Monday, December 27, 2010

Delirium: I had CHILLS at the haunting, SO GOOD!

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.

Book Review:
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
5 out of 5 stars

I had chills--CHILLS--at the end of Lauren Oliver's Delirium. It was like I could hear Muse's "Uprising" playing in the background as I read the last passage. I was unbelievably moved by this resistance movement that will fight for the right to love. I had to read the last page out loud to my non-literary husband (something I haven't done since "Katniss, there is no District 12") just so that I could share it with someone.

Fans of young adult dystopian fiction, rejoice! A remarkable new series has been added to our genre. I've been reading dystopian fiction way before there ever was The Hunger Games, and I was captivated by Delirium. This novel combines so many classic elements of dystopian literature into a moving, heart-rending tale of the ultimate forbidden love--not only is Lena forbidden to chose whom she will love, but she is forbidden to love PERIOD. I saw echoes of so many favorite dystopian works in Delirium (1984, Anthem, and perhaps the first YA dystopian novel, John Christopher's The White Mountains).

I was hooked from the very beginning. I love the premise, and Lauren Oliver really delivered. Although the first quarter of the book drags in places, once Oliver hits her stride, the story grips your heart and emotions and doesn't let go. Oliver takes us on this fascinating journey of self-discovery with Lena, as Lena slowly learns to trust her heart, question the "truths" she's always been taught, and ultimately choose for herself. I loved seeing Lena gradually awaken from the slumber this world places on the mind as Alex show her how to think and feel and LOVE for herself.

And that ending? I was blown away. Oliver foreshadowed it throughout the book, but I was still floored. There are certain events that I REALLY hope are possible for the next book based on that ending, so I read the last few pages several times to see if there's any hope there, and believe there is. Was that vague enough to keep it spoiler free?

Delirium is a thought-provoking tale that had me riveted. It combines some of my favorite elements--forbidden love, dystopian world, resistance movement--into one compelling book that will haunt you well after you've read that stunning last passage.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Nightshade: That was a whole lotta lust. (But the marketing department gets five stars!)

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Book Review:

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
2 out of 5 stars

I admit it--this book was addictive. I read it in one sitting, finishing at 2:00 a.m., so if you like to be consumed by a book and have that "I cannot put this down" feeling, read this (but that does not mean it was satisfying). Two stars for being crazy addictive! However, my recommendation of this book ends there. (Although the marketing team for this book is worth a full five stars. I saw this book EVERYWHERE. Posters at every bookstore, buzz on every blog, pretty displays at Target even. They really managed to make this feel like the next big thing, so props to the marketing geniuses for an amazing campaign!)

This book was just a whole lotta lust. I can tolerate and even adore "love at first sight" books when done properly. However, this book just came off as three teenagers with crazy, raging hormones who need to touch and gaze and lust after each other EVERY MOMENT OF THE BOOK. Calla and Shay's "connection"? I just never felt it. They just seemed to lust and pine after each other for page after page. I'm not quite sure why some "I've just met you but I love you with every infinitesimal particle of my being" books work better than others (maybe it has to do with establishing a somewhat relatable, electrifying connection), but this one really fell flat for me. I seriously thought, "Oh no, here they go lusting after each other again." I liked the opening for its suspense and really thought it got things going (so I give the author credit for a great hook) but underdeveloped characters and a contrived plot made this book very unsatisfying. And why do even werewolves need to be drinking blood these days?

And Shay? He's got to be one of the most boring, most "I couldn't care less about you" characters I've read about all year. He lost major points when he seemed to disparage girls whose favorite book is Pride and Prejudice and love Jane Austen. Excuse me, it's not unoriginal--it's just good taste. He was a one-dimensional character with no charisma--no spark--to make me care. I never connected with him and Calla or felt the depth of his supposed love for her. It just really felt like lust, lust, and more lust. The dialogue was weak and contrived, and the whole world felt like it wasn't really fleshed out--it wasn't really developed like it could have been. Calla was supposed to be this super tough alpha female, but she felt weak and indecisive. She melts and goes crazy with every touch from Ren or Shay and pretty much acts that way (or as a temper tantrum toddler) for most of the book.

The book is addictive. It has a pretty cover. That's about it. Others may find it satisfying or the relationships riveting, but it was not for me. I read it last week, and I've already forgotten what happened.