Book Blurb: 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 government 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 feel the need to state once again that I really had zero interest in ever reading this book. I completely heart post-apocalyptic/dystopian stories, but usually hate them once TRUE LOVE is thrown into the mix. I read this because I got a stupid java update popup on my computer when I was voting for Book of the Year in the GoodReads Choice Awards and when I went to close it, I accidentally voted for this book (I’m sure you’re all thinking that’s a likely story, but I hope that people who actually know me can accept that this really isn’t my thang at all). I was consumed with guilt by voting for a book I hadn’t actually read, so forced myself to wade through it. Luckily, it wasn’t intellectually taxing at all and it took less than two days.
On to the review!
I wish I could say that the premise of this book was highly original, but while I was reading it I took a look at my recommendations based on my Currently Reading shelf. There were at least 10 books there with almost exactly the same blurb. Change the location, change the name of the main protagonist and why exactly she can’t be with her One True Love and you have the other books it was suggested I check out. In this one, love has been determined to be a fatal disease. Nearly all of humanity’s ills and woes are brought on by this terrible affliction and since scientists came up with ‘the Cure’ (essentially a partial lobotomy) things are pretty damn close to perfect.
We follow the story of Lena, a girl approaching her 18th birthday who is eagerly anticipating her procedure date, the one that will remove from her brain the ability to love. The population is required to wait until they’re 18 because I guess it doesn’t always take if it’s performed on someone younger than that. At first we’re told that it’s never performed on minors, but later the author backpedals and tells us that sometimes (in extreme cases of deliria) it’s okay to perform the procedure on those that haven’t reached the age of majority. Lena is an orphan, whose father died when she was young and her mother committed suicide when she was small because she was one of the few the operation didn’t work on. Her mother had the procedure three times and it never took, so instead of letting them strap her down to the table the fourth time, she walked off of a cliff.
I’m not going to recap the whole plot, because it was super predictable and just the little bit I’ve mentioned above should give you a pretty good idea of how things go – I’ll just get straight to bitching about the stuff that was really horrible.
(Do I need to tell you that there will be SPOILERS ahead?)
Every single bit of this story was completely banal. Of course Lena meets a boy shortly before she turns 18. Of course he turns out to be one of the wild people from beyond the borders of the city. Of course she falls truly, madly, deeply in love with him. Of course her mother isn’t really dead, and of course she escaped from the prison where those who won’t submit are held. That is (of course!) the final straw in Lena’s decision that she can’t – nay, won’t – go through with the lobotomy and she must escape to reunite with her mother again. The book ends on a supposed cliffhanger where Lena escapes from the hordes of police that are chasing her and her OTL, but he’s left behind and she’s on her own.
No explanation is really given as to how amor deliria nervosa came to be thought of as a disease, nor how the scientific procedure actually works to remove a feeling from the brain of those that undergo it. We get little bits from textbooks and government documents at the beginning of each chapter, but no real insight. Those book blurbs were the most interesting part of the story for me because I kept thinking some clarification was on its way. Nope.
The uncured wildlings are referred to as ‘Invalids,’ which I found pretty confusing for the majority of the book – unsure which pronunciation and definition was being used for the word. Were they non-valid since they refused to conform or were they crippled/disabled because they hadn’t submitted? I chose to believe the latter since it seemed to fit with the general tone of the rest of the book…only to find out near the end that I was wrong when it’s mentioned that “their entire existence would be invalidated.” OH! Ooops!
I suppose I could have forgiven the terrible plot and awful predictability if I had enjoyed the author’s style at all, but she lost me fairly early on. In one of the first chapters, Lena opens a window, and the humidity is described as the air feeling “as thick and heavy as a tongue.” No, I’m not kidding. That was the point for me where I realized there wasn’t any way possible I would take pleasure in this book. Ugh. I guess lots of people are bumping this book up an additional star because of Lauren Oliver’s ‘beautiful, brilliant, elegant’ prose, but I’m not one of those people.
1/5 stars. Truly terrible…but I will probably read the sequel, just so I can mock it further.