Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What if Love was Considered a Disease?

It's an intriguing concept, isn't it? Love being a disease. This is the premise for Lauren Oliver's new book, Delirium. Delirium is set in a future society where scientists have found a cure for love. At 18, everyone is required to go through a procedure where they will be cured of this disease, called "amor deliria nervosa." It's said to make you happy. Lena is a girl who is graduating high school, and is scheduled to have the procedure the following September. Before she graduates, she has to go to what is called an evaluation, where her future will basically be decided for her based on her answers. Whether or not she goes to college. Who she will eventually marry. What he job will eventually be. The government has learned how to control every aspect of their lives by "discovering" that love is a disease that needs to be cured, and the cure basically makes you a completely different person. Your friends change, your desires changed, all you want to do is please society. At the beginning of the book, Lena believes in all of this because of what happened to her mother. Her mother committed suicide because she was "infected" with love. Lena believes once she has the procedure, her life will finally be normal again. As with all love stories, this completely changes when Lena meets a boy who shows her that love can actually be a good thing. Suddenly, Lena no longer wants the cure because it means she'll have to leave this boy forever.

I picked up this book in the first place because I really enjoyed Lauren Oliver's last book , Before I fall (another one worth checking out). That book was incredibly well written, and really allowed me to connect with the main character. Delirium followed in the same footsteps. I really connected with Lena, because, even though love is forbidden, she still struggles with the same types of problems that every teenage girl deals with. Looking pretty, being accepted, etc. But supposedly the cure takes away all of these problems. Once you're cured, all of your problems disappear and you live in happiness. But is this true? Can a world where love is virtually nonexistent be a happy one? This is what I found myself wondering all throughout this novel. What would our world actually be like if love was completely absent from it? While love is usually considered a good thing, there are bad things that come along with it, the main one being heartbreak. If our world was "cured" from love, no one would have to feel the pain of heartbreak or rejection ever again. Which is a tempting idea. If we had the chance to never feel that pain again, I think a lot of people would take that in a heart beat. But what about all the good things that come with love? With love, you have the feeling that someone will always be there for you, someone will always love you no matter what, the feeling of never being alone. That's what most people strive for. No one likes to feel like they're alone. If love is absent, no one ever has to feel like they're alone again. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? For a moment, sure. But when you think about what you're really giving up, do you really want to give it up? There was one quote that stood out to me in the novel on this subject. I felt like it summed up this concept of love, the fact that it's both amazing and terrible, really well:

"Love, the deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't.
 But that isn't it exactly.
 The condemner and the condemned. The executioner; the blade; the last-minute reprieve; the gasping breath and the rolling sky above you and the thank you, thank you, thank you, God.
Love: It will kill you and save you, both."

Such a thought provoking quote, don't you think? Love is deadly either when you have it or when you don't. So prohibiting love isn't necessarily the thing that will make everything right. Lena makes the observation at one point in the novel that everyone who is "cured" basically looks like they have no life in them. They have no desires, no aspirations. They just do what they're told. What kind of sad existence is that? Who could possibly want that? People who have brainwashed to think that love is some kind of terrible disease that will eventually kill you. Sure, love could potentially kill you. Look at Romeo and Juliet. But I think it's a risk worth taking.

As for the writing itself in the novel, I personally thought it was amazing. I love how Lauren Oliver can create such real characters, characters that you can relate to. And I loved the relationship between Lena and the boy (I'm leaving out his name for spoiler reasons). It was just so passionate, and you could really see that they truly loved each other. I think it's the kind of relationship that people aspire to have. Where you're completely yourself with the other person and you're not afraid of what they think. You truly believe that they will love you forever. Lena's whole relationship made me smile. And I loved that. Overall, I just really loved this book. It pulled me in right from the start, and I didn't want to put it down until I finished. Those kinds of books are the best. I would recommend this book to anyone who's looking for a good read that different than anything you've read before.

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