That’s right, love is considered to be a nasty disease in Lauren Oliver’s highly disturbing dystopian society. So to avoid infection, everyone must undergo a government-mandated lobotomy (aka “the procedure). After ridding themselves of the deliria, they go off to marry their government-assigned spouse and live out the rest of their loveless lives in suburbia.
In a sense, this is a new spin on the zombie apocalypse genre. Though they’re not shambling decomposing corpses, these people are left to wander the earth as vacant shells. Without the ability to love, they’re basically brainwashed and stripped of their souls. Come to think of it, it would be very much like living in a world of young Republicans. That, my friends, is a scary thought!
The townsfolk of Portland, Maine aren’t frightened. In fact, they’re looking forward to “the procedure” because life without love will be so much easier…or so the government says. For Lena Holloway, the operation couldn’t come soon enough. After her mother’s mysterious suicide, her ability to love is more like a form of torture. But after “the procedure” she can just go through the motions like her robotic aunt. After her 18th birthday, all the hurt, pain and sleepless nights will disappear forever. She’ll be under the government’s protection and everything will be hunky-dory.
But when Lena’s best friend begins to rebel against the government’s brainwashing regime, her comforting thoughts about “the procedure” begin to wane. What’s so wrong with listening to rock music and dancing with boys? Is love really catastrophic to a utopian society?
Things get even more confusing when she meets Alex, a mysterious young hospital security guard who sends her heart all aflutter. But it’s OK because the triangular scar on his neck proves that he’s “cured.” There’s no way she’ll contract the love virus…right?
As their relationship intensifies, Lena’s sheltered life begins to crumble. Her days as a normal teenage girl are numbered. And in a matter of days, her rainbow swirl of emotions will morph into a permanent state of gray. Should she go the safe route and adhere to the government’s rules? Or should she go with her gut and run away to the wilds, where the infected rebels (aka “the invalids”) live like animals? You’re going to have to read the book to find out!
Needless to say, the audiobook was definitely worth the five bucks. Though Delirium is classified as young adult, it’s much more existential than a lot of the books you’ll find on the contemporary fiction shelves. Looking back at a conversation I had with a Texas literature expert, I remember him saying there are a lot of books that have nothing happening on the page. Sure, there’s dialogue and action going on, but the energy just isn’t there. The great books – the ones that transport us to another reality– bring the story to life on every page. That’s what’s going on in Delirium. Lauren Oliver has clearly mastered the craft of writing – and I can’t wait to read what will happen next in Lena’s journey!