Saturday, March 9, 2013

Delirium (by Lauren Oliver)


Summary of Delirium (by Lauren Oliver):
Lena Haloway is content in the government-managed society she lives in.   The reality that everything is neatly laid out for her—career, husband, life—makes her look forward to her “cure” and the future.   Despite the tragedy of her mother’s suicide and the whispers of the “invalid” community, Lena believes the government knows what is best for its people.   As she dabbles in investigating the forbidden parts of society, she begins to realize the government and the cure are not really about her best interests.  Instead, she will seal for herself a future that is grey and dreary—if she submits.   Lena realizes it is better to love and to live—even if it means feelings of pain and loss.  She must make an important, and possibility dangerous, decision before it is too late. 

Evaluation:
I have seen the Delirium series and Lauren Oliver on many favorites’ lists.  I took the plunge and began reading Delirium at the beginning of the week…I could not put it down.  I was enraptured in the plot immediately!  Ms. Oliver’s language is often poetic.  Her storytelling keeps a steady pace, each new event driving me to find out what will happen to Lena, Hana (her best friend), and Alex (her first love). 

The characterization is well done.  One of my favorite parts is the relationship between Lena and Hana.  There is an innocence in their friendship as they savor the last days of their youth and life with emotions.  They are fiercely loyal and devoted to each other.  Lena starts off as an obedient, though internally conflicted, protagonist.  As the story progresses, she grows bold, confident, and independent—willing to risk everything for truth, freedom, and love.  Alex is protective, loving, and strong.  They appear to be a good, healthy match.    

Since they are living in an oppressive society, it is natural to cheer them on as they defy social and government expectations.  On the other hand, I always feel a sense of conflict as teens’ rebel in novels.  I realize a certain amount of stepping out from parents is healthy and necessary, but I don’t believe it has to be under of cloud of deception and rebellion.  Lena lies and sneaks around a lot--though it is understandable to a degree in her extremely rigid society because there is no other recourse, ever.  I hope young adult readers will not view their own seemingly “oppressive” lives as an excuse to do the same.  This story (like other dystopian novels) should be a cautionary tale of allowing the government too much control over our lives.  Hopefully, it will prod young people to seek out representatives that fight for individual autonomy rather than government control--no matter how enticing the freebies may seem.

There are, also, a handful of profanities and some mild sexual content.  For instance, a scene is briefly described where Alex gazes at Lena with no shirt on.  They also have a night alone sleeping together.  Lena does not feel ready for sex. Alex respects her decision with grace.  Of course, there are many references to kissing.   

The novel prompted me to think about the age-old dilemma of emotion vs. reason.   I think we are so drawn to emotions as humans because they, along with their cohorts passion and  love, are not something we can readily control.  Sometimes we don't want to.  Other times we want or need to, but feel we cannot.  This situation could spur a lively discussion on the role of passion and emotions as well as reason and control in our lives.

Overall, I genuinely enjoyed this dystopian novel.  I have the next one, Pandemonium, on reserve.  I look forward to reading the other books in the series.  I recommend Delirium for ages 14 and up.  

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear that you enjoyed this one so much. I have had it on my list for a while. I am looking forward to getting to it soon! :)
    ~Jess

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