Thursday 19 June 2014

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver book cover

Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 1.5 / 5

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They say that the cure for Love will make me happy and safe forever. And I've always believed them. Until now. Now everything has changed. Now, I'd rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

I’m getting very good at unintentionally reading two very similar books straight after each other. Last month, I read Life Eternal and Die for Me back-to-back. This month, it’s Matched and Delirium. On page two, I should have backed away and thought 'Leave it a few weeks'. I had a warning! I should have taken it:

“I will have the procedure and then I’ll be paired with a boy the evaluators choose for me. In a few years, we’ll get married. Recently I’ve started having dreams about my wedding.”

Delirium was all too similar to Matched, and I regret not putting the book aside for a while. As you can probably gather from my rating at the top of the page, I wasn’t a fan of the book. Is Delirium a bad book? No, definitely not. But it’s a bad book for me. In short I had three main problems: I don’t see how Delirium is a dystopian; I didn’t enjoy the writing style and I didn’t connect with the characters.

The biggest stumbling block I had: I do not understand how this is a dystopia. It reads like a dictatorship set in quite a modern contemporary setting that we would be familiar with today. It’s unconvincing and very tame. When I read a book that is tagged ‘dystopian’, I automatically have expectations. I expect a very fast paced plot, with lots of action. I want crisp and believable world-building. I need to be invested in and sympathetic to the characters struggles and their daily lives, which are usually incredibly cruel and full of hardship. I love a unique and believable sci-fi element. I want to be on the edge-of my seat, feeling the panic, fear, desperation and whatever else the character experiences. Unfortunately, I didn’t experience one thing on my little list.

The Delirium world is basically a dictatorial government that has sealed off the United States from the rest of the world, and decided that compulsory lobotomies to suck out half your brain will cure the population of the dreaded love virus. In theory, this should be awesome! In practice, for my tastes, I hate to say but it failed miserably. The way it’s portrayed in the book is so far-fetched. The characters live pretty cushy lives, quite similar to how we do now. Cars are the only thing that stuck in my mind that was mentioned as being missing, due to limited gas and electricity. Now, a dictatorship and no cars on the streets do not make a believable or appealing dystopian world in my eyes.

It might seem that I was dead set against this book from the outset. This isn’t the case. I actually liked and enjoyed the book up until around page 136, when I noticed something that I couldn’t un-notice. I don’t like repetitiveness. I also don’t like inconsistencies, and when I notice them I can’t un-see and forget them. Lena goes to meet Alex at the beach one afternoon, and she takes off her shoes and leaves them on the sand [Page 136-7]. After some info-dumping disguised as conversation, they race each other out into the water to see who will reach one of the marker buoys out in the bay. [Page 143] Lena gets her “toe caught in a tangle of red and purple seaweed” then at the bottom of the page, she states that “my shoes are leaden and filled with water” – Uh… honey, your shoes are still on the beach. If that was it, I could have brushed it off as a mistake that fell through the cracks. It happens! I’m usually quite lenient with mistakes and carry on and not think of it again. Unfortunately, it’s repeated again on Page 144 - 5, Page 148 and then again on Page 149, each time she’s telling us about how her shoes or sneakers scrape along the bottom of the ocean, or they are dragging her down. At this stage I was thinking did I imagine it when she took off her shoes? I mean, it’s been mentioned four times now that she’s wearing them. It must be me. As she is leaving the beach at the end of the chapter, this happens: “I haul myself to my feet, grab my shoes, and limp up to my bike.”

Sigh, I don’t like doing this, and I feel like I’m being a nit-picky bitch, but when I notice something like this, I can’t forget it. This is the problem with densely descriptive and detailed books. If there are any inconsistencies at all, they are immediately blatantly obvious. What makes it worse though: the more I try to forget and overlook it, the more I keep thinking that it should have been picked up at some point during the editing stage.

I purposely try to avoid books with animals in the story. The reason I do this? I hate animal cruelty, both in real life and in fiction. Some people don’t like love triangles. Some don’t like insta-love. I can’t tolerate animal cruelty, and when I had to endure reading about a dog being clubbed by a guard and the owners leaving the poor thing with a crushed skull, dumped on a rubbish tip outside their house to bleed to death, I just about threw my book out the window with the hopes it would land in a shredder. I understand why this was done: to show the lack of humanity, brutality and how cold and heartless the government officials are. This might work as a shock factor for some readers and some might think I’m over-reacting, but it personally turns my stomach and it made me want to DNF in a fit of rage and nudge my book into a fiery pit of boiling lava.

The only character I could have connected with was Alex, but by the time things slowly got interesting it was too little, too late. I didn’t connect with Lena at any stage. I thought she was very robotic at the beginning of the book, and quite the goody-two-shoes. By the end, she had transformed into a brat with a terrible attitude and it didn’t endear me to her at all. The ending was as expected: a cliff-hanger. They don’t surprise me anymore. It’s more of a surprise if there isn’t a cliff-hanger!

I want to love every book I read, but I know that isn’t realistic. If the book wasn’t so long-winded, if everything was condensed and the book was maybe two hundred pages shorter, I might have been able to enjoy it. Delirium is my biggest disappointment so far this year, I was almost certain I would have at least liked it. I’m learning my lesson to go in with no expectations!


  1. Sorry to hear about another disappointing read for you, Alma... Perhaps it would be better to stay away from dystopian books for a while? Maybe changing genre is what you need right now. I surely hope your next read works out wonderfully well! *fingers crossed*

    1. After so many disappointments, I'm starting not to trust my own judgement on books anymore! I feel bad, last year I kept choosing books I loved. Now that I have a blog, this year just seems to be one disappointing book after another. I'm loving The Iron King at the minute, so hopefully the bad spell has been broken *fingers crossed* :D



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