Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: Delirium

Delirium (Delirium, book one)
By Lauren Oliver, read by Sara Drew
Published 2011 by Listening Library

Love has officially been declared an illness, but these days, there is a cure. Lena is shortly going to receive the cure and then live a happy life, free from worry and craziness. But then, things start unraveling for Lena and she discovers that what she thought she knew about love and its cure is a lie.

This is another of the young adult dystopia series that I meant to read and got lost in the shuffle because there are seriously just so many of them that I can't keep up. But, the audio version was available for download from my library, so I happily loaded it onto my iPod and got listening. This has one of the more unusual premises of the recent rash of dystopia - love has been declared a disease and the cure is mandatory at the age of 18. Our heroine is, of course, about to reach this age and be cured but she meets a boy. It couldn't be simple, right? Otherwise we'd have no story. I'm not sure if the idea of love being the most deadly disease is ridiculous or brilliant - let's go for a little of both. Lena, our narrator, is in turns infuriating and compelling. I wanted so badly for her to discover the truth about her family and about love (because even if it is a deadly disease, it's pretty darn awesome, too) but I also wanted to punch her in the face a number of times. She seems wishy-washy too often - if I'm going to root for a heroine as a total kick-butt woman, I want her to know what she wants and to go for it, no waffling. In the end, I think Lena proved herself as stronger than the average heroine and it was hard not to root for her. I liked that Oliver prefaced each chapter with snippets from historical documents of this world; it made the society and their beliefs that much more convincing. Additionally, Oliver is a skilled writer; she has a beautiful way with words and it's lovely to read (or listen to, in my case). I also enjoyed that she didn't focus exclusively on romantic love - Lena spends a good chunk of the book seeking out the truth about her mother, trying to understand the type of love between a parent and a child. What I found endlessly distracting, and this is totally my own thing, is that this book is set in Maine. Not terribly many books are set in Maine (I'm originally from there, you see), so when it's mentioned, I take note. This seems to be a case where the book is set in Maine because it's as close to "the wild" as you can get while maintaining some semblance of civilization. But, as a Mainer, this book read as if Portland were the only big city in Maine (which may or may not be true) and everything else was backwoods creepy wilderness. I just found it bothersome.

As far as the audio goes, Drew is a very pleasant narrator - though I think I've mentioned before that she sounds an awful lot like Mandy Moore. I like the sound of her voice and I thought she carried the emotional bits off quite well. I really believed her as Lena - she inhabited the character well. Will I pick up the second book? Yes, I've got to discover what other truths the government is hiding and just what Lena will do now.

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