Short Review on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/530937727
I’m taking a break from angels, and from paranormal romance in general, to tackle the might of the other bandwagon, one I’m more personally familiar with as it’s the one I’ve jumped on. Yes, we’ll be looking at a dystopian romance today, the infamous Delirium—in which love is a disease.
(Something I could have told you that from reading those paranormal romances.)
Anyway, the cover I have on my Kindle shows us the looming generic face of a generic girl.
And… we’re off!
We begin with our main character, Lena, who repeats the premise of the story for those of us who decided to read a random book without seeing what it was about first. She’s going to get cured of ‘love’ in three months…
Well, we actually begin with a proverb from the ‘Book of Shhh’. (So, this is what results from a society that uses Hush, Hush as their holy book?) A quick read ahead tells me there are fictional quotes such as these at the beginning of every chapter. Okay, so, worldbuilding. That’s fine, we haven’t had much worldbuilding in the previous two books so maybe we’re in for an improvement.
Lena tells us that the cure for love only works on people aged eighteen or over, for, you know, reasons. Of course! Don’t you know anything about science? Well, it seems that the oppressive government does not, in fact, know anything about science since they think heart disease and bipolar disorder are caused by love.
We’re told more then, about how people who aren’t cured are all crazy self-mutilators who’ll kill themselves rather than give up love, so the whole curing love thing is sounding like a pretty sensible idea round about now. Hey, Nora? Evie? I have something for you!
Well, that was a nice infodump—on with the story!
Lena stops her little cousin from eating orange peel, in what are actually well-written passages… until the girl’s backstory starts being explained. Grace, the little girl, is the daughter of Lena’s cousin Marcie, who married a guy suspected of being a ‘sympathiser’, who then disappeared, and Marcie died of a heart attack (yeah, curing love sure did stop heart disease, huh?). Mm, clunky exposition, yum.
So Lena is hoping for a good evaluation so she can get a good husband with lots of money. Obviously she can’t earn money herself because of… reasons. Also, her mother committed suicide. I must say, these are some of the best written infodumps I’ve ever read! I can’t wait for something to actually happen!
But first we must be told about how marriage happens in this world. To prevent sexytiems, girls and boys are kept separate, because that’s always worked so well. Then Lena leaves the house. Fun times.
This chapter’s quote is a psalm that mixes mythologies. I hate mixed mythologies 😡
Before Lena’s evaluation she’s given a pep talk by her aunt to prepare for the gruelling questions ahead. Questions like:
“What… is your name?”
“What… is your quest?”
“What… is your favourite colour?”
Don’t worry, it’s the author, not me who’s making the obvious reference to Holy Grail… at least, I assume that’s what she’s doing, unless we’re supposed to take the evaluators asking Lena what her favourite colour is as srs bizness.
More exposition is given, and while I don’t hold the old ‘show, don’t tell’ as sacred and unbreakable, I do like me at least some showing in me books. This is going to get worse though, isn’t it?
Never mind, Best Friend Character Hana shows up to have an ‘as you already know’ conversation with Lena, then get taken away, telling her ‘you can never be happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes’, which is really deep and meaningful. For realz.
This chapter’s quote implies that Christian mythology plays a big role in the culture of Delirium-land, which confuses me as love plays such an important role in said mythology.
Speaking of which, while the characters are obviously living in an Orwellian Nightmare-land, the whole being unable to love thing really doesn’t seem to make them act that differently to regular people. Except for those parents who kill their children—that never happens in the real world! And Lena talks about how glad she is that husbands are chosen for you since she’s not super-duper beautiful and therefore would never have gotten a boyfriend otherwise. Of course.
The evaluators ask Lena some super-boring questions, which is livened up by—you guessed it—more exposition, this time about Lena’s mother failing to be cured and going mental. Then Lena accidentally calls ‘Romeo and Juliet’ beautiful, which proves she has such poor taste in Shakespearean literature that the Evaluators turn on her.
Then a stampede of cows comes into the room, sent by La Resistance in protest for the whole cure-to-love thing. How do we know the rebels sent them? Why, Lena’s kind enough to give us another infodump, of course!
And Lena catches sight of a member of said resistance, a boy so annoying he hasn’t even said anything and he’s already loathsome.
Yes—he’s the love interest.
Lena has nightmares which are comforted by her dumb cousin Grace (dumb in both senses of the word). She exposits for us that there’s nothing actually wrong with Grace, she’s just a normal little girl who never speaks, like all little girls.
A bunch of boring talking happens, giving me a vision of a slightly-better-written-Inescapable, before Lena and Hana go into some place they’re not supposed to while out running, where they meet Alex, the love interest.
He’s a part-time security guard… and that’s about it. The rest of the chapter is just boring talking. It goes on. And on. And on.
Our quote for this chapter is a Delirium-land nursery rhyme, and it’s pretty dumb—but not as dumb as Grace, lol!
Lena moons over her one true love who she’s met once and shoves in some more exposition. It isn’t quite as bad here—something I’d ordinarily accept or even appreciate, but I just took a look out into my camel pen, and I’m not sure how many more straws old Patch can take.
She goes to a secret sunset-watching thing, stopping off for a bit of false tension and to add the ticking clock of curfew to the bottom of the page—but I doubt anything will happen this early on in the book.
