Delirium Book Review

The word is: run.

After that the insect men fall on him. He is taken up by all their snapping, ravaging arms and mouths like an animal being set upon by vultures, enfolded in all their darkness.

–pg 440

Delirium by Lauren Oliver


In Lena’s world, love is a disease. It can kill you if you have it, and it can kill you if you don’t. So the kind government has created a cure which all people must have by their eighteenth birthday. Lena, 17, is counting down the days until she can have the procedure done and become a calm, mature adult with a purpose in her society. That is, until she meets Alex,  a rebel who is about to teach Lena a thing or two about life.

So this is another dystopian story. I’m pretty sure this is going to be the new phase—or rather, it is the new phase for YA writers. I’ve seen so many of them lately! I’ve read a few…they’ve been varied in quality.

This one was definitely readable. The writing was easy to follow, though sometimes, I thought a little excessively flowery. I felt like the extensive descriptions didn’t always fit the mood of the story. Well, I mean they fit, but they made it seems more day-dreamy and less scary. And at first that works while Lena is happy with the world she lives in, but in the end, when everything is falling apart and she’s still moony over rocks and flowers and stars…my eyebrows were up in slight bemusement.

I thought for the most part Lena was a good narrator. I liked the fact that she had emotions and, you know, felt them. She gets angry with her best friend, she falls in love, she finds some big secrets out and I thought her depictions of those feelings were real.

As a character, I would say that I’m totally, utterly, and completely sick of having “normal” girls are main characters. They’re all supposed to be average looking and yet the hottest guys fall for them. That’s totally unrealistic. I mean, it would be believable if say the girl thought the boy was hot, but everyone else thought he was plain, which is how all these boys are seeing these girls. I mean, that makes sense. But this one way beauty thing is just too weird….

But, that’s not my real point here. What I’m actually trying to say is that there is no diversity between these girls. They’re all white. They all claim to be plain. They all speak like they have no self-confidence but their actions don’t match that. I just find that rather irritating. When was the last time you saw a colored girl as a main character? God, I’m pretty sure that was Katniss of the olive skin, and nothing before or after her.

It’s like, there are other people out there! But more than that, Lena doesn’t stand out in my mind. She’s just another YA romance girl created as a blank slate so that we readers can easily slip into her character and live her love story. Which is very considerate of the authors, but it gets boring after the first five Bellas. I mean Lenas. I mean—forget it.

So Lena is just…average. Alex is obviously perfect with just enough secrets to make any teen girl swoon. Together I thought they made a nice couple. I really liked that Alex had started to like her first, and in the same manner that many a teen boy starts liking a girl: he just sorta saw her….and then wanted to get to know her. I thought that was non-creepy and perfectly sweet and their romance develops quite nicely from there.

The over-18s in Lena’s world are all zombie like, which I guess makes sense since you can’t love anything so there’s really no point in living proper. Lena has a friend, Hana who I thought was nice and real. She was brave and adventurous, but to a point which I think most people would be given the circumstances.

In terms of plot, I called a lot of the things. I even called that Alex would rip his shirt off when Lena started bleeding at one point because flesh wounds always mean it’s a good time to get naked. On a related tangent, when Alex uses his shirt to make bandages he rips it up. People do this a lot in books. I don’t understand how. I mean, try as I might, the cotton I wear must be made from plants of steel because I can’t rip them to save my life. Maybe the adrenaline rush of these dire moments gives you shirt-ripping abilities. Or maybe it’s because Alex took his shirt off and was totally stare-worthy. Like if you’re hot enough, the shirt just rips itself.

Ahem. Moving on. So the plot was there to support the romance for the most part, though I feel like it’s probably going to swell in later books and become the rebellion you knew it was going to be from page one.

I just reread that sentence. Plot to support the romance…I suppose you could say the plot was romance. Whatever. What I mean was that not much else happens besides them falling in love and anything that does you could’ve guessed.

Despite that, the book was still entertaining. I read through it pretty quickly. It boasts some 400 pages, but the book is about the size of my hand and the font is still like 12 or something. In actuality, I think it’s really no more than 200. I read it in about 5 hours. So it’s short. But I’m glad Oliver didn’t try to drag things out. The pacing was good.

Before I say what’s wrong, I just want to mention really quick that even though I ranted about Lena being just like all the other girls before, there was one line in the story that really stood out to me:

Lena is getting ready to meet some boy that she doesn’t care about and her aunt says something like “I suppose that’s as good as it gets,” and Lena narrates that she was surprised to suddenly remember that she was supposed to be plain because Alex had made her feel beautiful.

I loved that. Just that one sentence that shows a nice, healthy, relationship where the girl grows because of the romance, makes this book so much better.

Okay. Now, to bring things down a notch: I have to say that this book lacked one big dollop of believability because it is never really explained why in the world America would even consider mass-removing love. We’re the one culture that is frankly obsessed with it. I can’t see how people would agree to that. I actually don’t see how our government would agree to that.

I think America is a really bad place to set up dystopias with super controlling governments unless there has been a natural disaster or a huge war that ripped the country up. Because we have such an intricate system of checks and balances and a very passionate population that loves to scream freedom more than anything else, I feel like we would never just give in to something like that. We don’t really know how Lena’s version of the country got to be the way it is, but unless that is explained, I feel like this is more fantasy than dystopia because giving up love—love of anything! Life, art, music, soccer—seems wholly unrealistic. Even if it was painted as a disease.

Overall, this book was a solid read. It’s pretty girly and I think that in later series there will be more action and that Lena really has the potential to develop as a character. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this doesn’t become a love triangle because I’m so sick of those.

There were a few cuss words (f-bombs and others) and make out scenes that make it unsuitable for younger audiences. Well, I mean it’s YA lit so I have no idea why a 2nd grader would be reading it, but you can never tell these days.

So anyways, for a series starter, I’d say this series hasn’t quite met its full potential yet, but I think if executed properly they will be quite a thrilling set. The end was quite exciting. Definitely one of the better romance-dystopians (very similar to the book Matched) and I’m looking forward to reading more.

Ri’s Rating:


0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.

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1 Comment

  1. I agree, it better not be a love triangle. That said, I loved this book and I already bought Oliver’s debut, her writing was my favourite part of it.


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