Reviewed by Lindsay Denninger -

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

    Young Adult Fiction
    HarperCollins - August 2, 2011
    ISBN 978-0062112439, $11.49 (hardcover)


Summer is a time for relaxing by the pool, soaking up the sun, and well, letting your brain go a little bit on vacation. I am a fan of the "beach read" in this case—bodice rippers, juicy detective novels, or whatever else you'd fancy. My summer reading usually falls into the much-maligned genre of Young Adult fiction. But there's no Twilight here, folks—the YA Fiction available today, vampires be damned, is well-written, well thought out, and simply just as good as the regular stuff.

Lauren Oliver's Delirium is a stunning second novel by a promising new(er) author. Opening in a dystopian world similar to that of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, protagonist Lena Haloway's life has been planned out according to the rules of the government. In Lena's world, love—dubbed "deliria" —is forbidden, considered a mental defect by the ruling powers, and all eighteen-year-olds undergo a procedure to "cure" them. Careers and spouses are given to all citizens by the government. As Lena tries to hide the scars of her mother's suicide and accept the life she will be given, she meets Alex, a young man who makes her heart flutter. As Lena's relationship with Alex grows, she begins to doubt the powers that be. Will she follow the life she is to be given? Or will she challenge everything she's ever known?

Delirium is undoubtedly a fast read, yet this speed doesn't mean it lacks quality. Oliver's pacing of the novel keeps readers perched on their chairs, leading up to an eventual twist ending that, frankly, I didn't see coming. Powerful and gripping, Oliver stirs up questions about the true meanings of love, sacrifice, and obedience. With sharply-written prose and a well-rounded female protagonist (a rarity with the Bella Swans of the literary world) the story of Delirium is relatable in the most basic way: how far would you go for love?