[Sci Fi Month] Series Reflection: Delirium (Lauren Oliver)




They say that the cure for love will make me happy and safe forever. And I’ve always believed them.

Until now.

Now everything has changed. Now, I’d rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years suffocated by a lie.

There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it.

Then, at last, they found the cure.


Series stats

Author: Lauren Oliver
Number of books: 3 (4 novellas also available)
Total number of pages (novellas not included): 1216


Opening line:

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.


Status on my shelves:

I own books one and two of this series but don’t yet own a copy of Requiem since I borrowed a library copy.


Why I picked this series up:

In all honesty, I picked this up in ASDA not long after it was released just because it was cheap and I was looking for something new to read.  The blurb drew me in and there was no way I could leave without buying it!


Why I liked it:

In a similar vein to Scott Westerfeld’s twist on beauty, Lauren Oliver has taken love and given it a dramatic twist!  In this futuristic tale set in Portland, love has been identified as a disease, and a cure identified.  At the age of eighteen, everyone is given the cure, matched to their future profession and partner.  The concept that love, something pretty much everyone we know today wants, is a disease, reviled and banned, is so intriguing and unique.

As always, one of the biggest drivers for me is the cast of characters that Oliver has created.  I’ve never been able to really love a series without at least likeable characters, and Delirium is no exception!  There are three characters we see most throughout Delirium: Lena, Hana and Alex.  Lena, the main character, has been following the rules, counting down until the day of her cure.  She’s never really doubted the need for a cure, or questioned whether she wants one.  Hana, Lena’s best friend, is the more outspoken, visibly passionate character.  Intrigued by talk of the Wilds, and the possibility of life without a cure, Hana occasionally makes Lena think about things that makes her feel uncomfortable, bending the rules beyond Lena’s comfort zone.  Although occasionally frustrating, they are believable three-dimensional characters who grow and develop really well throughout the series.

Despite their differences, Lena and Hana are best friends.  They go running together, they hang out discussing their future job or match possibilities and they support each other.   Alex, a mysterious dark eyed boy, skews Hana and Lena’s carefully balanced lives.  Drawn to him despite the rules and warnings she’s been listening to all her life, Lena must decide how she really feels about the society she lives in, and the disease they call amor deliria nervosa.

Lauren Oliver’s her emotional, thought-provoking writing kept me glued right the way through this series.  The quotes from government documentation on amor deliria nervosa are fantastic, simultaneously baffling and yet oddly believable.  Although the idea of love being illegal sounds absurd at first, the idea makes a lot of sense in the way that Lauren Oliver has portrayed it.  Heartbreak over the end of a relationship, pain over the loss of a family member; all fixed with the cure at eighteen. Life, pain free.  The problem with that of course, is that without the lows, you never appreciate the highs, and so the story really comes down to that simple choice: are the ups are worth getting through the downs, or is a safe, steady life of no pain better?

The series isn’t perfect, and one of my biggest limitations with it was the world building – although I can completely believe the world that Lena lives in, I’d have liked to see more about how that society formed. How did they completely reverse opinion regarding love?  I also felt that for a story about love, the romance let the story down at times.  It’s pretty much impossible to say more on the topic without spoilers!

One more thing:

It’s very hard to comment on this without spoilers, but there’s a love triangle in this series.  For me personally, that triangle just didn’t work.  I think that’s mostly because I had a long gap between Delirium and Pandemonium, which meant the latter love interest was fresher in my mind, and I spent a lot of the series very strongly biased towards one side of the triangle.  I’m not much of a love triangle fan anyways, but I especially don’t want to feel like I love one of the options and hate the other because that leaves me frustrated however it’s resolved!  Either she’ll choose the guy I like (in which case I feel like there was no competition, so why even have a love triangle?!) or she’ll choose the other guy/pick neither (in which case I feel like the girl made the wrong choice).

7 thoughts on “[Sci Fi Month] Series Reflection: Delirium (Lauren Oliver)

  1. I’ve heard a lot about this series but haven’t had the chance to read it yet. The idea sounds really interesting so maybe I’ll add it to my TBR pile. Thanks for the review! 🙂

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