The Blurb: Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.(less)
So the more I read dystopian fiction, the more I find myself having to divide my reviews into two major sections. Whether or not I buy the society, and whether or not I liked the story. Most of the time those two line up, but with Delirium they didn’t.
I didn’t buy the society of Delirium. Oh I can buy a society choosing to lobotomize itself in order to cut down on destructive emotions, after all, Uglies features a society that intentionally gives itself brain damage in order to be compliant. The difference with Uglies though is the trade off, the near perfect society, made me wonder if it would be worth the cost.
To me, that’s what a good dystopian novel does. It behaves like a Utopian society in every way until you realize the price. The hidden horror lurking just beneath the surface, and your dystopian protagonist has to decide, is it worth it? Do I become complicit in these horrible happenings to reap the reward of comfort, society, and equality? Is THIS what it takes to have it all?
Now obviously, many famous dystopian novels don’t go the Utopian route. 1984, Anthem, Brave New World, not a single one of those societies featured a place I’d want to live. And more and more, YA dystopian stories are modeling themselves after those stories. The Hunger Games, Matched, Divergent. Class struggles and poverty still exist. It makes me a little sad to see this theme becoming predominant in YA.We paid the awful price, and what to we have to show for it? Nothing. No one from the outside looking in would think they’ve landed in Utopia. Everything is so bad we don’t even bother with the illusion of prosperity. The trend of dystopian novels in YA already reflected an uncertainty about our future, the shift to bleak dystopias indicate sheer hopelessness.
Another thing that a dystopian novels has to do, to me, is make me buy into the dystopia. There has to be logic, no matter how twisted. I can see love becoming a horror story, but the actual procedure doesn’t behave in consistent way. If you lobotomize the brain, it’s not just love you get rid of. It’s personality, hate, fear. You become a zombie. And the adults sometimes acted like that. Sometimes they were aggressive, and judgmental, and violent. Now no procedure on the brain is going to impact everyone the exact same way, so I was willing to accept the sheer number of people in the society that seemed to enjoy being violent. But not within the same person. So one of two things was happening in this society. Either the author wasn’t consistent with the procedure (no one should have felt extremes, thus you shouldn’t have enraged child abusers and over aggressive soldiers) Or the author didn’t do a good enough job explaining that it is not in fact a lobotomy the characters are getting, just a diminished capacity for love. In which case, her descriptions were inconsistent, and the cure would not have “cured” an urge to exercise, a sexual preference on a base level, the urge to reproduce, ect. The people in this society stilled cared what others thought of them, still exhibited pride and judgement, they still got angry. It just wasn’t consistent so I could not buy the society.
That being said though, I still liked the books. The story was good, even if the society wasn’t. The writing was beautiful! Poetic! Flowing. Honestly, it was fantastic writing. The descriptions!!! The nursery rhymes, the book of Shhh. While not believable to me, the world building that went into this was still amazing. I didn’t really like any of the characters that much but I didn’t like them because I wouldn’t like them in person, if that makes sense? They were 3 dimensional, well developed, whole characters. I just happen to dislike most of their personalties. I never really bought into the romance, but for a book series about love, I have to applaud that Oliver never actually made the story ALL about love. The world, the characters, and everything EXIST. The love story doesn’t drive the plot of the series, it could stand without it, the world didn’t stop and revolve around the two characters. Yay for having an identity Lena outside of lovestruck teen! Good for you 🙂 I did love the friendships formed in this series, and I love that those friendships didn’t revolve around the romance either. The girls talked to each other about things OTHER than boys. As in they had a life. Identities outside of their crush’s. I’m super impressed by that, and very happy to see it in a book that could have SO easily slipped way too far in the other direction without being called on it, because of the whole love is literally forbidden angle of this story. Like, in this context, and this context alone, disappearing into the romance would have been an act of rebellion and the romance could have actually been its own character and everything could have been all codependent and reliant on the love story, and for book 1, I was a bit worried it would do that but it didn’t!
I did feel that the ending of the series was rushed. I like that everything wasn’t neatly tied up with a bow, but despite not resolving much, the ending just felt gleaned over. And Oliver can DO endings. I read “Before I Fall.” Endings, are her fricken forte. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn there’s one more book for this series. There’s enough there for one.
Overall, I’d read it. I enjoyed it. You probably will to.