Love is a disease.
At least, that’s what seventeen-year-old Lena has always been told. When she turns eighteen, she will receive “the cure” – a surgical process that will prevent her from ever catching amor deliria nervosa, a.k.a. love, a deadly disease. Once she has the cure, she’ll be paired off with a man chosen for her, attend a college chosen for her, and pursue a career chosen for her. Her old life, including her best friend, Hana, will be a distant memory. The city she lives in is surrounded by an electric fence to keep out “Invalids” who are uncured, and anyone who is suspected of being a “sympathizer” is put to death or locked in a prison called The Crypts. Lena looks forward to being cured, partly because she fears ending up like her mother, who committed suicide after several failed attempts at being cured. But a chance encounter with Alex, one of the “Invalid” rebels who has infiltrated the government, leads to a blooming relationship that has Lena questioning everything she’s ever been told about amor delirium nervosa.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Delirium. As much as I loved The Hunger Games trilogy, in general I don’t read a lot of dystopian novels. I really liked the concept behind this book, though. The idea of a society in which telling someone you love them is a punishable offence is just plain terrifying. Oliver does an excellent job of demonstrating how blindly conforming to societal norms can turn us into unfeeling robots who don’t truly live. It’s certainly a chilling portrayal of adulthood. I did find the pacing slowed a bit in the middle, but the action really picked up in the last hundred pages or so, and the ending really surprised me. A second book,Pandemonium, is due out next year. I am curious to see where Oliver will take the story given the shocking ending. If you like dystopian YA, I highly recommend this book.