The Things We Do for Love: Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Audio)

Audiobook Review — In Delirium by Lauren Oliver, love isn’t a drug; it’s a disease. In this near-future novel in the New England-y setting of Portland, Maine, love and all other strong emotions become a thing of the past once you turn 18. That’s when you undergo the operation known as “the procedure” that modifies your brain and cures you of all passion or any real memory of passions you once felt, allowing you to sail calmly from high school into an arranged marriage and career or, possibly, for the young women, motherhood.
As the soon-to-turn-18 narrator, Lena Haloway, has been told throughout her education, this is for the good of society — the new normal for all the pockets of civilization remaining in the world that was overrun by war, poverty, and the disease. The procedure makes it possible for government authorities to maintain the safety and structure of the enclosed society, to protect the isolated Portland citizens from the fugitives who rebelled against the procedure and escaped — the “Invalids” — who are out there in the Wilds beyond the electric fence and the armed guards, Lena suspects, but are not acknowledged by the authorities.
Just before the fateful summer after graduation when Lena gradually comes to understand that everything she’s been taught may not be true, she meets Alex, a mysterious, slightly older boy who is cured, and therefore, safe, but still seems to affect Lena in a strange and unfamiliar way. Modest, unassuming Lena realizes far later than the reader that Alex likes her (not her beautiful, rich friend Hana) but, by then, she has almost completely succumbed to the disease.
Underneath the dystopian overlay, this is a teen love story. Girl meets boy and the whole world turns upside down. The danger of Lena and Alex’s forbidden summer romance is real, however, with the punishment a lot worse than being grounded for a month, so after a slow dip in the middle, the tension in the story builds nicely as the date for Lena’s procedure gets closer. The ending leaves plenty of questions unanswered for the sequel, Pandemonium, coming out in March 2012.
Listening to Delirium, you’re never going to forget that you’re reading a young adult book aimed squarely at young female readers (and their moms), but if that’s what you’re in the mood for, it’s a good audiobook choice. Narrator Sarah Drew does a great job with the voices of the teens Lena (unsure but brave), Hana (carelessly confident), and Alex (husky/drawling/ironic) and with the adult voices. Some listeners may find Lena’s voice a bit gushy or overemotional, but over all, Sarah Drew’s narration conveys the joy and grief that Lena naturally feels but tries to repress, having been told by teachers and parents for so long that it’s not good to feel them. The adult voices, in contrast, are unemotional, suitable to a society where family ties are formed of duty rather than love.
Delirium may be available as a free audio download through Overdrive at your public library. Listen to an audio sample here.
Other opinions on the audio edition of Delirium (all mostly good):
Fyrefly’s Book Blog
A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust
Good Books and Good Wine
Hooked to Books
Super Librarian

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: