Love is beautiful and wonderful and amazing. Sometimes. It is also the root of some of our very deepest pain. If you could protect yourself from the pain, would you give up the wonders? Lauren Oliver’s dystopia Delirium is about a society that has decided that’s exactly what they want: a nice, even existence with sensible life pairs that are assigned at eighteen, pairings that will never cause either party any pain. It’s a society that has found a cure for love. One catch: you don’t get to choose whether or not you want to take the antidote. It’s required.
Enter Lena Haloway, a seventeen-year-old who has been counting down the days until her eighteenth birthday, the day she will receive the cure. She lives with the fear that she might catch the disease of love before she gets the antidote, a disease that could jeopardize the life of safety and contentment she’s long seen as her due. And then, on the day of her evaluation, Lena finds herself saying that Romeo and Juliet is “beautiful” when she’s supposed to say “frightening.” And then she says that her favorite color is that of the sky “Right before the sun rises…the pale nothing color,” when she’s supposed to say “Blue.” When a herd of cows painted with the words NOT CURE. DEATH comes storming through the labs, Lena catches a glimpse of a laughing boy, and her world starts to fracture.
I love a book with a great question at its center, and that’s definitely the case with Delirium. I mean, I love “love,” but I’m not sure I’d say that if I were suffering a broken heart. Is passion always better than security? Is freedom better than safety? Is one perfect kiss worth the pain of loss? I know what I’d say—and it’s pretty clear where Oliver stands—but I not only followed Lena’s evolution with a rather ravenous zeal, I’m also looking forward to seeing where her decision takes her in the sequel: Pandemonium.