I have been on a roll with the YA fiction novels, I'm tellin' you. I still need to review the Hunger Games trilogy, and then I'll move on to the Emily Giffin books I've picked up lately as well. I'm 12 books into my 2011 Reading Challenge... only 38 more to go! ;)
"Love" is a word that is not allowed to leave the lips of the citizens of the US in Lauren Oliver's Delirium. Love and desire are thought to be a disease, and every person in the country must go through the "procedure" in order to be "cured" from the illness. Girls & boys are separated and not allowed to socialize until they're cured, and schools are even segregated in order to prevent the spread of the disease throughout the community. In a world without heartbreak, without pain, and without worry, nothing could possibly go wrong.
All her life, Lena Holoway has looked forward to being cured. Ever since her mother committed suicide when she was infected with the deliria, she's been terrified that she is somehow genetically imbalanced and more likely to end up with the disease. The disease hits your heart first, and then slowly deteriorates the rest of your body as you fall deeper and deeper into the madness.
Lena is a normal teenage girl who hangs out with her best friend, Hana, and is constantly studying for her evaluations, in which she'll be paired with her future mate. She's counting down the days until her procedure, and then the worst thing possible (in her mind) happens... she falls in love.
Ironically, I felt so much love for this book that I'm genuinely distraught by the fact that I have to wait until February for the second book to be released.
This book was everything I wanted it to be - it was definitely young-adult material in terms of content, but it wasn't the whiny, emotional, love triangle/internal struggle type of YA reading, which was well received by me, for sure.
The concept was unbelievable and Oliver obviously spent about a bajillion hours cultivating ideas to make it seem so real and possible... this world that drills into the minds (figuratively AND literally) of the people to make them afraid of love. They are so scared of catching the "disease" that will cause insanity. There are harsh punishments, including death, for those that stray from the strict rules of this society. Romeo & Juliet is a "cautionary tale" which teaches students a lesson... that to fall in love is to ultimately kill yourself. Any interaction with the opposite sex before you're cured could cause the contraction of the deliria and must be avoided at all costs.
All the characters were extremely well developed, and seemed more mature than the main characters of most YA fiction... Lena especially. Her relationships with the people around her were clear and well laid out - from her irritability with her snobby cousin Jenny, to her envy of her beautiful and seemingly perfect best friend Hana. And from her indifference towards her uncle, with whom she lives, to her undeniable curiosity and affection with Alex, the mysterious boy that she falls in love with.
One of the aspects that I loved about Delirium is the amount of actual activity going on. Of course, you have your beginning where you get all your background information, but most of the necessary filler information was spread throughout the book, which I really appreciated. I hate opening a book and having to struggle through the first few chapters to get a good grasp for the story. This book dove right into the action, and I loved every bit of it. There are a lot of major (and interesting, obviously) events that occur throughout the book, which made it incredibly easy to keep reading, and I found myself really battling to put the book down at night, causing me to stay up way past my bed time numerous evenings.
Needless to say, I loved this book. It was an incredibly strong read, with exceptional characters and a well developed plot. Oh, and a giant surprise at the end. February 2012 cannot come soon enough!