February 2011

When falling in love means breaking all the rules

By Lauren Oliver
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Lena Haloway is a typical 17-year-old girl. She loves hanging out with her best friend, Hana. She likes to go for long runs and spend time on the beach, and she reluctantly performs household chores for her aunt. She is anxiously awaiting her next birthday, because she is looking forward to being “cured.”

In other words, Lena Haloway is a typical 17-year-old girl in a future United States where love is considered a disease, and everyone is cured—via brain surgery—on their 18th birthdays.

Since it is too dangerous (likely deadly) to have the surgery prior to full maturity, kids hope not to be afflicted with “the deliria” before being cured. Symptoms of “amor deliria nervosa” include difficulty focusing, periods of euphoria and despair, erratic behavior and even emotional or physical paralysis. It’s not hard to understand why the government identified love as a disease and a threat to humanity.

Yet when Lena herself falls in love—the thing she has always dreaded—the deliria forces her to question everything she has been taught. Is love really a life-threatening disease? Or is it actually the most wonderful experience a person can have?

Lena must face her fear and decide if she is strong enough to defy overwhelming authority. Will she risk everything for love, and will she actually find that the binds of her dystopian society are more suffocating than protecting? As author Lauren Oliver answers these gripping questions within the pages of her second novel, the reader is transported to a futuristic world filled with oppression and abusive control.

In this intense and exciting page-turner, Oliver more than lives up to the promise of her acclaimed debut, Before I Fall. Her sophomore novel is a big genre departure from her first, but the artfulness of her prose and her ability to build excruciating tension are still very much present in Delirium.

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By Lauren Oliver
ISBN 9780061726828

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