Delirium

Common Sense Media says

Mix of forbidden romance, drama, and danger; OK for teens.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Despite only a faint backstory of how this future United States got this way, the book still sets up a good debate about why a society would make everyone "safe" from strong emotion. For more on dystopian societies, high schoolers who haven't read 1984 by George Orwell or Brave New World by Aldous Huxley should add these to their reading list (if English teachers haven't already) and compare. Also, see our list of recommended dystopian novels for more modern titles.

Positive messages

Characters risk everything to fight for love against a hyper-controlling government that has banned it. 

Positive role models

After the "procedure" at 18, everyone is apathetic, so that means the only thinking, feeling, positive characters are young. At first Lena wants what everyone else is told to want -- the numbness of the procedure -- but she slowly comes around, understanding herself better and why she should fight for individual freedom. Lena's love interest is idealized here, like many boyfriends are in fantasy-romances -- he's handsome, older, and wiser, and never says or does anything wrong.

Violence

The government rules over all in this book, no negotiation. All U.S. residents endure a procedure, essentially brain surgery, at 18
years old to remove their ability to love; some are strapped down
against their will and taken into surgery. Regulators and dogs go after dissenters with clubs and guns. Mostly people are clubbed over the head as they run, dogs bite others, a few are shot. The main character remembers hearing about her mother's suicide when she was 6 years old, jumping off a cliff into the ocean, plus mentions of other suicides.

Sex

Lena and Alex kiss a lot and Alex takes off Lena's shirt. Vague innuendo from Lena's friend Hana that more goes on than that.

Language

"F--k" you!" uttered twice. Plus "s--t" and "s--tty," and "ass."

Consumerism

A few brands mentioned, but it's things like Advil.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lena recalls a time when she and Hana got drunk one bored afternoon and watched the room spin, plus drinking and smoking at underground parties.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that a forbidden romance dominates this dystopian fantasy. The love connection at its core is idealized and stays pretty innocent: Lena and Alex kiss and he takes off her shirt. The amount of violence is pretty typical for the genre. The main character remembers the suicide of her mother more than a
decade earlier to avoid the "procedure" -- essentially brain
surgery every U.S. citizen endures to remove their
ability to be infected by Amor Deliria Nervosa, or love. The threat of death hovers over Lena and Alex if the couple is found out, plus batons are used on victims and there's some shooting. Despite only a faint backstory of how this future United States got this
way, the book still sets up a good debate about why a society would
make everyone "safe" from strong emotion. 

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

The future United States is a place of extreme order and apathy, thanks to a government-required procedure that all citizens must submit to at 18 to protect them from Amore Deleria Nervosa -- the disease of love. Lena can't wait for her procedure, scheduled in a few months. Then she'll be free from memories of her beloved mother who killed herself 12 years ago after a botched procedure to "cure" her. Then, Lena meets Alex and it's not long before she's seriously and wonderfully "infected." He's from beyond the electrified fence and fakes the mark of the cured so he can attend school and stage small anonymous acts of resistance. As Alex opens Lena's eyes to what the cure really represents, Lena struggles with what to do. All the while her procedure date draws nearer.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Teen readers will be drawn into this book's exciting premise and its mix of romance, high drama and danger -- if citizens get "infected" by love, government regulators drag them, kicking and screaming to poke at their brains until they don't care about anyone anymore. Yikes. If readers stay focused on Lena and Alex's star-crossed romance, they are in for a great ride. Those who try to follow the whys and hows of the making of this society will find the unanswered questions keep on coming. They will wish the author had taken more time to flush-out her dystopian backdrop.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the resurgence in popularity of dystopian novels. Like Twilight launched many more vampire novels, the popularity of The Hunger Games, for example, gave this genre new life. Why do teens connect with these books? What do you think the next book fad will be?

  • It's hard to find a fault in Alex, Lena's love interest. Why do you think the main male character in romantic novels is often drawn this way? Do characters like Alex shape teen's expectations about romance in any way?

Book details

Author:Lauren Oliver
Genre:Fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:February 1, 2011
Number of pages:441
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17
Read aloud:14
Read alone:14

This review of Delirium was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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Teen, 16 years old Written byremir101 August 24, 2011
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

AWESOME!

Im only 12 and I read this when I was 11 I fully understood the book! It was such an amazing story and I can't wait for the sequel. The authors Before I Fall is also a must read. This book reminds me of a futuristic twist of Romeo and Juliet
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byKar-kar May 14, 2011
AGE
13
QUALITY
 
MUST READ
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 5 year old Written bymadsmooney1214 May 30, 2012
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

delirium

Families can talk about the resurgence in popularity of dystopian novels. Like Twilight launched many more vampire novels, the popularity of The Hunger Games, for example, gave this genre new life. Why do teens connect with these books? What do you think the next book fad will be? It's hard to find a fault in Alex, Lena's love interest. Why do you think the main male character in romantic novels is often drawn this way? Do characters like Alex shape teen's expectations about romance in any way?
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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