messed-up world, yet one that seems in perfect order, until something happens. Something changes, the world shatters and everything isn’t just as perfect as it seems to be. There is a change of heart, there is a rebellion, slowly growing in the main characters’ heart, turning into a bigger scale rebellion to change the whole world and the whole system. It doesn’t come in handy, which is why these kind of books often come in packs. But it comes. In the very end, I won’t spoil anything but we all know these kind of books always try and end up with happy endings, or at least are tainted with the hope we never expected to see at the beginning of the story.
While picking up Delirium, there might be a little sense of deja-vu here, but I’m hoping that no one will let that stop them from picking up the book. The world-building is one of the strongest suits of it all. Set in a world where love, and feelings overall, are considered as the root of all the issues, this deliria is eradicated by a simple procedure around the age of 18, really, a brain operation that represses all kind of feelings of love, and all of the kind of feelings related to this. The society is well-ordered, everyone is happy. Except…
“You can’t be happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes”.”
Yet, Lena falls in love. Terrified to follow in the footsteps of her mother, who killed herself because of the deliria, terrified of the future, she will found out that this perfect world isn’t so perfect after all and that love is so much more than a “disease”.
I’m not going to be spoiling the whole series for you, I just wanted to give you a gist and to obviously make you want to pick this up. From the first page, I was hooked by the story, the world-building, impressively detailed without info-dumping. With every page and event, you see its complexity, its details, you see it grow and shape around you and the characters. At the beginning of each chapter, you get a little bit more of the world thanks to excerpts from the big book of rules in this world, poems, stories, legends, everything that makes up the world what is is.
THREE DIMENSIONAL, WELL-DEVELOPED AND GROWING CHARACTERS
“Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That’s what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side.”
In this kind of book – and series, there is a risk that the world-building takes too much of the place, leaving the characters aside. Following Lena through the three books, I can safely say that’s not the case. From the afraid, obedient girl, Lena grows and change, not because and for the one she falls in love with, but within herself, who she is and what she wants to be. This is not a story where the love interest changes the main protagonist, or at least I didn’t see it this way. In the series, Lena grows, changes, opens her eyes thanks to Alex, the guys she meets in the first book, but also thanks to her best friend, Hana ; thanks to her own self and her own desires and mind, shaping constantly and changing as events are unfolding.
From the first to the third book in the trilogy, I can safely say that Lena isn’t the same girl. She has gone through a stunning kind of growth, which I loved. From the rule-follower to the rebel, from the girl scared to speak up to the one heading straight towards danger without a single second’s hesitation. Obviously, Lena wasn’t a perfect character. She was flawed, she was annoying, there were times where her thoughts blurred and her decisions weren’t perfect. Yet, she felt real, three dimensional and I could deeply root for her and try and understand her.
“And there it is: Even though we’re standing in the same patch of sun-drenched pavement, we might as well be a hundred thousand miles apart.”
The other characters in this series are all three-dimensional and developing, changing as things go on: the throwbacks between past and present in the second book and the multiple POV in the third helping us figuring out all of the pieces together.
Fast-paced and action-filled, Delirium is a series I flew by in the matter of days in this re-read, hooked like the very first time. Lauren Oliver’s writing is poetic, getting to the point and yet painting you a vivid picture of an interesting, unique world. It’s and will remain one of my favorite series, one I would recommend to dystopian lovers for sure.
“I love you. Remember. They cannot take it”
Final rating: It’s a hurricane!
Do you want to read Delirium? Did you read and enjoy it? Why, or why not? Share your thoughts in comments!
Lauren Oliver, Delirium, Published by HarperCollins, February 3rd, 2011.
In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn’t about to make the same mistake.
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the “Wilds” who lives under the government’s radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?