- Published: New York : HarperCollins, 2011.
- Year Published: 2011
- Edition: 1st ed.
- Description: 441 p.
- Language: English
- Format: Book
- Lexile: 920
- Government, Resistance to -- Fiction.
- Family life -- Fiction. -- Maine
- Orphans -- Fiction.
- Science fiction.
- Maine -- Fiction.
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Call number: Teen Fiction
Lena looks forward to receiving the government-mandated cure that prevents the delirium of love and leads to a safe, predictable, and happy life, until ninety-five days before her eighteenth birthday and her treatment, when she falls in love.
Throughout the novel, Lena is a very relatable character. She has had quite a bit of trauma in her young life. Her mother committed suicide instead of receiving the cure, leaving Lena with only the haunting and forbidden words of "I love you" to guide her. She is ruled by fear and is unsure of herself, as many normal teens are today. But in her world, she can count down the days until she will receive the cure and not have to worry about contracting the deliria like her mother did. She is looking for her place in the world, but also trying to keep her head down and not draw too much attention to herself. She just wants a normal life without any more pain or trouble. I think most of us can relate to having this feeling every once in awhile.
But then her best friend, Hana, begins acting strangely. Hana is popular and beautiful and rich. Lena doesn't understand why she would be dissatisfied with her life. Isn't that what we all want in some capacity? To be popular and beautiful and rich? But Hana sees her life as short. She wants to have as many "real" experiences as she can before she has the cure. She begins listening to forbidden music and going to secret parties with dancing and alcohol and boys. Lena becomes very confused and fears that the worst has happened to her friend. She even joins Hana on more than one occasion to try to keep her out of trouble. Again, relatable. Many of us have probably had (or been) that rebellious friend who needs to be taken care of while experiencing life.
But Lena's attitude begins to change when she meets Alex (It's always due to a boy, isn't it?). He has all of the markings of the cure, a scar and a job in the society, but the way he talks and looks at Lena is different. He is mysterious and, of course, quite attractive. And Lena can't help but find herself drawn to him (and don't we all?). She finally realizes that she herself is showing signs of the deliria, but by then she is in too deep. Can she even live without Alex? How did she ever think that the cure was a good idea? And will she go to desperate lengths to keep love in her life? You'll have to read it to find out! I don't want to give too much away now.
Though the love story is pretty predictable in the way it plays out, the ending of the book is very redeeming in that I didn't see it coming. It is shocking and, quite frankly, makes the entire book a whole lot better. I can't wait to read Pandemonium and see what happens next!
Is love a disease?
I think the argument could be made for it,
but it is definitely a disease I want to live with!!
Overall, I give this book a 3 out of 5 hearts.
The premise is an alternate United States where everyone gets a surgical procedure done that makes love impossible (without love, there is also no hate and so war is abolished). Lena, the narrator, is 17, only a few months from her procedure, and a complete believer in the system. And then, of course, she gets the deleria and falls in love.
I definitely don't buy the premise of the book. This country is too independent ever to allow the government to mandate an action like this story requires. I mean, we have children dying from preventable diseases because we allow parents to opt their children out of vaccines... do you really think we'd let the government remove our capacity to love? (And no, I don't think the government should mandate vaccines... I think good science and social pressure should make all parents of healthy children get their kids vaccinated!)
If you think soccer moms want to protect school funding, do you really think they'd allow the government to remove their ability to love their children? Never.
But if you allow the premise of the book,... it's really well done. Seen through a 17 year old believer's eyes, the system is beautiful and makes sense. Her discovery of an alternate, parallel community of dissidents shakes her, challenges her, and eventually sways her. It's a story beautifully told about friendship, your place in the world, love, and sacrifice.
I did get to the end of the book and feel like it was the wrong story, in a way. This is the story of Lena making a decision, but in the end I'm far more interested in how she lives with that decision than with how she made it. But it turns out this is only the first book of a trilogy, so really it's just that I read the wrong book. I'll be reading the sequel when it comes out.
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