Then she watches the sunset and cries. SYMBOLISM! /Equilibrium.
No, wait… Equilibrium actually made more sense than this.
Lena tells us she was named Magdalena after Mary Magdalene, who in Delirium-land’s cut-and-paste mythology was some nutter who almost succumbed to love until God saved her. Lena’s as confused as I am as to why her uncured mother would name her that.
She goes to a party and mentions some of her classmates who used to be awkward and shy, but now because they’ve been cured of love are confident and poised. Because love makes you a spaz, I guess? Some girl who was caught in-love has gone for her procedure early and her family is being harassed, because people are afraid of widespread love epidemics.
So, love is a communicable disease? Is it spread by midichlorians?
The book’s been put on fast-forward mode now, speeding through their dull graduation until Lena’s sister Rachel shows up to be extra boring. And really—what would you expect from someone called Rachel?
(That’s funny, because Rachel is my name, lol!)
This chapter starts off with a prayer to the periodic table of elements, which I guess is what they do in Delirium-land, because it’s the dumbest thing they—I mean, because science is so loveless and evil. Of course, don’t you know anything about love?
Lena goes to see Hana, and we know their relationship is super-strong, because Hana gave Lena the security code to her house, and then threatened to kill her. Well, we all know that means twu wuv, so this book just got a whole lot more interesting! And Hana loves Lena because she’s for real, yo!
Hana has found her way into some La Resistance websites, and is listening to some La Resistance music, which means we get another infodump of how the interwebz works in Delirium-land. Hang in there, Patch!
Anyway, Hana is a sympathiser, oh noes, so sad. They have an Antigone/Ismene-type conversation as Hana wants to go to some La Resistance party, Lena points out that angering the evil overlords might not be such a good idea, but Hana says ‘give me liberty or give me death’, and Lena runs out crying.
Ah, a quarter of the way through the book; what have we learned? Delirium-land is dumb, and I doubt there’s going to be any forthcoming explanation as to how the overlords got into power, unless it involves harnessing the power of the plot hole from ‘To Boldly Flee’.
Lena reminisces about her crazy old mother, who did things like dancing, which apparently you get cured of along with love—sorry Mum, no more Strictly Come Dancing for you! (thank god). Then she decides to go to the party after all and spends page after boring page getting there.
She meets up with Lena and her friend Drew—a boy!—and there’s alcohol, so we know we’re at the cool kids’ party. But Lena’s not a cool kid yet, so she leaves, but bumps into insta-love interest on her way out. They converse, and it turns out he’s a creepy stalker who’s been watching her for months—that’ll give Hana a run for her money!
They do some dancing—scandalous! And then Lena agrees to see Alex tomorrow.
Lena and Alex have their first proper date, and here’s where I think this book is really on to something—on. And on. And on.
There’s more wangsting over suicide-mom… things happen… Delirium-land continues to not make any sense (this book has a logic hole in it as well, doesn’t it?) as apparently everyone knows Lena’s backstory except Alex, even though her mother’s case was like, famous or something? How many people live in Delirium-land anyway?
And then Alex reveals, shock of all shocks, that he’s not really cured! And he’s not even from Delirium-land either, but from La Resistance! I never saw it coming!
So Lena decides to do as the evaluators do and take a strategy from Holy Grail. You know the one—
This chapter’s quote shows us that the children of Delirium-land are too stupid to know what a border is, and have to be told that they’re like hats, which is one of the dumbest analogies since the crew of Voyager broke through that crack in the event horizon. Also people have to scrub up to make sure they don’t contract any of those love midichlorians!
Lena gifts us with some more backstory exposition about how Rachel fell in love just before she was cured and turned into a raving lunatic. Lena is apparently also succumbing to insanity, warning the audience not to listen if the ‘past’ talks to them.
Mum! The voices are back!
After that she just becomes more boring than before, putting the story back on fast-forward so we can go through her evaluation and matching (why would the loveless society even have marriage? Wouldn’t in vitro with a good genetic match—different for every child you have so Delirium-land continues to have a good gene pool—make more sense?) And then her husband is picked for her. Fun times.
We finally learned who came up with the cure to love, and it was…
…Sherlock Holmes! Dun dun dun!
No, not really, the guy’s name was Cormac Holmes, though I wouldn’t have put it past Sherlock. Maybe he used a pseudonym? Anyway, he was one of the first worshippers of the Delirium-land Holy Trinity of God, Science and Order, which sounds like something Christian Fundamentalists would come up with for a strawman-atheist dystopia…
Well, fuck my donkey! That’s exactly what this is, isn’t it? As I said before, love—in particular the love of God—is a cornerstone of the Christian religion, and in America the conflict between science and ‘God’s love’ is well known. This is meant to be a dig at those of us who lack spiritualism and put our trust in science rather than ‘love’! I see what u did thar, Lauren Oliver!
And you have the audacity to paint us as the religious fanatics! But the joke’s on you, because real hardline atheists would never use ‘what is your favourite colour?’ as a question on a personality evaluation, unless the next question was ‘what is the average flight speed of an unladen swallow?’! Ha-ha!
Anyway, Hana shows up to have a boring conversation with Lena. They’re drifting apart because neither of them is smart enough to figure out how to keep being friends. And probably because of science too.
(Continued in Part II)