A lot of people tend to dislike reading Young Adult Fiction, however, I love YA. I feel like they are becoming grittier and they are also a great read for escapism. I have to say that sometimes literature gets a bit too heavy for me, or becomes to personally linked to issues I am currently having, so YA is the way forward in moments like this. So the Delirium series came at a great time for me!
Onto the review!
Let me just start by saying, this is my first whole series review, and I am really nervous that this will become a really long post, but here we go! The premise of the series is a semi-dystopian type trilogy, in which Love is considered a disease and at the age of 18 everyone is given a treatment, reminiscent somewhat of a full frontal lobotomy, in which they remove the ability to love from people. People who contract the disease are imprisoned or killed and the novel follows Lena, the daughter of a woman that became sick with love and her discovery that love is actually worth fighting for. So much cheese, I am aware, but I am a cheesy person, what can I say?!
Overall, I really enjoyed the series. I felt like Lena was a really likable and relatable character, I liked that as a protagonist she wasn’t perfect and was often described as short and having soft curves but being considered beautiful. This inclusivity of body type was really welcoming in a female protagonist, so I am really pleased that Oliver decided to break the stereotype here. However, there were some problems with the series, so I am going to break this down into each novel.
Delirium follows Lena as she struggles with the idea of accepting that she is going to take this cure when she turns 18, however she seems to fail the test, showing a disposition for becoming clinically insane – or simply falling in love. She then meets a boy called Alex and they fall in love and plan to flee the city to be able to live together in the Wilds and love each other freely. The book started off a bit slow for me, but I ended up persevering and enjoying it very much. I did think that Alex was a bit flat as a character, too easy to love. He needed to be a bit more flawed for me as a character. I have to say, the great escape at the end was a huge deal, and I was truly devastated when Alex did not get over the fence.
I also really wanted to love Lena a lot, but felt she was quite a tedious character that was only interesting because of her love interest. However, in hindsight, I felt like that was the point, that Lena could not be a full character without a full understanding of her emotions and the ability to live fully. The novel was fun, but the last 100 or so pages made it for me. The revelation that had slowly been hinted that her mother was still alive and in prison, Lena’s decision to escape and live in exile so she could be free, that really saved the book.
THE BEST BOOK IN THE SERIES! We followed Lena as she found herself wandering alone in the Wilds. She ends up not being in the same place Alex had shown her in the first book, but a group of people saves her. They are organising a revolution to stop the cure being processed and given to people.
Lena really developed as a character in this novel. She suffered, cried, tried to die, got her act together and became a force to be reckoned with. Now a valued member of the revolution, Lena is given a mission and really become a brave, all thinking person who makes mistakes and deals with the consequences. She suddenly transformed into a young woman filled with resilience, something we only try to get our young students to aspire to. Lena became a hero here, a character that I could truly love.
In book 2 we also meet Julian, the son of the head of the federation that issues out the cure. Julian again, is FAR BETTER as a character than Alex. He is born to believe that he should have the cure but has never felt right about it. He has a blind sense of loyalty for a father that is violent, especially more so since having the cure himself. However, he battles with his inner desire for freedom. He and Lena meet under the most negative of circumstances, having been kidnapped together, but they understand each other. They are both people that see how the cure can be seen as beneficial, but they know deep down that to not accept emotion is even worse.
Julian and Lena help each other through hell, they save each other both mentally and physically, from their kidnappers. They are partners, not one of them is a leading figure in the relationship and it is a healthy love. Consuming and true, but also balanced, honest, based on a trust that has been built from the most awful of circumstances. I love Julian so much as a character, he is the sort of best friend character that needs to be a leading male figure, because he is flawed but most of all, he thinks. A character with thought is always great. Oliver really did it for me with this book, I was truly hooked!
How things went down hill…
Let me tell you, the only thing that is salvageable in this novel is Hannah’s narrated section. We really get to see how things have continued in the city since the riots have began, and we also get to see what life is like from the perspective of a cured individual. Oliver here created an environment that was really fascinating to see as we know that the cureds have a sort of distorted, clouded view of a peachy clean reality, and it is truly fascinating. The final novel was truly saved by this perspective and it was great.
But here is where it all went wrong… Alex is alive! Yay! In a way, but Lauren introduced a really irritating, cliched, over-done love triangle between Lena, Alex and Julian. Furthermore, Alex is an idiot THE ENTIRE NOVEL. He seduces another girl, BLATANTLY TO MAKE LENA JEALOUS, he also scorns her for having had a life and having tried to move on, when he was SHOT on a fence, and presumed dead, EVEN I THOUGHT HE WAS DEAD. He then goes onto having unnecessary demonstrations of male bravado with Julian. Let me tell you, if I liked Alex in the first novel I despised him now. Also, the part that fueled my rage further was the fact that Lena was actually torn! She knew that he was behaving in such an unacceptable way, he was being such an impossibly difficult character to live with. He did not even try to understand her point of view at all, when all she tried to do was be kind to him. AND RESPECTFUL, because she made sure to never be around Julian when Alex was nearby. Men.
And, to make things even worse, Julian was actually a gentleman about the whole situation! He never, EVER forced her to make a decision, or accused her of luring him out here into the Wilds and then leaving him. He understood perfectly how torn she was. She who had become such a strong fascinating character, became a feeble figment of her former self. HOW IRRITATING! I really hate it when a character is complex and built well, and then it is all thrown away! The love triangle trope was unnecessary, mostly because if this is a novel about love and accepting feelings and emotions of loss etc, then Alex should have died! He would have been loved and remembered as a man that changed a world, creating one of the most important figures in the revolution. But no!
I have to say, Oliver’s saving grace was the fact that Lena did not pick. She loved them both, differently though, and I would like to believe that she had the good sense of going for the companionship, trust and understanding that Julian offered, because otherwise, Lauren’s observation that love is complicated, and humans have different emotional needs at different phases of life, is flawed! We may all awaken our ability to love by an Alex, but deeply, we all want a Julian!
I still recommend this series as a read, especially book 2! And I bought these at the Works, but I am sure you can find them on Amazon, Foyles and Waterstones too!