Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lazy Book Club: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Okay, so have you all read Delirium? I know a few of you have and I've loved your comments so far! I have to tell you - Leigh has not finished the book! She claims that it is too hard to read, which I can understand. Sometimes you have to be in the right mood for an intense dystopian book, and I think Delirium is definitely one of those.

I think the first thing I said when I started reading Delirium was "It's beautiful and very uncomfortable - a true sign of a great dystopian novel." It really is both of those things. I admit it, I'm not done with it. Not because I got bored but because it was so intense that I just couldn't immerse myself in that world right now. I have a lot of mom-stress right now and the lack of any real parental love in that society really struck me. I admit it, I'm weak. I will finish it someday, but until then, this LBC is all you brave souls. *smiles* Have fun!


Since some of you have left comments (thank you!), I'm going to start with your thoughts. Nikki mentioned the storyline of living without love, and how effectively it was written. It worked so well that it made her question, "how on earth I would live my life with no real emotion anymore." I think one of the interesting things about the book is that Lena is on the generational cusp of this new way of life. In the beginning she looks forward to the "cure," and, as Picksee pointed out, feels a certain comfort in it: "She didn’t like her situation necessarily, but she felt safe in it and looked forward to finally being really safe in the cure." That 'safety' is definitely something that jumped out at me as well. It was almost reassuring to me, in the beginning, that she would have the "cure."

A problem that I have with the cure, and I do believe it's an intentional problem on the author's part, is that it cannot be administered until age 18. If I think back to the point in my life when the "symptoms" of love affected me most, it was definitely in high school. Although I truly love my husband, it is a more mature love. When I was 16, I could fall in and out of "love" in a week, and the world could end if a relationship didn't work out. (Or so I thought...) I don't know if it was the same for you all, but I'm guessing it was or is.

Picksee also mentioned how the book made her think of freedom, "The whole idea of non-freedom sold as protection is so scary." I agree completely. And the idea that something within ourselves, a basic emotion that does indeed rule our lives, could be erased is truly frightening. The fact that The Powers that Be in Delirium can go beyond taking away rights and freedoms of what people do and extend that to what people feel is what makes this book so interesting. It really got to me when I thought of my love for my children. Trying to imagine raising them without the extreme, intense love I have for them is basically impossible.

Sophie mentioned the excerpts from the government propaganda that preceded each chapter. I also loved the way Lauren Oliver used this to give us as glimpse of how the "cure" was being sold as protection and freedom. It also made me think of the role of the Big, Bad, Evil Government in many dystopian novels. It's interesting how those in charge are most often the Villains in this genre, and Delirium is no exception to this rule. It was also mixed in with religion, as Picksee brought up. The same is true in The Handmaid's Tale, although in that book it was external freedoms that were taken away in the name of religion. Delirium, as I mentioned, takes it a step further by erasing a basic human emotion, and I think that makes it all the more powerful.

*sneaks back in to discuss before you touch on the ending I haven't read* I think there is a point in Delirium where Lauren Oliver does an excellent job of showing, physically, the emotional loss and emptiness that the current society experiences. It really struck me when Alex is taking Lena to his camp and they come upon the ruined neighborhood, complete with city streets and a rusted truck and a completely unharmed house. The house was physically untouched, "safe", but without a connection to other houses or to a society it had no purpose or value. It was a turning point for Lena to realize what her society was capable of in the name of "safety" but I felt like the house was representative of all the "cured" members. Because, without being connected by love and emotion, what purpose do they really serve? What meaning does their life have?

I knew you couldn't stay away, Leigh! And you jump in with such an amazing observation!

Now, of course, we must discuss the ending. *cue tragic soundtrack* Personally, I loved it. I honestly feel this book could stand alone and not be a series. I would have been okay with Alex dying to save Lena. Of course, now I want him to be alive and for her to find a way to save him and they live happily ever after with a Big Red Bow on top. But, I've read two of Lauren Oliver's books (this one and Before I Fall), and she does not seem one for the Big-Red-Bow type of ending. I will say, I'm really looking forward to seeing what comes next for Lena and Alex, and hopefully Lena's mom.

