Delirium – Lauren Oliver
Hodder & Stoughton, 2011
In the United States of America, love has been legally defined as a disease for sixty four years. Its emotional extremes are blamed by a powerful medical fraternity for everything from deceptive behaviour to hatred and war. At the age of eighteen every US citizen is expected to receive the cure that will make them immune to amor deliria nervosa for the rest of their lives. Lena Haloway is counting the days. Love was what killed her mother; love is a constant threat to her safety and sanity. Then, only a few months away from the procedure she has spent so long waiting for, Lena meets Alex, and she realises how dangerous love really is. It can transform your life…or destroy it.
I have some problems with the basic concept of this story. Even the maddest of dictators would think twice before eradicating a whole population’s love for their country and their way of life, and the consequences of the ensuing loss of compassion aren’t explored to my satisfaction. It might have made more sense to me if the procedure had been applied to a small splinter group rather than the majority of Americans. Also, I found it hard to like Lena as the protagonist – her character came across as selfish and resentful, as opposed to secondary characters like her friend Hana and second cousin Grace. That said, the idea of a civilisation trying to restructure a functional society without love is an interesting one. Its ascension may better explored in the second book of the series, Pandemonium.