Honest and lively YA book reviews
"Symptoms of Amor Delirium Nervosa
preoccupation; difficulty focusing
perspiration, sweaty palms
fits of dizziness and disorientation
reduced mental awareness; racing thoughts; impaired
periods of euphoria; hysterical laughter and heightened
periods of despair; lethargy
changes in appetite; rapid weight loss or weight gain
fixation; loss of other interests
compromised reasoning skills; distortion of reality
disruption of sleep patterns; insomnia or constant fatigue
obsessive thoughts and actions
Phase Three (Critical)
pain in the chest, throat or stomach
difficulty swallowing; refusal to eat
complete breakdown of rational faculties; erratic behaviour;
violent thoughts and fantasies; hallucinations and
Phase Four (Fatal)
emotional or physical paralysis (partial or total)
Yep - in Lauren Oliver's world, love is fatal.
17 year old Lena has lived her whole life in fear of the disease Amor Delirium Nervosa (that's love to you and I guys .....) which she has been brainwashed into believing is highly contagious, dangerous and potentially fatal. She has also been educated that this disease can be permanently cured by a "simple lobotomy", which all guys and gals must have performed as a legal requirement as close to their 18th birthday as possible. Lena accepted this as life - controlled, planned, calculated, unfeeling life - until she meets Alex, a street smart, well read, motorbike owning, "uncured", fake security guard (yeah, just go with it ....) who shows her that love is not dangerous, but beautiful.
So basically, Lena is preparing to have a chunk of her brain removed which will prevent her from feeling any love, passion, desire or drive. This is the big stumbling block. Why are the people of America accepting this fate?! Initially, I felt the premise was interesting but it wore very thin, very quickly because it's simply too fantastical to believe. I'm just not buying that the majority of people are content to surrender their brains for tampering. I would love to know what the hell is going on in the rest of the world while the American government creates a country populated by mindless shells. Why is no-one standing up and shouting about how wrong this is?! These people are forgoing their creativity, their curiosity, their ambition in the name of prevention of some imaginary disease dreamed up by their government to control and suppress their citizens. How did this happen?! I would love to know how this debacle began. People aren't just going to wake up one morning and decide that a basic human emotion is now the root of all evil and must be annihilated. How did the government ever convince the people that yes, this in fact is the case, and they should now have a piece of their brain sliced out to solve the problem?! I just can't wrap my head around the logistics of Lauren Oliver's world. I don't usually have a problem accepting whatever bizarre premise an author cares to present in dystopian fiction. I think it's a great genre for exploring some interesting ideas and trying on some "what ifs" for size, but Delirium crossed a line. It was just too absurd, too ridiculous and I just couldn't set logic aside this time and roll with it.
For a novel with such a wacky premise, you'd imagine it'd be super interesting, filled with twisty twists and turns, some leaping around shrouded in mystery and intrigue with plenty of dark, intense stares and clipped, hushed tones. Right? Right?! Uh uh. Nope. This book is dull. The middle particularly is almost abusively boring. Like, I felt an urge to just pace. The book made me restless. The problem is the story comes out in a rush at the beginning and then again at the end, so there's nothing to do in the middle except sit and stare at the wall. There's so much information being crammed down our throats in the first 100 pages or so that it's kinda hard to breathe. We learn about the disease and the cure, the fate of Lena's mother and father, her family history, the layout of her goddam town - ENOUGH! Just give us a minute to digest! Jeez ..... I hate this info dumping as it just settles us in for a long and boring ride the test of the journey. All the important need-to-know information was shot at us so fast we had nothing to do the rest of the story except lie there, blinking and bleeding all over the floor. I mean there are pages and pages and pages of Lena staring at the sky, Lena agonising over her mother, Lena staring at the ocean, Lena staring at Alex. There's only so much staring I can take Ms Oliver, please have your characters do something, I'm dying over here!
The end was mental. Intense and mental. There's no other way to describe it. I was completely blindsided. It was literally like a different book. It's like I'd been sailing on a calm ocean for around 250 pages when all of a sudden a freak wave appeared from literally nowhere and capsized my entire ship. Like, what?!
The characterisation was meh. Lena was alright I guess. She was pretty slow on the uptake for the most part which irritated me. I mean, we're following her along and everything is being spelled out, and enunciated very s-l-o-w-l-y and c-l-e-a-r-l-y despite the fact that I figured out exactly what was going on about two chapters back but it's taken Lena that long to catch up. C'mon girl! Use that brain! Alex was alright as far as YA love interests go. He was sweet enough and despite leading Lena into danger multiple times, he appeared to care for her. Hana was pretty neat. She maybe would have been more interesting to read about as a main character than Lena. She was feisty and lively with her own mind. She was able to think for herself, with imagination and ambition. Sadly, she kinda eclipsed Lena somewhat. Hana was shiny and illuminated, where Lena was sort of tarnished and faded. Yeah. Sorry Lena. Maybe get duller friends ..... ?!
I was so torn how to rate this book. But at the end of the day it was too mind numbingly slow to give more than two stars to. I now have the drive to go tomb-stoning or maybe free-running to inject some life back into me having had most of it sucked out by Delirium. So I'll see you guys later!