Okay, so what about you all? What do you expect for Lena in the future? Even if you've commented already, I'd love to hear more!

And, just to give you something to look forward to - our next LBC book will be something fun! I promise! I'm going to pick a John Green book to make you all read (because I looooove him!), so if there is one in particular you've been wanting to read, send me an email or tweet. Basically, help me pick which one because I love them all!



  1. I'm about a hundred pages into this book and it's amazing! The writing is so good and the world-building is dropped in perfectly...I can't wait to finish but I know I'll be sad, too. Excellent choice!

  2. SWEET! I just started this the other day. So happy to see I'm not too lazy for the LBC for once! ;)

  3. I've finished Delirium, but I'm going to try to knock out The Handmaid's Tale before I post my comments-I'm about 1/3 done. BUT, Delirium won't get out of my brain--I keep thinking about it! So, I know I need to hurry and finish Handmaid's Tale so I can get it them both out of my system!

  4. I absolutely fell in love with this book. It was something way out of the norm for me, I really normally like the vamp and wolf books when it comes to YA reading. I started this book because of Stacy, because she had such a great review of it and well she didn’t let me down. I loved it. 100% loved this book. It kept me going and wanting more, I couldn’t put it down, pretty sure my kids starved for a week at least. (J/K)

    So let’s get to it.
    1) Loved the characters, very well written.
    Each character was so well written that you knew which part they would play out next in a good way. Not a spoil the book kind of way, I loved Lena because of her innocence to really EVERYTHING and Hana and her rebellion to so much as she starts to step it up with her friend and expect more out of life.
    2) Loved the story line.
    I didn’t expect this story line at all. I would have never ever thought of such a story but it so worked, It worked so much that as I was actually think of how on earth I would live my life with no real emotion anymore, to my kids and husband and OMG if I couldn’t pick my own mate for life and had to choose between 3 guys I didn’t know or like for that matter. I would DIE. But in the end I was glad to see her fall in love (get INFECTED) and realize that she didn’t have to be like everyone else.
    3) Hated the very end.
    Look I know it’s a series (NOW), but I didn’t till I asked. I hated just the fact that Alex is stuck possibly going to die without her or live forever in the Crypts. She is on the other side and well does she even know where to go from here, she (Lena) is now officially alone. No clue where her mom is, how to get to the trailer or even fend for herself in the wilds. I’m worried for her. HEHE really I am, Sad I know.
    4) Can not wait for the next book.
    I will be waiting, pre-ordering, and counting down the days, months and or years for the next book. I have to have it. I truly have to read it. What’s next for Lena and Alex, PLEASE let them come together and live happily ever after!

  5. Okay, Delirium, oh how you made me think about all kinds of things! Religion, freedom, love, infatuation, etc. Here are some things I couldn’t get out of my head in particular:
    What I loved:
    • The idea that love is a disease is fascinating. I never would have thought of it that way-but once it was mentioned, I was like, yes! I could see how people would see it that way. And the way she listed out the symptoms throughout at the start of chapters or through the characters was disturbing in its accuracy-b/c crushes/love does do crazy things to us physically and mentally. Especially as teenagers. And they could be “symptoms” – scary! My only beef was familial love, that love is different. I wasn’t sure where that fit in exactly with the disease-until…see next bullet 
    • Related to that, the idea of how religion played into it was also clever and thought provoking. The whole concept initially made me think of Buddhism, which does teach that our connections, even love, for other people are the cause of human suffering, and should be overcome. Which, is essentially sold throughout the book by the government (“they”), or whomever, that the cure will end our suffering for us. And Lena even makes a comment about fading into the mist of God-which is very Buddhist-that when nirvana is reached, you fade into the greater collective. But then, throughout, it was almost a Christian rule that was used to keep them in line-rewriting Psalms to sell the cure. Which, is TWISTED because Christianity is based on love. It was just very interesting how she weaved it all together.
    • The whole idea of non-freedom sold as protection is so scary. And watching Lena go from being a believer to having her eyes open is really sad. She didn’t like her situation necessarily, but she felt safe in it and looked forward to finally being really safe in the cure. And, then she realized, she wasn’t. Sad. It kept making me think of Freedom by Jonathan Franzen and what we do with our freedoms that we do currently have.
    • The end was so startling, even though I knew something was coming, especially with all of the references to Romeo & Juliet, but I really thought they were both going to die and that would be their release to real freedom. I didn’t realize it was a trilogy until later. I couldn’t stop thinking about the ending for days. I’m torn about it being a trilogy-I really wanted it to just be the end and think of Lena out there trying to figure it out. The mystery made the ending very strong. But, being able to revisit the world and see what Lena can accomplish is also appealing.

