If you’re a fan of dystopians (The Hunger Games, Divergent, Matched) and forbidden romance, then you will probably like this series by Lauren Oliver.
Delirium: In this future version of the United States, love or the “deliria” is a deadly disease, one that you are inoculated against when you turn 18 unless there are special circumstances that require it sooner. If taken before 18, there is a likely chance you could die in the process. Lena Haloway is a sheltered orphaned seventeen-year-old girl taken in by her aunt’s family living in Portland, Maine. She is content with her life and is looking forward to her cure, even if she is still scared, until she meets Alex. Despite her best efforts to remain neutral to him and the daredevil life her best friend Hana is carrying on, she can no longer ignore him when he saves her life and they share a common secret. Through her growing relationship with Alex, Lena learns that love is not the disease, it’s apathy that is the disease that causes unhappy, empty, and violent lives. With help from Alex, she is determined to escape it and find out what really happened to her mother, who was cured multiple times and supposedly committed suicide for love of her father.
Pandemonium: Finally outside the society of Portland, this book follows Lena as she lives a two-part life, one with the Invalids, those people who are cast out or illegal citizens, meaning they are not cureds. She is in the Wilds and learns to adapt to life outside of her former controlled world, but this new freedom isn’t easy. There is not enough food, there is always a threat of danger, and the people are all damaged from their life experiences with the cureds and the law. She must rebuild herself into a new Lena, a stronger Lena, and when she does she is granted a mission, for the Invalids are trying to show the society that they are wrong. The mission doesn’t turn out the way Lena expected, and love cracks her protective shell once again.
There is also a short novella about the series, Hana, available through Amazon Kindle. (I have not read this yet, but I want to!)
My thoughts on the series: This seems to be a psychological mind game and survival adventure rolled into one. The focus, for Lena, is not on romance or rebellion or really survival. It is finding out who she is and who she wants to be, mainly as someone who embraces that love is not a disease. This theme of self-discovery is a popular one for YA literature and one I think readers will find to be the most intense draw when it comes to this series. Lena seems to be as confused as many of us are, and when she is hurt, she finds a way to protect herself from being hurt again and move on, whether from a desire to seek vengeance or to distract her from her pain. Her life is a balance of safety and of necessary choice. She chooses to live the truth, and consequently the life of danger peril, instead of the safe (the things that are known), which is entirely a lie. She also just wants to know her mother, know her history and who she is, but also contribute something to the world she believes in. This is also something many teens will identify with, that great desire to belong and live working together for a common good.
While I think this book is thought provoking, I don’t believe it is as infectiously captivating as The Hunger Games or Divergent. Lena is so hard to relate to, even if you are a relatively good/safe girl. She just doesn’t gain much of a personality until she’s just so full of hurt and anger. Somewhat related but not, I am having this problem with my own heroine that I am writing. Coincidence? Possibly. But I think readers like a main character is who has personality and charm so much more than a confused one, so while I criticize, I also acknowledge that I too struggle writing a main character who can stand on her own.
P.S. Ironic that my bookmark for reading these novels says, “The heart that loves is always young.”
Rating: Good read! I did buy them, but I just didn’t absolutely fall in love/addiction…