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Delirium by Lauren Oliver


by Lauren Oliver

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Delirium (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,3864261,603 (3.95)140
  1. 162
    Matched by Ally Condie (foggidawn)
  2. 131
    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Kerian)
  3. 110
    Divergent by Veronica Roth (BeckyJG)
  4. 80
    Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (Kerian, BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: In these intense dystopian novels, teenage girls start to question the life-changing operation their oppressive government mandates for teens. Both girls redefine their values and grapple with the possibility of escaping to a rebellious colony in the wilderness.… (more)
  5. 60
    Wither by Lauren DeStefano (BeckyJG)
  6. 40
    Across the Universe by Beth Revis (kaledrina)
  7. 10
    Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky (Kritik)
    Kritik: Dystopia
  8. 10
    Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (keeneam)
  9. 00
    Die Verratenen by Ursula Poznanski (Camaho)
  10. 00
    Girl Parts by John M. Cusick (kaledrina)
  11. 22
    Bumped by Megan McCafferty (kaledrina)
  12. 01
    A Very Private Life by Michael Frayn (atreic)
    atreic: Both these books have a teenage protagonist who breaks out of her distopian existance because they suddenly fall in love...

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Yet another YA dystopian trilogy I’ve been hearing a lot of about, delirium comes with quite a unique premise: the USA has declared love a disease and created a “cure” that everyone over the age of 18 is required to receive. Predictably, the book involves two young people who haven’t had the “cure” falling in love. The hype about this series has been around for a while, and I believe the last book in the trilogy comes out pretty soon, so I figure now is a good time to tackle it.



In a totalitarian USA where love is a disease that needs to be “cured,” seventeen year-old Lena is impatiently awaiting her turn to be stripped of the ability to feel passion. Plagued by the suicide of her mother (who apparently couldn’t be cured despite several attempts), Lena spends her entire life wanting nothing more than to be “safe” from love. Until she falls in love with Alex, a member of some sort of resistance force who was born in the Wilds (the areas outside the fenced-in cities that no one can leave without permission).

-Cue 200 pages of Alex and Lena’s growing relationship-

In the last fourth of the book, Lena discovers her mother did not commit suicide but was imprisoned for years until she escaped sometime recently. Riding off this revelation, Lena is (predictably) caught and put under house arrest (as in, tied to her bed) for becoming “infected” with love, but before she can be “cured,” she escapes with Alex to the fence. She gets over the fence to freedom, but Alex stays behind and gets brutally attacked, and we see him no more because he told Lena to run. And she does.

The end.

My Take

The shortness of my plot summary should tell you a lot about my feelings on this book. It was boring. It was 400 pages (paperback) of almost nothing of significance with a short burst of action at the end. Maybe others are more interested in the long-winded development of Alex and Lena’s incredibly convenient relationship, but I was not. I honestly skimmed about two hundred pages of this book, only stopping to fully read the few moments of actual plot I came across.

Alex is the first “real boy” Lena actually meets. So of course she must fall in love with him. Her only other interaction with men (thanks to some sort of sex segregation laws to prevent “love”) are with some nose-picking gross guy who works at the same store she does and a few other insignificant people. This means, naturally, that Lena must fall madly in love with the first good-looking nice guy she ever talks to. The convenience of their relationship annoyed me the entire time.

In addition, when Lena is matched and set to marry (by the government, sort of like in the Matched trilogy) with “Brian Scharff,” he ends up being this sickly boring guy with fifty allergies. I had the funniest feeling that all the men Lena was forced to interact with were purposefully made awful so that Alex would seem like a “dream.” It came off as completely contrived, especially when considering the whole “evaluation” the kids had to go through to get matched.

Lena scored an 8 and gets stuck with Brian Scharff. Her “more beautiful and perfect” friend Hana could only have scored one or two points higher (the evaluation is out of 10), and yet Hana gets matched with the rich mayor’s son. What? Two points is the difference between boring allergy guy who wants to be an electrician and super rich privileged boy? What happens to girls who gets a 2 or a 3? Do they get matched with homeless people?

Again, all this incredibly convenient “bad stuff” happens to Lena to make her life seem like it can only be good if she runs off with Alex. Ugh.

I was honestly far more interested in learning about how the US devolved into a totalitarian state where rights can be suspended at any moment and no one is allowed to leave their cities. I was also interested in discovering whether love was legitimately considered a disease or whether it was a ploy to strip people of their passion and motivation. We did not find either of these things out, of course.

We get a few glimpses of the brutality of the country, the best being the party raid scene where the standard totalitarian police force people beat the crap out of innocent partying kids and send dogs after them. But other than that, we just see Lena’s dreadfully slow acceptance of the fact that the country she lives in isn’t actually out to help her and how she eventually decides to (again, predictably) run away with Alex.

I’ve heard that the sequel, pandemonium has a more exciting plot. (I can only hope.) But, like with Matched, this book felt a lot a lead in. We had to see Lena’s slow, painful realization about the true state of the world around her, and only at the end has she developed enough to do anything. Not that we see her do anything. She’s still running away at the end.




