“What if love were a disease?”
That’s the tagline for “Delirium”, Lauren Oliver’s new novel exploring a life where love is ‘cured’ at the age of 18, and everyone continues their lives with a partial lobotomy. They don’t feel happiness, sadness, or anger. They live in apathetic calmness, living in arranged marriages, in assigned jobs, raising but not particularly caring about the children they’re responsible for bringing up.
After watching her mum fall victim to the disease and commit suicide, Lena can’t wait for the day she gets the cure. Until she does the unthinkable, and falls in love…
What I loved above all about “Delirium” is the slow and subtle ways it introduces you to the world. Throwaway lines from Lena’s narrative hint at the undercurrent of violence in the city, and chapters open with snippets of playground songs, government documents, and prayers from a Church that combines both Christianity and science.
I warmed to Lena instantly, then got a little tired of her naivety half-way through, before loving her again as the story headed towards the finale. There’s a nice contrast in characterisation in the story, because while all adults are dull and distant after their lobotomies, the younger characters are all unique and energetic, filling up the pages with their quirks and personalities.
Lauren also pays close attention to the portrayal of emotions in the story, spending time describing exactly how Lena feels in the situation. It draws attention to all of her emotions, descriptions of thoughts that will be lost if she’s cured. It fits perfectly with the theme of a world removed of emotion.
The end came as a bit of a surprise to me, and I wasn’t keen on it, but I’m looking forward to the sequels and hope that they’ll keep impressing me as well as providing more details about the futuristic setting of the books. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next!
A copy of “Delirium” was provided for this review by Hodder & Stoughton.