Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wow. Just, wow. I'm absolutely stunned by the ending of Lauren Oliver's Delerium, which I finished not 5 minutes ago. Romeo and Juliet has never been a favorite of mine, due to death by miscommunication. But death because of sacrifice is completely different. Sometimes I feel that teen romances are taken too far, there is often a sense that this is the one, the perfect partner, despite the fact that the protagonist is but sixteen. Here, I don't feel any of that. Having your ability to feel (love, hate, everything inbetween) cut off at eighteen means young romance is the only thing that's even possible, let alone probable.
In Lena's world, a person undergoes an operation at eighteen, effectively curing them of love. For if one doesn't love, there is no pain or loss, and everyone will be happy. Lena counts the days until she'll receive the cure and everything will be good and right. She'll be matched with her husband and together they'll live a safe, predictable life. But then Lena the perfect citizen, the good girl, finds someone to love. And things will never be the same.
The world Oliver has created is so real. Her reliance on everyday objects, places and activities grounds the dystopian environment and cements the connection between the reader and Lena. The one scene that truly clinched my love of this book was when Lena went to the cell in which her mother had been held, and saw one word carved over and over into the walls, a word that was both her downfall and her savior. As Lena walked the halls to the cell, smelling the refuse and mold, I felt snatches of V for Vendetta run through my mind. At other points I couldn't help but think of Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. From teen romance, best friends, high school, and illegal parties to a totalitarian government, Oliver seamlessly weaves a classic tale of love with the danger and despair of a dystopia.
It'll be out from HarperCollins in February.