Delirium and Pandemonium

Thursday, February 28, 2013

by Lauren Oliver

Lena is a teenage girl living in a dystopian society in the near future. Scientists have found a way to cure the dangerous disease “deliria” and now everything is simple and easy. The downside to this is that deliria is actually means love, so once you are “cured” you no longer feel love for anything. A group of “Invalids” refuse the cure and live on the edges of society, rebelling against the mandatory cure and all it stands for.

Lena’s life begins to change as she nears her 18th birthday and the date for her cure procedure. He best friend Hana and a new boy named Alex start to challenge her world view and she starts to question the truths she has been told her whole life.

The thing I loved about this book is that, just like The Giver, it focuses on how truly being able to feel things affects every aspect of life. It’s a believable premise because anyone who has been in love understands that it can feel like a disease. The anxious feelings, heartbreak, excitement, etc. all of that goes hand-in-hand with the early stages of a sickness and it’s understandable that people might want to eradicate those feelings.

I love that it deals not only with romantic love, but on love of al kinds. People who have had the “cure” aren’t just content to settle into their life with their assigned mate, they lose interest in almost everything. They often no longer enjoy their favorite hobbies. They don’t show affection for their children or pets. They let all old friendship fall away, etc. Yes, they are spared from feeling depression or pain, but all of the joy is gone as well.  

This isn’t just a love story, though that’s a crucial aspect of the book. It’s more about how love is what gives you a passion for life. It’s the think that makes friendships for wonderful and children so important. Being able to love something means you can hear and song and your hold world stops. The pain is just as important as the joy and a life without either isn’t worth living.

BOTTOM LINE: I couldn’t put this book down. Sure, there are bits that are predictable and the characters feel a bit hollow sometimes, but the book did such great of a job of holding my attention that I’m wasn’t too worried about the writing being perfect. I will definitely be reading the rest of this series.

“If pneumonia felt this good I’d stand out in the snow in winter with bare feet and no coat on, or march into the hospital and kiss pneumonia patients.”

 “Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That’s what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side.”

by Lauren Oliver

Following on the heels on Lana’s escape into the Wilds at the end of Delirium we learn what happened to her in that new world. She’s still struggling to change the whole way she thinks about her civilization. Some of the things she’s been told her entire life are deeply ingrained in her psyche and that doesn’t disappear overnight. We meet a new cast of characters as Lana is integrated into a society of Invalids and learns how to survive in that new world.

I was less impressed by Oliver’s second installment of the Delirium trilogy. I really liked some of the elements, learning about the people who lived underground, etc., but other aspects fell flat.


Discovering Alex was still alive at the end of the book made the whole thing feel a lot like a Hunger Games knock off. He is now the scarred boy who sacrifices himself to save a girl and then is angry with her when they’re reunited; it felt like a weaker version of Katniss and Peeta’s story.

I still enjoyed parts of it, but I wasn’t a big fan of the Julian and Lana love story. It felt like a retelling of Delirium only this time Lana took on the same role Alex had in the first book. It was she who had to tell Julian that she was an Invalid. She had to open his eyes to the “real world” and then she had to save him from getting the cure/being executed. It was almost the exact same story in so many ways.


BOTTOM LINE: Though this one was a bit disappointing, I have high hopes for the final book in the trilogy, Requiem, out in next week (March 5.) I think that Oliver has the opportunity to wrap up the series in a powerful way and I hope she doesn’t just fall back on the forced love triangle to fuel the bulk of the story.

Oliver also released two novellas connected to the Delirium series.

by Lauren Oliver

We learn Hana’s side of what happened during the time period in Delirium. She is rebelling while Lana tries to play by the rules. There’s an interesting twist at the end, but overall I would have been more interested to know what happened to Hana after Lana escaped to the Wilds.  The story fills in a few holes in Delirium, but it’s lacking in too many ways.

by Lauren Oliver

This is the story of Lana’s mother, Annabel, and her eventual imprisonment. I loved learning how she fell in love with Lana’s father. Even if their story was a bit far-fetched, I still liked it. It gave a great depth to the character we only glimpse in Delirium and Pandemonium. I hope Annabel plays a bigger role in the final book.


Sandy Nawrot said...

I absolutely LOVED Delirium. You are right that there was some predictability, but Oliver's writing is compelling as hell. I also agree that the second book was more a means to an end than a book you couldn't lay down. The end was awesome though, and I'm totally psyched for the last installment!

Kristi said...

I loved Before I Fall so I've been wanting to read more by Lauren Oliver. I've been really wanting to read this series, but I'm holding out until the final book is released. I'm so impatient once I start a series that I don't want to have months to wait before a book is out. I guess since it's soon I can get started.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sandy - I'm nervous about the final book. I read a review yesterday of it that was so disappointed. Hope it lives up to its potential!

Kristi - Before I Fall was so good! I usually wait until I can read all the books in a series too. Hopefully I can get my hands on the new one soon.

Jenners said...

The classic "middle book falls flat." Let's hope she gets it going for the third book!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenners - I hope so. Reviews are mixed so far.