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Radiant Shadows

Delirium: The Special Edition

Delirium  - Lauren Oliver With the hype surrounding this series, Delirium had quite high expectations to meet. So, as with any review but especially with this one, please take everything I’m about to criticize with a grain of salt – it’s virtually impossible to live up to the kind of expectations people had mentally prepared me for with Delirium. While I really enjoyed Oliver’s prose and I yearned to believe in the world she had created, the slightly stagnant first half, the inconsistent world building and rather stereotypical characterization all gave me pause.As with any dystopian, a certain suspension of disbelief is required in order to immerse oneself into a world that is so different from the one we currently inhabit. The problem I had with Delirium was my inability to suspend disbelief to the point where I could fathom a world where love is seen as a disease, and I think most of my inability to believe was rooted in Olivers’ characters’ nonchalance toward their punishments for breaking laws concerning showing affection. Having been raised to fear love and all of its symptoms, and having witnessed her mother’s depression (and eventual suicide) after repeated attempts to cure her were ineffective, Delirium’s protagonist Lena should have had a healthy fear of anything associated with love and an understanding of the repercussions if someone fails to comply with government regulations surrounding the disease. But shortly after meeting Alex, Lena is breaking curfew, touching him in front of Cureds, and eventually, making out with him in dark alleys like she had no fear for the consequences of getting caught – which, as Alex enlightened her, for some meant death. So to experience something she has been taught to fear, with a person she barely knows, Lena puts her life on the line.This, I might have been able to believe, if it hadn’t been for Lena’s abhorrence towards her best friend Hana, when she began to question the government. At every turn, as soon as Hana mentioned something illegal – whether it was internet sites that played non-sanctioned music, post-curfew co-ed parties with live bands, or thoughts about love being normal – Lena was the first person to shut her down by reciting some government propaganda or by listing the benefits of the cure. She was also the first to point out what kind of fate Hana could expect, if anyone were to catch her in any of these illegal activities. So the real problem for me with Delirium, was why Lena was so quick to set aside all of her reservations.My inability to understand in her actions aside, I did mostly like Lena as a protagonist. Even though her actions were sporadic, and she was constantly at war with herself, I empathized with her struggle to decide what she should – what she wanted – to believe. It was her relationship with Alex, or more-so Alex, that I didn’t overly enjoy. Yes their love story was adorable, and his reasons for being so fascinated with her had me grinning. I also really enjoyed that they had an entire summer to fall in love, and that we got to witness some of their stolen moments together – instead of being forced to believe in instant lust-is-love. But Alex as a person? He fit the stereotypical YA guy-mould to a tee. Attractive, arrogant and mysterious? Check. Troubled by a dark secret and haunted by a sad past? Check. Slightly stalkerish? Unfortunately, check. I really think Kat Kennedy said it best, “Alex felt like a def­i­n­i­tion of desir­able love inter­est instead of actu­ally being a per­son Lena fell in love with.” His character had no depth, no spark, and thus, he and I shared no connection.My issues aside, I did really enjoy reading Delirium - Oliver’s prose is simply beautiful and I found myself taking frequent breaks to just marvel over how well something flowed, or how poignantly it resonated with me.You have to understand. I am no one special. I am just a single girl. I am five feet two inches tall and I am in-between in every way. But I have a secret. You can build walls all the way to the sky and I will find a way to fly above them. You can try to pin me down with a hundred thousand arms, but I will find a way to resist. And there are many of us out there, more than you think. People who refuse to stop believing. People who refuse to come to earth. People who love in a world without walls, people who love into hate, into refusal, against hope, and without fear. I love you. Remember. They cannot take it.And her descriptions were so vivid, so clear, that I couldn’t help but nod along in assent.Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That’s what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side.If nothing else, I think Delirium deserves a read solely for its prose.Though I had issues, I enjoyed Delirium; maybe not as much as I was expecting to, but I enjoyed it nonetheless and I’m interested to see where the sequel, Pandemonium, takes Lena and to see what happens with Alex.