Published: February 1st 2011 by HarperTeen
Details: Hardcover, 441 pages
My Rating: 2/5
I loved Oliver’s debut novel Before I Fall. This one however was a disappointment. The premise was interesting about a girl in a dystopian world where love is forbidden. But it turned out to be slow-going, with a sketchy world, a meek boring heroine and a shallow romance. The only good thing was the writing. Sorry to say I won’t continue the series.
My Full Review:
As you know, I loved Lauren Oliver’s debut Before I Fall. Therefore it came as a bit of a surprise that her second book Delirium was such a let-down.
Since the hype surrounding this book was massive I’m sure you’re familiar with the general plot already, but here’s a quick reminder in case you’ve missed it:
This is a dystopian novel, set in a time when love is considered a disease and the root of all the problems of mankind. The government has decided it mandatory that all 18-year olds undergo a surgery to remove the part of the brain that triggers and senses love.
We meet Lena, who only a few weeks before the operation does the unthinkable. She falls in love with a boy.
Okay, so the premise sounded intriguing and I was expecting a similar roller-coaster ride as the one I was taken on while reading Before I Fall.
Instead I was treated to about the most boring story I have ever read. I got to the end, but it sure involved quite a bit of struggles on my part. Let me explain why:
The plot is practically non-existent for the first half of the book and then some. Meaning, you could easily flip forward a few pages and not miss a thing. Oliver writes beautifully, I get that. But I wished she would have cut some of her descriptions as they bogged everything down. It felt like the book could have been slimmed down 200 pages and still kept the story line intact. It felt like there was so much fillers!
I also had a hard time connecting to Lena, the protagonist. Do you remember in my review of Before I Fall how I said that the heroine was a breath of fresh air from all the other ordinary plain and meek heroines out there. Well, unfortunately Lena falls straight into the latter category. She did not seem to have one single trait to make her stand out. Apart from maybe indecisiveness and low self-esteem. How Alex would fall for her and not her charismatic best friend Hana is a mystery.
The romance was (once again) of that “fall at first sight” type which I am beginning to loathe. After only a few weeks of knowing each other, Alex and Lena are already proclaiming their eternal love for each other, where they are literally ready to die for each other if so be it. Romantic? I don’t think so. Stupid is more like it.
The boy Alex seemed like a generic and bland perfect-type of guy. Always saying the right thing. No chemistry nor sparks in sight. Yawn.
The dystopian world was a joke. Now, as you know, if a story pulls me in, I am more than willing to suspense belief of an incomplete dystopian world. Here however, because of a non-existent plot, the many holes in the world Oliver had created were kind of hard to miss. A couple of things bothered me:
1) Why had the government decided that love of all things was to be considered dangerous, but not some other emotion, such as hatred, jealousy, fear etc? What had happened that made masses of people beg to be lobotomized, to have their love removed? None of this is explained more than a vague “love made people do crazy things“. Sorry Lauren, but I need more than that to believe in the world you’ve created.
2) I found it hard believing that the pre-operated teens could co-live with operated adults and still want to go through with the operation. Wouldn’t any normal teen who hangs out with both loving uncured teens and cured glazed-eyed adults realize that something is very odd about the way this society runs? Wouldn’t tons of teens oppose to this operation? In for instance Uglies,which deals with a similar world, Westerfeld solves this dilemma by keeping pre-operated and post-operated people separate. Which made much more sense to me.
3) I did not see how the government could think this made for a more peaceful society. There were obviously a lot of violence going on, what with the raids, the crypts and so on. All the violence in the book contradicted the whole notion that love was the root of all the problems/wars/disturbance of mankind.
4) The government is said to be very controlling. Yet it seemed as if the teens could get away with just about anything, such as break curfew a number of times, jump the fence to the wilds, hold huge parties in abandoned houses, listen to illegal music on the internet and so on. I certainly didn’t get the feeling that it was all that controlling and I never felt scared of the authorities.
If I were to sum everything up, while reading this book, it felt like I was the one who had been lobotomized, to have love removed, because the only feeling the book provoked in me was indifference. Needless to say, I won’t be continuing the series.
The second book Pandemonium to hit the shelves in March next year.