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Teen Book Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver Rating

In Lena Haloway’s dystopian society love is dangerous and forbidden. According to the government, amor deliria nervosa is a serious disease that takes hold of a person, gets into their blood and renders them emotionally and physically useless, but now scientists have found a cure. By age 18 every citizen must undergo an invasive operation to eradicate the feelings of love. In this dystopian novel about forbidden love by award winning author Lauren Oliver, comes the story of a girl who believes that love is to be feared, until she meets a boy who changes her mind and her life.

The Story: Delirium

In just 95 days Lena Haloway will turn eighteen and receive the operation that will protect her from the dangerous disease amor deliria nervosa. According to The Safety, Health, and Happiness Handbook (often called The Book of Shhh) this operation is necessary to keep a person from submitting to dangerous symptoms like loss of focus, irrational decision making, sweaty palms, and difficulty breathing. Panic sets in after Lena meets Alex and she finds herself manifesting all the symptoms of love. While in turmoil about her new emotions, Lena  discovers that Alex lives outside the fenced borders of her city and realizes if they are caught together, they could be put to death.

As she begins to question the motives of her society and family, Lena unearths deeply hidden secrets which will lead both her and Alex to come up with a dangerous and risky plan for escape.

The Author: Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver lives in Brooklyn, New York and has always been an avid writer. She graduated from New York University with an MFA in creative writing.

Her first book, If I Fall, received glowing reviews and was named by Publishers Weekly as one of the best children’s books of 2010. (Source: Publishers Weekly) For more about the author, Delirium and her other books, see my interview with Lauren Oliver.

My Recommendation: Delirium

Delirium is an original, heart pounding, exciting, and sweet read.  First, the premise of the story, a government  declaring love dangerous  and mandating that everyone have an operation, is unusual  as well as terrifying.  Second, the danger and secrecy that surrounds the forbidden romance between Lena and Alex gives the story tension and an underlying current of excitement. Third, author Lauren Oliver is a skillful writer who has an ability to create a lyrical quality to her story with words. For example, when Lena is reasoning through what she’s been raised to believe about love with what she feels for Alex she describes it as this, “Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That’s what it is: an edge; a razor.  (Delirium, 301). Oliver’s words flow so smoothly across the pages that it’s like reading poetry.

Delirium has the elements of a great dystopian novel: controlling government, forbidden love, and dangerous, risk taking decisions. The novel's sequence of events builds to a tense ending that leaves readers dangling. This is one cliffhanger of an ending that will keep readers in suspense until the second book, Pandemonium, is released in 2012. The publisher recommends this book for ages 14-up. (HarperCollins, 2011. ISBN: 9780061726828)

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