Book Talk: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

"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." (Quote from back)

Publisher: HarperCollins
Date: February 1, 2011
Series or Stand-alone: First in trilogy
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Description:  Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love - the deliria - blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. 
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

First line: It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three years since the scientist perfected a cure.

There’s a quote by Oscar Wilde that says, “Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring." 

This is Delirium. This is the world that Lena Holoway lives in—a world without love. A world, in my head, that is a lot like this quote: sunless, poor, dead.

Forty-three years ago, the government developed a cure for amor deliria nervosa, a disease that caused impaired judgment, uncontrollable thoughts, rapid heartbeat, an inability to function, a disturbed state of mind. Fever. Restlessness. Illusions.

At the age of eighteen, every person receives this cure and becomes a member of society. They can live after that, free from the worries and delirium that amor deliria nervosa causes. What is the cure? The government removes a part of the brain that controls amor deliria nervosa—love. Love destroyed the world until The Cure.

Lena is counting down the days, ready, willing. She wants to start this new life they have planned for her. Of course, then the unthinkable happens. She meets Alex—and falls in love.

The world Lauren Oliver created is haunting. Imagine a world where everyone simply is. Parents feel no affection toward their children. Wives feel no affection toward their husbands. People don’t love each other. Everyone plans your life and you simply follow. I can only imagine it because of this book, this moving, hopeful, devastating book.

Lena is good protagonist. At first, she’s not that interesting. Not that extraordinary and overly cautious. She cares too much and not enough. Then, a boy laughs and her whole world is turned upside down. That’s the moment I loved her. Everything that happens after that is a whirlwind of romance and discovery and hope in the midst of despair. The secrets that Lena learns—and how she handles them—really show all that she’s risking and all that she’s lost. It’s amazing to see her discover the sunlight.

Alex is the boy she falls in love with. He’s everything she shouldn’t want and everything she does. They are star-crossed lovers in every sense of the word. And being such, you have this feeling the whole time that it won’t end well for them. But you want it to. You root for them. Alex is cultured and smart and very swoon-worthy. He helps Lena, guides her, pulls the strength out of her. Their romance is one of the few in YA that’s completely developed and justified. You fall in love with them. You feel the appeal of this boy and his world.

Not only is the story amazing, the writing—oh the writing. I could take a highlighter to this book and highlight the beautiful lines that exist. The whole book would be yellow. The prose is so poetic yet simple. They speak volumes to what Lena is feeling—what it would be like to discover this wonderful thing that you never knew existed. I won’t spoil anything but just know that is the first in a series. If you don’t know that, the ending will devastate you. It leaves you hanging!

Delirium really stands out for me. I actually gave it to a friend—who doesn’t read YA at all—and she adored it. She said she cried. When we met up again, I asked her why and she said, “It was devastating and beautiful.”

That’s a very fitting line. Everything about Delirium is devastatingly beautiful. It’s a love story that will haunt you and make you wonder if all those songs about the world needing love and being love (and love in general,) really have a point after all. And the biggest question of all: What would the world be like without love?


  1. You wrote a beautiful review. I liked the idea and the characters, yes Alex seems swoon worthy, but for the love of pete, all the description! haha Some loved that and thinks it made the book. I skimmed over that and read the parts that moved the plot along. haha We have all our personal taste. ;) That being said, I agree and do still recommend it. What an ending!

  2. I am the only person in the world who doesn't like this one :( I don't hate it, I just didn't think it was fantastical.

  3. Julie--I can agree with you. I think there were moments of skip-age.

    Pam--You, in fact aren't alone! I've heard the opposite side. It's okay that you didn't. :)

  4. This book is so yummy!! Or, as you say...devastatingly beautiful! I loved the writing. And I'm not normally one for details, but I think her writing is fantastic!

  5. I looooved this book! And I agree with you, the writing in this books is absolutely fantastic! And I loved how we can actually see Lena grow.
    Great review :D

  6. It was this post that made me go out and purchase this book the minute my local bookstore had it. I loved it and can't wait for the second book.


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