SERIES: Delirium, book 1
PUBLICATION DATE: Feb. 1, 2011
GENRE: Dystopia with romance
OVERALL RATING: highly recommended
GIVE IT TO: middle and high school boys and girls who like books like Matched,Uglies, and The Hunger Games
WHAT I LIKED: Dystopian teen romance is all the rage in my library right now, and Delirium certainly delivers. A few widely-spaced action sequences break up a patient and slow-building plot; Oliver takes her time developing memorable characters and painting a horrific future for Portland, Maine.
The romance between Alex and Lena is convincing and sweet; readers will root for them and pray they are not caught. While it is clear that Alex and Lena cannot continue their secret romance forever (there would be no story otherwise), I held my breath in anticipation of the moment they would finally get caught. With consequences ranging from brain-altering surgery to brutal imprisonment to violent death, readers will understand Lena's profound fear of falling in love.
The surprising cliffhanger ending sets up a highly-anticipated sequel.
I loved it in Before I Fall, and I loved it in Delirium: Lauren Oliver's color imagery is utterly remarkable. "Gray" is not simply gray here: "Gray" symbolizes Lena's first challenge to authority and is her first connection to Alex. Oliver has a way of making the reader FEEL the color, almost as though color itself is a character. In both her novels, Oliver's use of imagery never ceases to take my breath away.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:The story does remind me of many others that I've read previously: Uglies, The Declaration, Matched, The Giver (also rife with color imagery). There is typically a surgery and/or ceremony that marks the transition to adulthood, a person of the opposite sex who questions authority and triggers some change in the protagonist, a wild, hardscrabble area where the non-conforming people live. All include nature, fear, bad medicine, forbidden romance, and resistance to authority as central themes. While the themes may be fairly "played," Lauren Oliver has a way of making it magical and compelling.
- LANGUAGE: mild
- SEXUALITY: mild; some kissing and very mild talk of sex
- VIOLENCE: medium; the Authorities control the populace with billy clubs and machine guns. Some talk of citizens being killed or committing suicide to avoid the surgery.
- DRUGS/ ALCOHOL: mild; one teen drinks a beer; talk of raiding parents' liquor cabinet
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it, and now that I can recommend it, it will be hugely popular. Very likely to go on my Lone Star Plus reading list for next year!