World-Building Fails and Cliche Plotlines ~ Let’s Discuss Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing.

They didn’t understand that once love — the deliria — blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Let's Discuss


Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Format & Pages: Paperback, 441

Published: Feb 27th 2012 by Harper Collins

Source: Providence Public Libraries

Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ☆ 

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COVER REVIEW: It looks way too much like a romance novel.

Overall Feeling 1

An unbelievable world, but a gripping story once you’ve slogged through about half of the book.

The Characters

11800141_992292507472038_9056294792769439478_nLena is our main character. I appreciate that she’s been living in this strange society that brainwashes her to go against all of her instincts and not love anyone, and therefore she’s very scared and second-guesses herself a lot. However, early on in the book she starts realizing that something is really wrong with the government system. She comes to terms with how she feels about love being a disease, and she eventually becomes a sympathizer/rebel. If she can do that so easily (and she starts even before ‘dream-boy’ comes into the story), then how come this entire government hasn’t been overrun by now? If everyone in the country feels this ‘wrongness’ before the surgery at 18, then I can’t help but feel that something would’ve happened by now.

Alex is Lena’s love interest. There was WAY too much insta-love going on with these two, and I didn’t buy it or enjoy it at all. Alex had no personality flaws, no troubling feelings, no characterization AT ALL! It didn’t make sense. I can’t express how annoyed this romance made me. The whole ‘falling-in-love’ part of the story was, frankly, boring as f**k. I couldn’t help but view it in my head as a montage from a cheesy chick-flick, with lots of dappled sunlight and laughter and sand castles. And it was the MAIN PART of the story!

Hana is Lena’s best friend, and she was my favorite. I feel like the sassy, truth-speaking BFF is also becoming a cliche in the YA genre, but I enjoyed her all the same. She was funny, and thankfully provided a spark of light amidst all the romance.

The Plot

Delirium-quotes-delirium-31385488-250-250So we have this dystopian world where love is considered a disease. And not just romantic love, because this society refuses to make any sense at all. No, maternal love is also bad, along with just regular old affection for friends and pets. If you are caught saying the word ‘love’, or expressing any kind of sentiment, then you will instantly be clubbed on the back of the head and potentially killed (which is a bit extreme, right?) When you turn eighteen years old, you have neuro-surgery that somehow prevents love from permeating your body (also, this is never explained in detail), and you are cured and safe to other people. When Lena Tiddle/Holoway (who’s last name belongs in a children’s story) meets a boy who lied about being cured, she instantly falls in love and he opens her eyes to the dangers of never experiencing love again. Will she stay with her non-loving family, or run away with this hot guy?

‘This plot was ridiculous, and obviously just a premise for a forbidden romance Twilight-style.’ 

That is what a ton of reviews of this book have said. And I agree with them very much. In The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the plot reflects just as much on the corrupt government as the romance & characters. Now, The Hunger Games does have some forbidden romance, but I think it’s a good example of how you have to walk that line between writing about the characters too much, and vice versa. Lauren Oliver fumbled that up, and we got way too much of the character’s stories without the setting and ‘corrupt government’ being explained clearly.

The whole story was boring and cliche for about 200 pages, and I seriously considered DNF’ing it. But then that twist came in, and things got going. The rest of the book really hooked me, and the ending was such a subtle cliffhanger! That’s where Lauren Oliver got me. I just have to continue with this series, because I’ve honestly started caring about Lena and her family. So, not everything is bad. 🙂

Pros and ConsTHIS WAS GOOD 

-Lena’s character was plausible


-Grace, Lena’s autistic sister (because she’s my namesake, and also very sweet in the story)

-The huge plot pickup

-The Crypts (very creepy)


-Alex (aka hot-dreamy-perfect-adorable-cliche)

-The world-building

-The insta-love

-The writing (it was a little cheesy at times)

Final Thoughts

I guess I didn’t totally dislike it. I definitely thought I was going to hate it, but it turned out pretty good, and I’m excited for Pandemonium. I just really hope the holes in the plot are filled and that we get some more world-building.

RATING:  ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ 


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Lauren Oliver is an American author of the New York Times bestselling YA novels Before I Fall, which was published in 2010; Panic; and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium and Requiem, which have been translated into more than thirty languages. She is a 2012 E.B. White Read-Aloud Award nominee for her middle-grade novel Liesl & Po, as well as author of the fantasy middle-grade novel The Spindlers. Panic, which was published in March 2014, has been optioned by Universal Pictures in a major deal. Academically, Lauren graduated from the University of Chicago, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She also has a degree from New York University’s MFA program. With Lexa Hillyer, she is co-founder of the boutique literary development company Paper Lantern Lit. Visit her online.


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