The book Delirium by Lauren Oliver was my main read for the summer, and I haven’t been this impressed in a long time.
Centered on a teenage girl named Magdalena Haloway (called Lena by her friends and family), Delirium is set in a futuristic America, mostly taking place in the city of Portland, Maine. In this future society, the government controls everything, from what music you can listen to, to what person you can marry. Love is thought to be a deadly disease, and it can only be prevented by something called the cure-- a shot given to every eighteen year old that suppresses most human emotions. While this all seems crazy, it is normal for the characters of the story. Schools segregated by gender, tests that determine what you will do for the rest of your life, strict curfews enforced by bands of regulators, and the constant reminder that expressing any emotion is a crime, are all they have ever known.
Because of her family’s troubled past, Lena has always followed the rules. But when her best friend Hanna begins to stray, she finds that there is much more to life than what the government allows them to think. In the summer following their high school graduation, Lena meets a boy named Alex. With his help, she learns more about herself, her family, and the world around her-- including the world beyond the fences that keep Portland secure. As she nears her eighteenth birthday, the last thing Lena wants is to be cured. During her summer with Hanna and Alex, many things have been revealed to her, but one stands out and summarizes the rest: While love has been considered a disease, something that will kill you if it goes untreated, uncured, she now knows that love can also save you.
Delirium is a must-read for any science fiction, dystopia, and/or romance lover. Lauren Oliver, who also penned the young adult romance Before I Fall, uses beautifully descriptive and sometimes even poetic language to paint a picture of love in a world where the word itself is forbidden. Delirium is the first book in a trilogy, followed by Pandemonium and Requiem, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
Will Lena be forced into taking the cure and living a life that has already been decided for her, or will love conquer all? Read Delirium to find out.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.