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Delirium: The Complete Series by Lauren Oliver
Synopsis of Delirium (book 1):
Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.
Delirium is one of my favorite first books in a trilogy. The build up and the crescendo is just so entertaining and the end! The end is one of the most traumatic, explosive and beautiful endings I have ever read. There is just something so amazing, poetic and romantic about it. It spoke directly to my fangirl heart. It left me with anticipation and a feeling that the series I was going to read was epic.
Unfortunately, like almost every other dystopian series I’ve read…it does not live up to its potential.
Delirium is smart, because it’s simple. It’s just about a girl who lives in a world without love that meets a boy who she cannot help but love. That is what Delirium, at it’s core, is about. We know there’s a struggle, we know that there’s a vicious government and that there is a resistance out there somewhere, but that’s on the peripheral. Which gives us the chance to get to know Lena. Her fears, her happiness and her loves. The simplicity of Delirium makes the world work.
Unfortunately, in Pandemonium, we lose that simplicity. Because in Pandemonium we are in the wilds, in the resistance and in the thick of a society that still works but is a little harder to swallow. The series as a whole is harder to believe once you get to book 2, because Lena goes from just a regular girl to this warrior who can escape many captors and is capable of fighting her way in and out of any situation. I liked the evolution but it was too fast without any real context. We never see Lena learning to fight, we never experience any kind of training so why all of a sudden is a normal high school girl capable of fitting in to any army regiment?
Then there is the notion of love in Ms. Oliver’s world. Here’s the thing, Lena lives in a world where love has been eradicated. It’s a disease and the government has figured out how to stomp it out. Which is what makes the appearance of Alex in Delirium so epic and the appearance of Julian in Pandemonium kind of a slap in the face. Love in Lena’s world is hard won and even harder fought. This series did not need a love triangle. If the point is the importance of love. If it’s about how important love is even through pain then it needed to be strong, epic, unbreakable and able to withstand death. No mere mortal should be able to shake it up, threaten it or come in-between it.
The love triangle that puts a cloud over Lena’s life made no real sense and seemed to be there just because YA readers seem to like love triangles. Honestly, I wish we could get out of the shadow of Edward, Bella and Jacob. Seriously, two guys are not needed! How often is one girl given the choice between two perfect males? Hardly ever, so let’s get over it and move on.
Especially, since Julian’s set up does not pay off in Requiem. In Pandemonium he is the son of one of the countries most powerful men. He is also a big advocate of the cure with a large following of young people, aka the uncured. His power and influence is never again used. The resistance doesn’t use his public speaking talent, his influence over people who can be converted to his side or even his celebrity. Honestly, someone tell me what the point of that guy is besides to showcase Lena’s evolution which is already clear by the end of book 1.
Finally, in Requiem I sorrowfully read while everything I loved about Delirium seemed to go away and disintegrate under a world that the author could not juggle equally. Don’t get me wrong, there are great moments in all three books. I cheered for the characters until the very end, but that’s the problem, there is no end. Lauren Oliver did not wrap up a single storyline.
Requiem is the perfect example of why I am not a big dystopia fan. They all fall apart under the convolution of the world. There is no way to realistically finish these stories. The countries and societies cannot completely fall apart or be rebuilt in one book. There can be no real solution besides a vague sense of hope that the future can be happy and free, but that’s often not enough for me. I don’t spend hours of my life for a finale of hope, I read for an ending. It doesn’t all have to be wrapped up but after I have watched ppl kill, die, struggle and fight for their lives I need to know they will more than survive, I need to know they will live. I need to believe in a future where they can finally be ok. Not only does Requiem fail to give us a conclusion to the growing war for love (which I expected), it didn’t give us a finale on anything.
Besides the dead characters we have no idea what will happen to anyone. We don’t know who Lena will end up with, even though we have a strong hint who it will be, there is still doubt. We don’t know where Hana will end up. We don’t know if the books biggest villain is actually dead or what will happen in the aftermath of the rebels last stand. It’s all up in the air and it left me angry.
To add insult to injury, it ends with a narration that directly speaks to the reader. It’s meant to inspire and push the reader to live a full life without walls, but it’s too much. Reason being the entire trilogy is an allegory for embracing love, for acceptance and a warning against living your life as cattle. So, there’s no reason for direct reference. The reader is not stupid. We can read between the lines, no reason to paint an entire picture for us.
At the end of the day I loved Delirium and that book alone is worth picking up the series.
Recommended for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.