Amor Deliria Nervosa: Are You Infected?

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“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 Haloway 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.”

Lena Haloway is a regular girl living in a screwed-up, dystopian world. Delirium takes place in the future  city of Portland where the government has decided that love, or amor deliria nervosa, is a disease. The Book of Shhh, which is basically the law of the land, tells the symptoms one will feel and what to do if someone catches the deliria. The government has created a cure, an invasive surgery, which all citizens must undergo once they are of age. Teens must take an evaluation and based on their results they are matched with a life partner and even given a career and told how many children they will be expected to have. Their entire lives are planned out by the government, there is no choice.  Outside of this perfectly prim world there are rebels who ran away and refused the cure. These people chose love. Citizens of Portland call the rebels Invalids and anything outside of their safe, gated world is known as The Wilds. With any story comes a conflict and Lena’s perfect world is soon turned upside down when she meets Alex.  He is everything she has been missing and she soon realizes there is more to life than the cure and The Book of Shhh.

Before every chapter began, the author included excerpts that would have been found in the fictional Book of Shhh. Many of which are haunting twists on well-known quotes or nursery rhymes. For example,

“Mama, Mama, help me get home

I’m out in the woods, I am out on my own

I found me a werewolf, a nasty old mutt

It showed me its teeth and went straight for my gut

Mama, Mama, help me get home

I’m out in the woods, I am out on my own

I was stopped by a vampire, a rotting old wreck

It showed me its teeth and went straight for my neck

Mama, Mama, put me to bed

I won’t make it home, I’m already half-dead

I met an Invalid, and fell for his art

He showed me his smile and went straight for my heart.”

There are other examples of quotes from the Bible that have been twisted around and made-up quotes about the cure and amor deliria nervosa, but I found this nursery rhyme to be the most disturbing.

Delirium is a beautifully crafted story that never fails to keep the reader’s attention. There is drama, mystery, and romance around every turn and the basis of the plot is thought-provoking in itself. What if the world was like that? What if love was forbidden? This story is a great read and Lauren Oliver executed the idea wonderfully. If the reader gets invested in these characters, I promise the last two pages will produce speechlessness, confusion, and perhaps a few tears. Delirium is the first book in a trilogy. The second story Pandemonium can be found online and in stores now and the third installment entitled Requiem will be out in 2013.

“They say that the cure for love will make me happy and safe forever. And I’ve always believed them. Until now. Now everything has changed. Now, I’d rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years suffocated by a lie.”


  1. very interesting

  2. Love this book, the second one is good too

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