Wednesday, February 2, 2011

if love makes me sick, at least i'll still be human.

Interesting, but I like the ARC cover better.
Here's the post where I talk about Delirium, by Lauren Oliver.

First of all, I know I read an "Advanced Readers' Edition: Not For Sale," which means that some changes were probably made before the final final final version (like, the cover), so take what I say with half a grain of salt.  But only half.

The major premise of this book is that love is seen as a curable sickness rather than an God-given instinct.  Sounds terrifying, right?  Well, it definitely was.  One thing that has always bothered me about dystopian novels--that kept me from enjoying Brave New World and even tripped me up while reading The Giver--was the blazing frustration of:  Seriously, this would never happen.  Why are we even stressing out about it?  I think we can all agree that that was part of what made The Hunger Games so great: the realness.  The proclivity of humanity to possibly, actually, maybe progress that way.  The world in Delirium did not seem quite as possible, because, honestly, who would agree to a mandated transition from loving your children to feeling nothing but apathy toward them?  I mean, that's barely even human.  I suppose that was the point.

That's another thing that gets me about dystopian.  You want to fight so hard for what the characters believe in--what you believe in--but all you're really fighting for is something that makes you so innately human that it can never be taken away.  Makes the whole thing seem a little moot, to me.  But it works for the same reason:  Readers love having something to fight for.

Anyway, Delirium.  Things I liked:  The relationship between the main character and her best friend, the color of the boy's hair, the ending (no spoiling from me!), the "literature" at the beginning of every chapter, and the way the main character got around to figuring everything out.

Sigh.  I really liked that I had something to fight for (see above), but it bothered me that the first thing on Lena's mind was her romantic love and not the horror of losing all emotion.  I mean, it was there, but at the end (spoiler alert?) when she was deciding to stand up for herself, her reasoning was all I heart this boy, and not, uh,  Hey, this is one sick way to live if a parent can't even console their own child, which is what had been plaguing my mind the whole time.  That was my only real, major complaint, but it made sense to be that way.  I kept reminding myself that I was reading a seventeen-year-old girl, not a twenty-something-year-old woman.  Then I got frustrated even further, though, because I am pretty sure that at seventeen I still would have felt worse about the bigger picture.  Of course, I was never in love in high school.

I don't know.  Maybe it was just the way the people in that world had altered everything from the past, even religion, to serve their purposes.  I kept waiting for Lena to learn that God taught love, not warned against it, because I know that's where my motivation would have been as a teenager.  But that would have made an entirely different story.  That's what I told Joshua when I finished the book:  I was really intrigued by the world (as improbable as it was), but I would have maybe put a different kind of story into it.  I don't know what my problem with romance is.  Maybe it's because I've never been an overly-romantic person in real life (hello, first kiss at 23, here--by choice, at that), but it is really hard for me to grasp, sometimes.  I mean, I really liked both Lena and Alex as characters, and I did (I promise I did) very much like the story (once it picked up), but I so wanted there to be another layer to them the whole time.  What did they really have in common, again?  We all know why Alex stuck out to Lena, but why did she stick out to him?  To be fair, I know this was addressed in the book, but it's hard when you only get one character's point of view.  You know.

Lucky for all of us, this is the first of a trilogy, which I did not know upon finishing, and am a little surprised to find out.  I thought it worked splendidly as a stand alone.  Sure, there were loose ends, but they were poetic enough for me to accept and even appreciate.  So, three cheers for the author on that one.  But some parts of it (vague spoiling ahead) seemed so final, so complete, what else can there be to say?

Regardless, it was a gripping story with characters both lovely and frightening, and the last few chapters had me reeling with adrenaline.  I would recommend this book to anyone who likes romance and standing up for what you believe in, but not much else.  And I KNOW  I didn't read the final copy but, gracious, were there ever some typos.  I think I would make a decent copyeditor.  I usually (not always, but usually) catch all those things that somehow slip through, and no book is immune, it seems (or blog post, for that matter).

The more I think about it, the more I am really looking forward to the rest of the series.  I'm so curious to see where it will go.  Thrilling!

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