The Hunger Games trilogy’s success has spawned a whole slew of dystopian society novels trying to grab a piece of this trendy readership pie. I am far more critical of this phenomenon having lived through it already for both Harry Potter and Twilight. Every time a writer creates something unique that catches on, writers and publishers alike seem to flood the market with similar offerings.
I found Delirium, by Lauren Oliver, on a table at Chapters with a buffet of other dystopian novels and a sign that read “If you loved Hunger Games… try these!” The photoshop montage cover that has become so affordable for publishers to produce (instead of the older tradition of hiring an illustrator) did little to make the book stand out from its companions, but the first part of the back jacket copy caught my attention.
“They say that the cure for LOVE will make me happy and safe forever. And I’ve always believed them. Until now.”
Intrigued, I picked up the book and began to skim through the first chapter. The first person narrative and writing style was gripping enough that I decided to add it to my basket.
Delirium is an easy read. The writing style is simple yet highly descriptive. The premise around which the novel is based, that love is a disease that must be cured and eradicated, is griping enough for most of us that it lures the reader on. The awakening of a sense of individuality in the main characters, so threatening to any strictly governed society, is both poignant and captivating. There were a few moments that felt a bit too overblown to me, too Romeo and Juliet or Edward and Bellaish… until I remembered the emotional highs and lows of my own teen years.
Lauren Oliver does a great job of creating a rich and detailed background against which her story can take place. Her limited range of characters are developed enough that you come to care about them as the tale unfolds. The plot twists are clever and well planned. As Delirium raced towards its conclusion, I found myself checking ahead to see how many pages were left with a touch of dread. Sure enough, the ending felt abrupt and dissatisfying. Like Matched, one of the other dystopian YA novels I’ve already reviewed, the story seemed to rely a bit too much on setting up the next book and leaving loose ends rather than creating a world and a tale that left the reader wanting more because of how well it was crafted. The preview for Pandemonium, the next book in the trilogy (really? It’s a trilogy?) was OK… and I will probably pick it up if I see it on sale… but if this first paperback format is released to sell me two HARDCOVER books afterwards… I think I will pass.
Paperback format, 441 pages, published in 2011 by Harper