Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: February 1, 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Description from Amazon:
Lena Haloway is content in her safe, government-managed society. She feels (mostly) relaxed about the future in which her husband and career will be decided, and looks forward to turning 18, when she’ll be cured of deliria, a.k.a. love. She tries not to think about her mother’s suicide (her last words to Lena were a forbidden “I love you”) or the supposed “Invalid” community made up of the uncured just beyond her Portland, Maine, border. There’s no real point—she believes her government knows how to best protect its people, and should do so at any cost. But 95 days before her cure, Lena meets Alex, a confident and mysterious young man who makes her heart flutter and her skin turn red-hot. As their romance blossoms, Lena begins to doubt the intentions of those in power, and fears that her world will turn gray should she submit to the procedure. In this powerful and beautifully written novel, Lauren Oliver, the bestselling author of Before I Fall, throws readers into a tightly controlled society where options don’t exist, and shows not only the lengths one will go for a chance at freedom, but also the true meaning of sacrifice.
"It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure. Everyone else in my family has had the procedure already. My older sister, Rachel, has been disease-free for nine years now. She's been safe from love for so long, she says she can't even remember its symptoms. I'm scheduled to have my procedure in exactly ninety-five days, on September 3rd. My birthday."- Opening from DELIRIUM.
This novel is set in the future where the government has declared love a disease, known as deliria. In order to control the disease everyone gets "the cure" at age 18, basically a laser guided lobotomy to make you forget about feelings, fears and other things that may make you want to rebel against authority. Strictly enforced by regulators, everyone has to have the procedure and then live the life the government has planned for you, from your job to your spouse to the number of children you will have.
This is the world where Lena Haloway lives. She is weeks away from high school graduation and her 18th birthday, when she will be "cured". Her past harbors a dark secret: when Lena was eight years old her mother committed suicide because she was infected with love. Despite three attempts at a cure, none worked and she was left to suffer all the emotions associated with the disease. Lena's memories of her mother include laughter, gleeful dancing and her whispers of "I love you," something unheard of in their world. As she prepares herself for the cure she begins to notice the world around her. She notices how calm and serene those who have been cured seem. In fact they are robotic people, void of emotion and who mindlessly follow what the government tells them to do. Then she meets Alex who introduces her to an underground world where people believe that love is not a disease and that the cure should be avoided at all cost. She learns how they live in the world beyond the restricted borders of her town.
Lena begins to question everything she has been told about the disease of love, especially when she begins to fall for Alex. We follow her awakening to the feelings of love and to her realization that her mother was not crazy, just a woman in love. We follow her journey as she learns more about her mother and tries to escape the mandated cure.
I found this to be a terrible premise that could happen in a society where people do not have the ability to question authority. It would be so easy for a government to control people who feel no joy, love or pain. And I think there are leaders in the world who would welcome having this type of control.
The book is beautifully written and a joy to read. It made me think about how emotions can alter your perception of the world and how different the world would be without love. Lena's journey and her discovery of love reminded me of those early feelings of love one discovers during the teen years. A sample of the wonderful prose is found when Lena realizes she is falling in love:
"I know what the problem is, of course. The disorientation, the distraction, the difficulty focusing - all Phase One signs of deliria. But I don't care. If pneumonia felt this good I'd stand out in the snow in winter with bare feet and no coat, or march into the hospital and kiss pneumonia patients." (p.237).
The book stayed with me for days after I finished it, thinking about Lena's heartbreaking and painful journey to discover herself. In fact, the more I thought about it, the better the story became and I came to appreciate the deep inner meaning of the book. I was sorry to see the story end, but pleased to learn that there is a sequel in the works. I can't wait to find out what happens next for Lena.
An outstanding, thought provoking read, don't miss this one