By: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Dystopian, Romance
In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn’t about to make the same mistakes.
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the Wilds who lives under the government’s radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?
Although, technically this is a romance novel and I don’t particularly care for romance novels, I wouldn’t classify it as romance first, rather dystopian. However, the entire book is about love. Did I just confuse you there? Let me try again… you see, its about love, but… oh never mind. I’ll just admit it. I liked a romance novel. Heck, I absolutely loved it!
My aversion to romance novels simply lies in the fact that they tend to be almost all mush and very little story. In this case, love IS the story. It’s a fight for love of every kind; mother and daughter, friendship, sisters, and yes, romantic. With love of any kind come the possibility and inevitability of being hurt.
Oliver creates a world where people are willing to have brain surgery to prevent the pain, suffering, war and famine that is all a symptom of the disease love. The result is a brainwashed society of people who fear emotional attachment of any kind and prefer the legal requirement of having “the cure”. Lena, having already suffered the loss of her mother is all too willing to cure herself of the pain caused by this disease until she realises, with a little help from Alex, that her mother’s love was a great gift, not the result of a crazed mind sickened by “amor delirium nervosa”.
Oliver does a fabulous job of creating a believable voice for Lena and her pacing is perfect. Lena speaks and describes her world and thoughts in great detail, but I was never bored. Her language is beautiful and genuine. The development and growth of the characters is superb and I particularly enjoyed the inner turmoil that Lena struggled through in learning the truth about love, the lies created by fear, and the government who used that fear to control the public.
The relationship between Lena and Alex is believable and although the language is a little “mushy” at times, it feels natural for a teenage girl in love. I am particularly impressed with how Oliver remains consistent with the physical contact between the two of them. It has a curious and almost exploratory feel, yet still remains loving and passionate.
The only thing that I can give any sort of complaint to would be the verb tense in a couple of places. I love that this book is written in the first person present tense, but it is really hard to do a recap of events when you skip the story ahead. The way that Oliver kept the recent past in the present tense felt a little awkward, but it was only in a couple of brief segments and wasn’t bad enough to distract me from the story.
A few words to sum up… star crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, love conquers all, government conspiracy, and delightful. Can’t wait to read the next in the series, Pandemonium. Unfortunately, I have a few good books ahead of it, so stay tuned 🙂
About the Author:
Lauren Oliver is the New York Times bestselling author of the YA novels Replica, Vanishing Girls, Panic, and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem, which have been translated into more than thirty languages. The film rights to both Replica and Lauren’s bestselling first novel, Before I Fall, were acquired by AwesomenessTV; a major motion picture adaptation of Before I Fall was announced by Open Road Films in 2016.
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