Scenario: Lena lives in a world where love is outlawed before the age of 18 and “cured” through a surgical procedure at coming of age. She’s eager for her own cure and a life without fear until she does the unthinkable and, weeks before the procedure, falls in love.
- As others have noted, this reminded me a fair bit of Matched when it first started, and hey, I liked Matched. (A very detailed comparison can be found here.)
- Like Lena, I fell in love for the first time at 17, too (and reader, I married him). Lena’s story, somehow, despite all its dystopian trappings, rang true for me more than almost any teen romance I’ve read. Part of it, I think, is Oliver’s evenhandedness: the selflessness toward the beloved, the selfishness (or obliviousness) to the rest of the world, the highs, the lows. Just terrific.
- Hana. I certainly liked Alex and Lena, too, but a good, nuanced supporting cast is where it’s at, and often harder to do, it seems. And the multidimensionality of Hana helped support what I take to be Oliver’s wider theme: love isn’t just about romance, isn’t just boy-girl. What Lena begins to feel more deeply isn’t confined only to Alex, but also to Hana and her sweet, damaged cousin Grace. I think this wider significance helps push this book over into adult readership, too; Lena isn’t just experiencing first love. She’s experiencing internal revolution.
- I actually really loved the note of uncertainty on which this ended, especially because, after reading Before I Fall, I had steeled myself to expect it from Oliver. But I’ve been done with Delirium for about three hours now, and I’m already beyond pumped to learn there’s a sequel in the works.
- present tense. This, it appears, will be my eternal battle with YA. I suppose it is because I’m an ancient 25, but I tend to get tripped up by present tense when I’m reading a suspenseful, fast-paced novel. Is this just me?
- brand names. Seriously. Like, the world has changed enough that the Christianity myth has been completely supplanted, and there’s still Advil? I go back and forth on this point in science fiction: I hate when there’s made-up slang, and I hate when slang has stayed the same. This probably deserves its own post, actually.
Bottom Line: If Matched by Ally Condie or Oliver’s other YA, Before I Fall have circulated well at our library, it might be time to order our own copy of Delirium — especially since I had to wait three weeks for mine via ILL. In the meantime, I’ll be recommending this one to all my Hunger Games fangirls.