Thanks to a little prodding from my literary conscience, Rhapsody Jill, I had the pleasure of reading Lauren Oliver's "Delirium" last year. I'd already been blown away by Oliver's writing skills with "Before I Fall", so it wasn't a tough sell. This author can really write a compelling YA novel.
I was over the moon when I was able to put my hands on this advance copy at SIBA last fall. "Delirium" is one of a trilogy and ended with a monstrosity of a cliff-hanger, so I was pretty motivated.
In my synopsis and discussion of this novel, there will be vague spoilers for "Delirium" that can't be avoided. My deepest apologies!
Synopsis: Lena used to live, innocently and ignorant of anything different, in a society that outlawed love, for love is what is at the root of all violence. At 16, all children must undergo a procedure that renders them passionless. But before Lena is "cured", she meets Alex and every truth she has ever known is challenged. Lena escapes beyond the walls of her society, without Alex, into The Wilds, where survival is priority number one. Resistance is priority number two.
The new Lena is born. She becomes hardened and scrappy, and officially becomes a freedom fighter, battling against a society that is more vicious than she could have ever imagined. In the process, however, she meets a boy who may very well be the enemy, but reawakens something in her soul that she has not felt in awhile. Lena begins to question where her loyalties lie, and who the REAL Lena is.
This second installment is told in alternating time periods...one that picks up immediately after Lena escapes into The Wilds, and a second that takes place in the present, in the heat of the Resistance movement. The reader is plunged into the darker realms of the human condition and comes out the other side with a greater appreciation for oppression, hatred, survival and forbidden love.
My thoughts: This is one of those books that, for me, was a means to an end. It did not light my fire like "Delirium" did. With "Delirium", the beauty was the authentic chemistry between Alex and Lena that is so darned hard to find in YA novels. And call me stubborn, but I was not going to forget Alex that quickly. My heart was not so easily changed.
I was restless and fidgety for all but the last 100 pages of the book. The story of how Lena became acclimated in The Wilds, and later became part of the Resistance, just didn't hold my interest. The shifting back and forth in time also felt jerky and unnatural as well, and I couldn't get any traction in the story.
Now that last 100 pages? It kicked my butt. My heart was pounding, my palms were sweating, and I was flipping the pages muttering "OMG, OMG, OMG". (Ha! How is that for a professional description?) I was glad I had remained vigilant, because it was worth all that previous struggle. Oliver delivered the reader, on a platter, nicely spiced and marinated, to the deep fryer that will be the third installment. I can't say I'm all that SHOCKED at the cliff-hanging ending, but it was incredibly satisfying.
If you read "Delirium" and are invested in the trilogy (and I can't imagine how you couldn't be), then you must read this one, if only to see it through and get your hands on what promises to be an amazing grand finale.
3.5 out of 5 stars