Delirium (a word I can’t seem to type without the aid of spell check) is the first YA novel in awhile that I loved from cover to cover. I have yet to read Lauren Oliver’s debut novel, Before I Fall, but it has certainly been added to my unwieldy wish list.
One of the first things I loved about Delirium was that it takes place in Portland, Maine. A city I love and lived in for several years after college. Following Lena, our heroine, around the streets, beaches, and landmarks of Portland was fantastic and really fun. I could almost always picture exactly where the action was taking place as I’d been there before. Although, as an aside, it got on my nerves a bit when Oliver referred to The Old Port as just “Old Port” or the Eastern Prom as Eastern Promenade as though they were the same as Brown Street or Smith Ave. I know a single article in a sentence isn’t that important but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone refer to THE Old Port without adding a “the” to the phrase. But I digress…
The Portland I know and remember is drastically different in this dystopia. The world weaved is one of isolation, governmental brainwashing, disinformation and an intense amount of fear. The United States has closed her borders and declared love a disease. To cure this “affliction” citizens are essentially lobotomized after graduating from high school. The operation is supposed to cure all symptoms of Amor Deliria Nervosa [love] and then men and women are paired for marriage by a scientific committee. Anyone who shows too much emotion, laughs to loudly, is caught dancing, or even caring too much about their children can be prosecuted and potentially sent to The Crypts, a dungeon where inmates are left to rot in deplorable conditions.
At the beginning of the novel Lena goes along with this reality. She is resigned to the fact that her operation is scheduled for a date merely a few months away. She’s complacent and obedient — the perfect sheep, but then Lena meets Alex and everything changes.
I found myself able to relate to Lena wholeheartedly. She was a fully realized character with nuance and extreme likability. While light on actual romance, what there is was handled sweetly and believably. This book is part of a trilogy so thankfully yet another cliffhanger ending will be resolved at a later point. But this does bring out my continued annoyance with the trend for YA, as of late, to always be multi-parted. Even if I’m absolutely in love with a collection of characters sometimes it’s nice to have a succinct and tidy wrap-up to a book. What do you think? Is this sequel happy world getting a bit much? Or do you subscribe to the “more is more” camp?