    Oh, and I mostly read Handmaid's Tale, but I'm still have about 1/3 left to read. Perhaps I'll have more about that later :)

  6. I finished Handmaid's Tale last week-what a messed up book! I bothered me far more than Delirium, oddly. I realized I found loss of freedom far more stifling than loss of love. Even though love was stifled as well-just in another way. I found the writing style really interesting-I loved the very painfully slow unveiling of what was going on-at first it felt like I was watching the events through a thick fog, and then the picture cleared as the book progressed-so clever. I found that I didn't like it was well as the veil lifted completely about halfway through. It started to feel really rushed and then, bonk, the end. Which, I'm still thinking on-so I couldn't have disliked the rushing so much-it started to make more sense after reading the "notes" at the end-and the rushing could be a sign of something-she had to hurry up the story b/c of her situation. Either way-it haunted my dreams every night-and still does on some nights even though I'm done. Good suggestion to read both books-even thought I think I need a nice happy book next :)

  7. Loved the premise -- absolutely fell in love, oh wait, that wouldn't be possible, right?? LOL. All kidding aside, the way Lauren pulled quotes from government books to start off her chapter headings was brilliant. It allowed me to see what that world was like by actually reading the propoganda they were fed.

    And then OMGosh, the plot. The characters. And holy heck that ending. I could fill a page of exclamation points just to try and capture how I feel.

    Excellent LBC choice this month. Now, I have to read HM, I guess. Oh boyohboy, I 've been avoiding that one for years.

  8. @Picksee - I felt the same way about the The Handmaid's Tale - even reading it for the 4th (or 5th?) time. You captured it perfectly: "the very painfully slow unveiling of what was going on." When the awful truth is realized is when the book starts to pick up and Offred becomes more tangible. In the beginning, she was like a wisp, barely there. But as things began to happen (The Commander, Serena, Nick, the picture she is given), she becomes more in focus. Perhaps that is what gave you that rushed feeling towards the end?

  9. I loved it. At first I thought how wonderful it would be to have a "cure" for a broken heart but then I remembered how much I love my children. There is nothing, no cure or otherwise, that could take that love away. So i'd be Lena's mom in some prison going crazy. Ok that was off topic a bit.
    my point is I really enjoyed the book and definitely look forward to the next one.

  10. Leigh-Love the idea about the standalone house-I never thought of it that way, but that totally makes sense. And the fact that everyone is so disturbed it-like they are the world they escaped. Brilliant!

    Ooh, and Kandi-that concept of the cure for a broken heart made me think of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-how they essentially erased that which broke their heart-but, then they couldn't really-and didn't want to. That even w/ the broken heart and suffering-the characters didn't want to lose the good stuff. But, then you can't do that-the bad has to stay w/ the good, otherwise you have to loose it all. Which, is kind of what happened here in Delirium. Because of the "bad"-it all has to be wiped out. The side effects are worth the eradication. But, that's sooo not human-we have to have the bad w/ the good. It's what makes the good soooo good. And sometimes the good makes the bad so bad. But, it's good for us. :)


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