Thursday, February 17, 2011
Last fall, I was nudged gently by Rhapsody Jill to read "Before I Fall" by Lauren Oliver. What are friends for, but to give us recommendations that blow our minds and change the way we think about our lives? When the opportunity presented itself to receive an ARC of Oliver's new release "Delirium", and first of a trilogy (of course), I didn't even care what it was about. Just bring it on. I'm buying what she's selling.
Synopsis: Some kinds of love can be a good thing...love for your pet kitty, or your grandmother. But passion? People can act pretty irrational, even stark raving mad, under the grip of that kind of love. It can cause people to kill, cheat, steal, or even cause wars. That is the conclusion of a future US of A, and therefore, once a person reaches the age of 18, they will be "cured" of this disease forever - emotional neutering, if you will. They will be evaluated, and offered a choice of a handful of mates, they will have kids and live their lives as a calm, rational, unemotional law-abiding citizen.
17 year-old Lena loves her life, her best friend Hana, and running. She is still haunted, however, by the suicide of her mother when she was young. Her mother couldn't be cured, and it drove her mad. Lena is afraid she may have some of that gene in her, so the quicker she gets this over with, the better.
Until she meets Alex. He has the scar of the cured, but has a joie de vivre that suggests otherwise. And...he thinks Lena is beautiful. Through Alex, Lena learns of an underground movement against the authorities, of a world she's been sheltered from her entire life, and she learns about crazy, intoxicating, delirious love. She only has weeks until her cure though, and she is scheduled to marry some skinny dude with allergies. How will she be able to live without Alex in her life? How will she be able to live without love?
My thoughts: From the outset, I thought the premise of a world without love was a tad bit silly. No, really. The government lobotomizes people and sucks the emotion out of them to control them? Please! But an intellectual I am not, and I decided I could get behind this idea without further analysis. Once I dropped the tendency to mentally pick, I was swept away. All that teenage angst and euphoria just washed right over my 44 year-old self. Hey, I've been there. I remember.
The connection between Lena and Alex is almost immediate. It may seem a little too hasty, but again, been there done that. These are teenagers we're talking about here. And their relationship sizzles. Not in a sexual way (for those of you wondering whether your daughter should read the book), but in an almost spiritual way. Sparks almost fly off those pages.
The world-building definitely brought an appropriate amount of gravitas into the mix. Despite the wackiness of the government messing with affairs of the heart, these guys mean business. If anyone attempts to cross fences into The Wilds and are caught, they are executed without trial. If "regulators" unearth sympathizers, or even catch someone out after curfew, they might bash their heads in with a billy club, turn their bloodthirsty dogs on them, or dump them in the prison called The Crypts where you are left to rot. It seemed alot like Nazi Germany, personally, and was scarey.
There are moments of beauty in the pages, and there are scenes that made my heart pound. The ending is sudden, violent, and leaves many unanswered questions. I told you I didn't really care what the book was about upon receiving it, so I had no idea originally that this was a trilogy. As a result, the ending about made my head explode. HOW DARE THEY LEAVE ME LIKE THIS??? After my frantic, slobbering e-mail to Jill, she soothed my nerves by telling me there was more to come. Thank God.
The book wasn't exactly a mind-blower like Before I Fall. The plot wasn't as tight, and there were a lot of theoretical snags with which you could get hung up on. But I'm frankly tickled this story isn't over.
Want the opinion of Jill (Rhapsody in Books) on "Delirium"? Hop on over here, for the second part of our one-two punch.
4 out of 5 stars