Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

"Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment." - Rita Mae Brown

"Nothing is perfect. Therefore being perfect is being nothing, and that's a great way to lose weight." - Craig Benzine

I want to give this book four separate reviews. I think it divides fairly well into four distinct parts, and I have different feelings about all of them. However, it is one book, so it gets one post (sorry it's so long-- I had a lot to say). Page numbers are approximate (give or take about 20).

In the world of Delirium, love is a disease known as amor delirium nervosa, and there is a Cure. This Cure is administered to everyone as soon after their eighteenth birthday as possible. The narrator, Lena, is three months away from her Cure at the beginning of the book, and she can't wait.

Part 1 (pages 0-100): The Awesome Part

I read this part in one day, and I raved about it to anyone who would listen. It focuses around the dystopian-ness, and how their society works (they read Romeo and Juliet as freshmen just like we do...except they read it in health class- how awesome is that?). Despite the fact that they view love/passion (for anyone in any context or any hobby or whatever in general) as something to be eradicated, I think this part treats the idea of love pretty fairly and gives it a realistic representation.
I read chapter 1 (it's only about 4 pages) three times before moving on. This part gets 5 stars.

Part 2 (pages 100-200): The Cliche Part

This is the part where I saw every single plot "twist" coming from a mile away. However, it wasn't cliche in an annoying way, so I didn't particularly mind. The awesomeness of the first part carried me through. 
This part gets 3 stars.

Part 3 (pages 200-300): The Twilight Part

This is the place where everything goes all Twilight-y and I start rolling my eyes.
Ironically enough, it's in Part 3--the part in which Lena realizes that love is a good thing-- that I start to be annoyed by its portrayal. People in love might act like air-heads on occasion, but they're not complete air-heads.

Seriously: It's one thing to enjoy kissing, and to want to do it often. But it's quite another thing to say that everything that happened in your entire life before you kissed random shirtless guy in a shed that smells of wet dog didn't matter. Okay, so he wasn't a random guy. He was the guy from Part 2. But still. 
(Also, there is an entire two paragraphs about how awesome this guy's chest is. I had to put the book down and laugh just because there really isn't any other way to react. Just tell me he's very attractive, will you? I can fill in the details on my own. I flipped back to that page during lunch today and passed the book around just to show how ridiculous it was.)

In this part they also visit Awesome Chest Guy's home in the Mysterious Wilds. And when they get into his house/tent/trailer thing, it turns out he has a transparent roof with a romantic view of the moon and then he starts lighting candles. REALLY? 
 I've nothing against candles or watching the moon, but...both of them together just seems completely excessive in this context. This is the middle of the forest in a camp run by the homeless impoverished outcasts of society. It's a freaking dystopia. (Plus I think they'd feel a bit more awkward than the book depicted.)

But then it turns out he has huge stacks of books lying around his trailer, and he pulls one out. So he's redeemed himself a bit, right? I love being read aloud to.
But then he starts reading love poems to her. NO. Too much. That's really, really too much. Read her anything else (even a story that happens to have romance in it!) and the night is lovely (ha, unintentional pun) and romantic (even if slightly over-the-top with the candles, but hey, they don't have electric light) and perfectly enjoyable. BUT NOT LOVE POETRY. 

So this part gets 2 stars, 2 only because it flew by so quickly I didn't have the time to get even more annoyed with it before reaching

Part 4 (page 300- End): The Stressful Part

Hand me a book, and chances are that I'll like the first third-or-so best. Authors are simply better at writing beginnings, since we get more practice with that. In addition, beginnings are more about immersion (see review for Part 1 and also Avatar) into the world. And you know I love the worlds.
Endings are more formulaic, because stuff has to be resolved somehow.

Part 4 was the adrenaline-filled Ticking Clock Ending that is so common and rarely fails to keep the book open on my knees hidden under the desk. Because despite how ridiculous Part 3 was, I didn't actually hate either of the protagonists, so I wanted them to live happily ever after because on the one hand I'm an enormous sap. However, on the other hand I'm a reader/writer who enjoys dark endings.
So if it had ended happily, I would have been glad for the characters and written a bad review of this part.
It didn't end happily, though, so I'm a bit sad for the characters and am writing a favorable review of this part.
3 stars, for being a decent-enough resolution.

(SPOILERIFIC NOTE: Awesome Chest Guy shows up on a motorcycle dressed all in black with his Golden-Red Hair Blowing In The Wind and there is a huge chase scene before he sacrifices himself so Lena can escape. Everyone loves Awesome Chest Guy.)

Overall: It's a good book, and I enjoyed it. Part 1 ruled at being Awesome Dystopia, Part 2 was good enough, Part 3 was fun to laugh at, and it was also successful at being "hooray perfect love story make the non-cynical people jealous" (and while I wasn't busy being cynical, I may have liked it), and Part 4 wasn't a sell-out.

So 3.5 stars overall. 

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