I just finished the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver. I put off reading this trilogy for a while because I thought the premise was pretty cheesy and a little dumb. “Love is a disease and we’ve cured it” and all that nonsense. And, in reading all of the books, I wasn’t entirely convinced. Because if you supposedly cure all human beings of love, how are they feeling anything at all? How do you get anything done? So I had some trouble with the believability of the whole thing. That being said, I really enjoyed reading the series. I had to sort of suspend my disbelief about the whole love disease aspect (which is admittedly, a huge aspect) in order to enjoy the rest of the story.
The first book, “Delirium,” was my favorite of the three. It has a great, exciting pace and characters who I found it very easy to empathize with. Oliver’s strongest point is her imagery and her careful, never wordy, diction. It’s difficult to set up the scene in someone’s bedroom, let alone a whole city after curfew or a contraband “love” party that’s in the midst of a dog-fueled raid, but Oliver knows how to do it, and how to do it well. Her characters’ arcs, specifically Lena’s and Alex’s, were authentic and heartbreaking and I felt most connected to them and their story in the first book.
The second book, “Pandemonium,” was good, with its swath of new characters including Lena’s second love interest, Julian, and other members of the Resistance. I think its function was mostly to set up the action of the final novel, and to show how one person can adapt and operate in the face of devastating hardship. I’m a fan of Alex, so the introduction of Julian kind of bummed me out, but I think that was the point. Life goes on, and all that.
The third book, “Requiem,” was just all right, to be honest. In my experience, final novels in a series generally kind of suck. The earlier novels have built this massive web of story lines and characters that readers care deeply about and it’s the final novel’s job to wrap it up in some kind of satisfying manner, and it’s impossible to do that and make everyone happy. But authors try anyway, resulting in a final novel that can feel rushed and underwritten. Such is the case with “Requiem,” and I’m sad to say I really only enjoyed the last 50 pages and the book has 391.
I think Oliver had some very valid and intriguing things to say on the manner of love and the power of a government mankind’s relentless desire to hope and fight when something precious is at stake, and I’m glad she wrote the trilogy. Would I read it again? Probably not. And if I did, it’s a safe bet I’d only make it through the first one. But it’s definitely a necessary read for self-proclaimed lovers of dystopian and YA fiction. Hence why I read it. HENCE HENCE HENCE.