Delirium, by Lauren Oliver...the only book that could have dragged my eyes away from the view out of the little plane I was on as we flew up the Oregon coast into Washington at sunset.
Venus was the only thing in the sky, huge lights on the ocean (trawlers and fishermen on their way home? I thought they were stars until my mind made that little adjustment and put them below the horizon) heading into the Columbia, the sun still setting long after anyone on the ground could see it, mountains casting extraordinary shadows for miles. And Delirium, a tale of a dystopian time not too far from now, an amazing story about a world where love and emotion are carved from brains at adulthood.
In this time, it has been discovered that most of the world's ills could be cured if only emotion could be controlled. If love, if emotion, could be removed from a life, the delirium that causes a person to stop eating, to cry after heartbreak, heartbreak itself, the need to dance, to scream, to kiss a boo-boo, if these could be removed, people would be calm and better able to make good decisions and live quiet, not quite happy lives. Their lives with tasteless food and slow walks with other people who also eat only to nourish and walk only to exercise would be enough for them. There would be no keeping up with the Joneses, no worry about where you live, no wondering about what you'll be when you grow up. You will have a life.
But what if the operation doesn't take? What happens when love doesn't go away? What if the memory of a woman who danced and sang, who hid her laughter and sock-sliding from the world, who died, has infected her daughter? What do you do when the world you live in says that at age 18 you will no longer race your friend around the track, that you will no longer notice the way the air feels at sunrise, that those memories of your mother will no longer matter- You yourself will be the same as everyone else, a body in a bed, in a house, in a neighborhood filled with others just like you.
And what if there is a electrified fence to a wild space that keeps you safe, and a boy who came from there who makes you delirious?
Oh, this was so good. I have the manuscript- no publisher, no page numbers, no copyright info- so I was unable to go into the book with any kind of idea of it. It has white double-spaced pages, front page with only black title and author, bound in a plastic binding with a clear plastic cover. The only intimation of the innards was when the store's children's book buyer, handed it to me and said, "I think you're going to like this."
I like dystopian fiction. I like that it makes me think. I like that sometimes I can see where decisions made today may lead in the future. There is a whole lot of it out there in the kid's book world, especially since Hunger Games, and Delirium is among the best.
I went to the technical side of my brain and searched around for more info about the book, publisher, due dates....and found some cover art for the advance reading copy and a due date of February, 2010. It will be published by HarperCollins. Ms. Oliver has a contest related to the book posted on her site laurenoliverbooks.blogspot.com. I'm almost sorry to have seen the cover, to have found out who the publisher is; the idea of this plain, simple manuscript floating around as if someone was whispering to me was like a secret only a few of us knew. For a while, it was only me and Lena and hope. Ages 13 and up.