Saturday, April 16, 2011

Audiobook Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

From Goodreads:
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

I acquired an advanced reader copy of Delirium through Netgalley back in December. When I read the book a few months ago, I didn't feel like I could write a review that would do it justice. Then a few weeks ago, someone at Harper Audio offered me the chance to listen to the audiobook.  It was then that I knew this was the time to start attempting to put my thoughts about this book into a cohesive message. 

The HarperCollins Children's Audio website plugs this book as "Romeo and Juliet meets 1984." What a perfect description of this story in only five words.  Lauren Oliver's latest book definitely shows large glimpses of George Orwell's classic dystopia.  Clearly Oliver was familiar with Orwell's famous work before writing Delirium as evidenced by this saying from the book:

Liberty in acceptance
Peace in enclosure
Happiness in renunciation

which mimics Orwell's famous motto from 1984:
War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

Since the popularity of The Hunger Games, the dystopian genre has been so over-saturated that, at first glance, this book might just get dismissed as just another author trying to cash in on a trend. However, what sustains this book and sets it apart from all the other dystopian novels is in the beauty of Oliver's simple, no-nonsense prose.  And yet, despite its simplicity, it is also lyrical and poetic. Even further to Oliver's credit is her ability to subtly  weave a developing and evolving protagonist through a suspenseful, page-turning plot.  Lena's character begins the novel having accepted the previously stated Orwell-esque mantra. However, as the story progresses, you slowly but surely see that lie begin to unravel as everything she thought she once believed comes crashing down around her. 

In regards to the audio presentation, Sarah Drew did a phenomenal job at interpreting this story.  Her emotions were perfectly on point and they were so believable that I almost felt like SHE was feeling those emotions as she was reading the story.  When Lena cried, I could almost see the tears running down the narrator's face.   I highly recommend the audiobook if you're a fan of listening to books, but, like me, get frustrated with indifferent, apathetic, or just plain ill-suited narrators.

Without revealing any spoilers, I will say that upon first reading, I was perplexed, almost angered by the ending.  But the second time around, I understood why the book had to end the way it did.  I would love to say more, but I don't want to give anything away.  All I can say is that if you're a fan of dystopia and you haven't read this book yet... what are you waiting for?

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Audiobook Narrator: Sarah Drew
Published: February 2011 by Harper Teen and HarperCollins Children's Audio
Pages: 441
Audiobook Length: 11 hours, 41 minutes
Genre: Dystopia
Audience: Young Adult


  1. I read Delirium a while ago and was really impressed by it. When most people pull the "love is to be avoided" thing, they normally just leave that at romantic love, but Lauren Oliver went a step beyond and even included the love between friends and families. That was interesting.

    Also, the ending I felt was pretty powerful, and actually had me shedding a few tears at the sacrifice. But I'm sentimental that way sometimes!

  2. Just found your blog today. Wanted to let you know I linked to your audiobook review of Delirium. I agree that narrator Sarah Drew does a great job. I think I liked it better as an audio than I would have as a book!