Author: Lauren Oliver
Publish Date: February 1, 2011
Genre: YA, dystopian
Pages: 305 (Kindle edition)
2. Pandemonium (expected pub 2012)
3. Requiem (expected pub 2013)
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 governments 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 honestly don’t know how I’d live in a world without love. I suppose if I was born into it and it was bred into my bones that love is a bad disease that would eventually kill me, I might I have different opinion. Lena is definitely all for the cure for amor deliria nervosa. When she was younger, her mother was unable to be cured (she had the procedure three times, but it never “worked”) and she ended up walking off a cliff. I can definitely sympathize with Lena: I wouldn’t want to fall in love or feel love at all if it was so bad that it caused my mom to commit suicide.
In the days before her 18th birthday, her cure date, Lena must complete the evaluations in which she must stand before a panel of four lab scientists and answer a series of questions. This is so that she can be paired with her future husband, but I think it is also a prescreening to ensure that she has not contracted the disease. Her evaluations don’t go very well, but there is an "incident" at the labs the same day, and she is lucky enough to get a do-over. She’s also lucky because this is the day she meets Alex, who ends up turning her life upside down.
Her best friend Hana is more outgoing and introduces Lena to new parts of her world that are “forbidden”: she listens to illegal music, she sneaks out after curfew, and spends time with boys (breaking the segregation rule). Somehow, Lena ends up being sucked into this world and she and Alex become friends. Since he is “cured” (she can tell by the mark that all cureds have), she feels that this is ok.
Aside from the more indepth synopsis of the book I’ve just given, I’m not really sure what to say. I know what I WANT to say, but it is totally spoilerific and not fair to you who haven't read it. I will say that I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I haven’t read Lauren's debut, Before I Fall, and I can’t recall reading any dystopian novels before, so I was going in blind. I am no longer blind, my friends! The romance in this story is beautiful because Lena is just discovering it for the first time. Along with that is her fear of love and fear of her society. She gets really tangled up and doesn’t know where she belongs because Alex is opening her eyes to things she has never seen before, things that the government hides from people to “keep them safe.” I could feel all of Lena’s emotions throughout the novel, from pain to curiosity to fear to love to confusion and more. It was all very powerful, which indicates to me that the writing is fantastic.
The last thing I will say is about the ending, and I will try my hardest not to spoil anything. The ending was absolutely amazing and shocking. I didn’t know if I should cry or not, scream or not, be happy or not! There are upsides and downsides to the way it ends, and I think I understand why the characters made the choices they did. It’s still really hard to read, emotionally. I had to reread the last two pages at least five times and still didn’t believe it. If you’re one of those people who reads the last few pages of a story before reading the story itself, I’d recommend for you not to. I’d say don’t ever, for any book you ever read, but especially for this one, just DON’T. Just read it. Read it and enjoy it, because you and I both know you will.
Thanks to NetGalley and HarperTeen for the eARC!