I just re-read this book to refresh my memory now that the third in the series has come out, and I think I enjoyed this one even more the second time round. Lena is an exceptional main character. Her transformation throughout the book is executed brilliantly. Oliver has real skill in this area – Before I Fall‘s main character changes so much throughout the story, and Oliver shows that brilliance wasn’t a fluke by repeating it here in Delirium, with an entirely different character and plot. In less adept hands, many of Lena’s decisions would seem unrealistic, especially given her rule-follower personality, but Oliver provides rationalisations that make Lena’s choices totally believable.
The main male character, Alex, would melt any girl’s heart. Poor Lena didn’t stand a chance. He may even be slightly too perfect to be realistic, but I can’t say that bothered me when reading.
The world building of this dystopian society is also enthralling. We learn about the world through Lena’s eyes, who completely believes that love is a disease and can’t wait to be cured – at least in the beginning. As the story unfolds and her entire belief system is challenged, some thought-provoking concepts are raised, such as: what is more dangerous, anger or apathy? What is more important, love or duty? An added touch that I really liked was excerpts from the rewritten bible, for example:
The devil stole into the Garden of Eden. He carried with him the disease – amor delirium nervosa – in the form of a seed. It grew and flowered into a magnificent apple tree, which bore apples as bright as blood.
I only had two qualms with this story, one close to the beginning and one close to the end. [Spoiler removed. To read, see my review on Goodreads.]
Despite these two issues, I still loved the story overall, which is why I give it 4.5 stars. The ending left me stunned and breathless (both times I read it!), and I had to get my hands on Pandemonium to find out what happened for Lena next.
Sometimes I feel as though there are two me’s, one coasting directly on top of the other: the superficial me, who nods when she’s supposed to nod and says what she’s supposed to say, and some other, deeper part, the part that worries and dreams and says ‘Grey.’ Most of the time they move along in sync and I hardly notice the split, but sometimes it feels as though I’m two whole different people and I could rip apart at any second.
In that second it really hits me how deep and complex the lies are, how they run through Portland like sewers, backing up into everything, filling the city with stench: the whole city built and constructed within a perimeter of lies.
They say the cure is about happiness, but I understand now that it isn’t, and it never was. It’s about fear: fear of pain, fear of hurt, fear, fear, fear – a blind animal existence, bumping between walls, shuffling between ever-narrowing hallways, terrified and dull and stupid. … life isn’t life if you just float through it. I know that the whole point – the only point – is to find the things that matter, and hold on to them, and refuse to let them go.
I enjoyed Pandemonium but not as much as Delirium, possibly because there was no Alex. I missed Alex greatly.
I thought Lauren Oliver did a brilliant job of extending Lena’s character arc, showing us how life in the Wilds – not to mention Alex’s death – hardened and changed her. If you compare Lena at the start of Delirium to Lena at the end of Pandemonium, you’ll see plenty of changes, which all develop organically throughout the two books. I hope this growth continues in Requiem.
Now onto Julian, the youth leader of Deliria-Free America. I really liked Julian and how he changed throughout the story but I never quite bought his and Lena’s love story. Actually, it’s not that I didn’t buy it, it’s that I didn’t want to buy it.. [spoiler removed]
The best parts of this book, for me, were when Julian shared his experiences about the forbidden study (All You Need is Love) and his brother’s rebellion. I also thought Oliver made some interesting statements about the place of the disfigured in a ‘perfect’ society. I’m hoping to see Coin and co. play a part in bringing down the establishment in Requiem – which I’m off to start reading straight away now that it’s been released!
*NOTE: This review contains spoilers of the first two books in the series. Any spoilers for THIS book have been removed. If you’d like to read the spoilers, go to my review on Goodreads.*
I just finished this novel, and I feel… disappointed. I wanted more. The whole way through, the story didn’t grab me as much as the first two in the series. The emotion rarely jumped off the page and into my heart. Perhaps my expectations were too high.
Don’t get me wrong, I did like it. But I expected to love it and I didn’t. To me, the story just didn’t feel finished. I would have liked to see Lena have some stillness, some time to reflect and move on from the survival mode she was in for most of this book and Pandemonium.
There was so much grief and fight and grind, and not enough pay off. Interestingly, I felt the same way about The Hunger Games conclusion. Perhaps I do expect too much.
I’ll be interested to read other reviews and see if others have felt the same way or whether I’m just being a grouch!
How about you?
Have you read the Delirium series? If so, did you feel the same way I did about the ending?