Lauren Oliver knows how to write. That much is clear. Her prose is beautiful. Her sentence structure is spectacular. Her character voice is great. I think few people will dispute that Oliver is a great writer in many respects. My main issue, obviously, lies with her plot here, as I’ve been ranting about for several paragraphs. I think if Oliver had cut this book in half and sped things up a bit, it would have made for a much better story. There are too many places filled with pages of introspection and repetition of already-covered ideas. There are too many scenes that don’t progress the plot. There’s just…too much. Too many words, not enough plot points.


Is it Worth Reading?

If you don’t bore easily. If you do, I’d suggest you skim through it to get to pandemonium, which is apparently where stuff actually happens. (I’ll confirm that in a couple days.)



( )
  ClaraCoulson | Nov 16, 2015 |
When I closed this book I just stared at it for a minute. Just stared at it before I hurriedly opened Twitter and immediately said (excuse my would be language) "WTF?". I mean, I read 'Before I Fall' and it had the same effect on me, a little bit stronger because I balled my eyes out like a baby but still...this was also a very powerful ending. I guess I should start at the beginning before I go to the end but...whatever.

So, basically in Lena's word Love is considered a disease. The whole world walks around feeling almost nothing because of a government 'cure'. I would have loved to know more about what the cure is or supposed to be, that was very mysterious and odd. Lena is ok in the beginning but I think her character wakes up more when she meets Alex. I felt by Alex and Lena meeting and falling in love the whole dynamic of both characters changed and they were better characters for being together. So, Alex, he is dreamy, mysterious, and definitely the kind of guy to get you into trouble. Definitely.

I enjoyed this book, I didn't feel an urgent need to finish and keep going until the end of the book, I just read a bit each day and then put it down and then read some more the next day. When I got to the end I had to know what going to happen. I was sad, shocked, surprised, and outraged all at the same time because of this ending. Ms. Oliver takes no prisoners when it comes to her endings and you will see it here. ( )
  mojo09226 | Nov 12, 2015 |
I wish I would have waited until the entire series was out, because I'm literally biting my nails waiting to find out what happens next! I stayed up late two nights to finish this book because I could not put it down. The premise of the book is that love is a fatal disease that must be eradicated. Children are segregated until they turn 18, at which point they get "the cure" (sounds like a lobotomy) and are matched up with a partner and told how many children to have. Lena, who considers herself plain, was excited to get the cure and be paired up until she meets Alex, who changes everything for her. I don't even know what to say about it... It's well-written, very powerful, yet so realistic (strange to say about a dystopian novel!) and compelling. Oliver creates not only a dystopian not-too-distant future, she creates a history for this society through textbooks and pamphlets, which we get a quote from at the beginning of each chapter. It's interesting to see how elements from our society are twisted in the new world, where love is considered a disease.

Originally read March 15, 2011.

"Love, the deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't. But that isn't it, exactly. … Love: It will kill you and save you, both." I'm getting ready to read the second book of the series and needed to refresh my memory. It's been a year and a half since I read it originally, but it was almost like a new book, which I mean in the best way. I kind of remembered the story and how it ended, but reading it was just like it was new. Oliver's language and word choice are perfect. Everything is so beautiful and suspenseful without the reader really realizing it. She has a unique way of describing love of all kinds.

Re-read September 13, 2012. ( )
  howifeelaboutbooks | Nov 4, 2015 |
Decent read. Sometimes it got a little fluffy in Lena's descriptions of her thoughts, feelings, and events, but overall I liked it. ( )
  kirako | Oct 16, 2015 |
I'm on the fence with this one. I really liked it at the best of times and really wanted to throw it -- figuratively speaking, since I had a copy from netgalley -- at worst. Despite the fact that the premise was fresh and interesting, there was quite a bit of predicitability within the story, even with me having went into it with very limited knowledge.

I liked the writing. I thought the story had good pacing. I was intrigued throughout. The characters were somewhat bland, but I imagine that's due to the fact that they are essentially without emotion; so it's understandable. Everything on a technical level was good, but I had some trouble connecting with the story.

My main obstacle was getting into a headspace where I could believe this world were possible. I'm not sure if the fault lies with me or if the author was unable to color this world in a vivid enough way that I could picture it clearly. I could see it in my head, but I couldn't really grasp it or understand how it happened.

The thing with ""dystopian"" novels for me is that I have to be able to see how we got from point A (the present) to point B (the future) and in this book, I couldn't really make those connections.

Would I read the sequels? Definitely. There were a lot fo elements to the story that I did really like, even when some things eluded me. Would I recommend this book? Most likely.

3.5 /5 ( )
  rawrrbot | Sep 15, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lauren Oliverprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Drew, SarahNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The most dangerous sicknesses are those that make us believe we are well.

--Proverb 42, The Book of Shhh
For all the people who have infected me with

amor deliria nervosa in the past--

you know who you are.

For the people who will infect me in the future--

I can't wait to see who you'll be.

And in both cases:

Thank you.
First words
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Book description
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.

Now, everything is different. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But then, with only ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable
Haiku summary
Love is bad for you.
A cure is necessary.
Will Lena survive?

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Lena looks forward to receiving the government-mandated cure that prevents the delirium of love and leads to a safe, predictable, and happy life, until ninety-five days before her eighteenth birthday and her treatment, she falls in love.

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