"They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't."
So muses Lena, the main character and narrator of Delirium, giving us a peek into the rationale behind the dystopian society she lives in where teenagers get an operation around their 17th birthday or so, removing the part of the brain that "loves." Because the reason behind all the world wars and catastrophes in the days of yore was surely...too many slighted lovers!
Maybe I've just read way too many dystopian novels lately (along with anyone else on the planet who reads a lot of YA books), but when I heard that the premise for Delirium was a world where "love" had been banned, I rolled my eyes and sighed painfully. It just sounded so lame and unbelievable (that a society would actually decide banning love was the answer to world peace).
However, I really enjoyed Lauren Oliver's previous book, Before I Fall, so I decided to give this one a try. And it actually exceeded my expectations!
Though I never really got on board with the whole "love ruined the world so we cut the love nerves out of everyone's brains!" idea, it didn't ruin the book for me. When the book begins, Lena is just a few months away from having the operation that will render her incapable of love, and she's actually looking forward to it, viewing it as a rite of passage and a much wanted escape from all the raging teenage hormones she is currently suffering. Then, as one does in these books, she meets Someone, and begins to question things.
So it's not a terribly original story line, but Oliver is a great writer and she makes it compelling. I was really surprised to find myself staying up late tearing through the book because I had to find out what Lena would decide to do: to rebel or not! Lena is a likable character and she experiences growth as the novel progresses--at a realistic pace. She doesn't just see her loverboy the first time and immediately declare "damn the surgery, I'm in LOVE and I LOVE IT!" -- it takes awhile and that is a blessing. And there are obviously lots of obstacles in the way, this being a dystopian novel with an all-knowing all-seeing iron-fisted government.
The book ends on a massive cliffhanger, unsurprisingly. Because I am an awful person with no self restraint, I immediately got online after I finished it and read some spoilers about the second book, rather than reading the second book myself. And, woof! I did not love what I saw there. Which is terrible...I should grow up and actually read it and give it a chance, yadda yadda. Maybe one of these days.
In any case, not the most original or believable story lines for a dystopian novel, but still a good read that sucked me in and kept me up way past my bed time. 3.5 stars.