In Tuesdays with Morrie, Morrie Schwartz tells Mitch Albom, “Love is the only rational act.” Lauren Oliver takes the opposite approach in Delirium, her very thought-provoking young adult novel. As the book starts, Lena is months away from her 18th birthday, the threshold at which time a medical procedure is carried out on all citizens of the United States. This procedure removes one’s capacity to love. Love, in a sense, is illegal because it removes a person’s ability to act and think rationally. Those who avoid the procedure are termed Invalids and either executed or sent away to the Crypts, a dungeon-like setting where you are left to die. Lena accepts that she will undergo the procedure because that’s what all law-abiding citizens do. She carries a lot of baggage, though, which leads to many stories with in the story.
Her mother underwent four separate procedures, the last two without anesthesia, because her procedure never took. Doctors believed the anesthetic interfered. Her father was deemed a “Sympathizer” because his wife was never cured. Both were lost to Lena at a very early age. So, sent to live with her lifeless (and loveless) aunt and uncle, Lena accepts her fate, keeps her head down, and awaits the date of her procedure. Then, Alex comes into her life and turns things upside down. Lena begins to question everything she once took as the law.
Delirium is a book I long avoided. I was scared off by what I didn’t know, which is pretty shallow of me. The book is, from my perspective, long-winded. It could have been streamlined without losing any of the important plot points. But that’s a 44-year-old’s perspective. I’m definitely not the book’s target market. I think teen girls will love this book; and they have. Thumbs up to Lauren Oliver for providing a thoughtful plot and some very important social commentary that I hope readers will stop to ponder.