Delirium is the first book of a trilogy by Lauren Oliver.

Delirium Book Cover

Writing style: 4.5/5

Oliver has a way with words, manipulating them into melodies, rather than just simple sentence. It feels like there is a rhythm to what she puts on the page and she is deliberate with every description, piece of dialogue, even the run on sentences she favors. It’s all meant to bring this first person POV to life, help you better imagine and feel the world she’s creating. I especially love how she describes the setting of Portland, Maine – I read somewhere that Oliver spent some time in the city just to make sure she got the details right.

One thing I noticed is that her metaphors hardly ever use the similes “as” or “like” (at least the way she writes makes these not stand out as much). This gives her prose that poetic feel; however, it could get drawn out and melodramatic sometimes, especially when she would do standalone paragraphs at the beginning or end of chapters to set the mood or do character development.

Creativity of story: 4/5

I don’t want to put too many spoilers in this review, but Oliver’s world is basically a love story set in a world without love.

The world of Delirium centers around the notion that love is a disease. I think it’s a great idea to turn an emotion, something so erratic and wild, into a plague that needs to be eradicated, managed, handled. The way the government in this story does this is pretty interesting and realistic, and I enjoyed learning more about the world than I did the love story between Lena and Alex. Why? It didn’t really feel electric or real. It was juvenile, but then again, that’s because the story calls for it – Lena has shunned the idea of love almost her entire life. Watching their love story unfold just wasn’t the most exciting part about this book for me.

Overall thoughts: Worth Reading

It’s got classic elements – the innocent blossoming of first love – and these wild, uncharted territories – love is a disease, it is illegal, and it will kill you. As I mentioned, the love story here is sub-par compared to the world building, and the development of Lena’s character. Her background, the way her thinking evolves over the course of the book, and the secrets about her life are really intriguing. Even her relationships with everyone but Alex are very interesting to watch. I just started the second book in the series, Pandemonium, and so far it seems like Lena has gotten even better as a character.

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Two weeks ago, I spent 7 days writing the third draft of my novel. It’s the first time I’ve ever completed a story from beginning to end. The first and second draft of this story, written in short increments (usually just 15 minutes a day) over the past 2.5 years, were never really “finished.” I’d stop working on the draft a few chapters shy of the actual end because I was still working that part out. But this time I did it. I really finished the book (this version of it anyway).

Karra Barron Novel Writing October 2015 Update

I thought it would be interesting to capture some of my thoughts and feelings during this period. I wrote all day long, typically for 8 hours, with my longest sprint being 15 hours straight on the last day. However, the notes below don’t really capture one of my takeaways form this week of writing: it’s hard and slow-going before it becomes easy, but at some point, the words seem to just flow out of you. I hardly noticed that 15 hours had gone by, I was so engrossed in what I was doing. It was pretty amazing to reflect on this after the fact. Anyway, here are my little journals:

Day 1 – October 5

I am mentally drained as I write this. Not so much drained of my creativity like I can’t get out another word of prose, but more like I’m tired. I didn’t get a restful night sleep and I woke up several times, knowing full well that it would affect my first writing day as a “temporarily unemployed young writer.” Doesn’t that sound very Hemingway of me?

His is the only autobiography I’ve ever read and technically I didn’t read a bio. I read A Moveable Feast, which I got in Paris last year. It taught me one of the most important lessons that I’m going to try and abide by this week: Don’t write until your empty. Leave a little bit so that tomorrow, you have more to say.

So I’m stopping. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I want to start fresh with a better night’s sleep tomorrow.

I did manage to churn out over 1.5 chapters today. I’m doing that thing again where I come up with scenes out of nowhere, unplanned and uncalled for, but I think they’re going to work really well with the rest of the story.

Day 4

My butt hurts from sitting around all the time, but it doesn’t matter because for once I’m doing something that I genuinely love. That I would gladly get sore muscles from. That I would starve myself for. That I would lose sleep over. This book, writing this story, is everything to me right now. Even my body can’t stop me from doing what my mind and heart so desperately need me to do right now.

Day 6

I’m so close to finishing this draft right now. About four to five chapters away. It’s exciting, but also unbelievable. What I’ve discovered though is that this isn’t going to be the final draft before I give it to readers to edit/judge. The story is solid, where I want it to be, but it’s not how I want it to be. I’m reading Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series right now and let me tell you, the woman has a way with words. Her metaphors, her descriptions in dialogue, her prose is on point. Next draft after this will be about refining the story, making it better. But I’ve got the plot pretty down now. So I’m still deliriously happy. Tonight, I’m going to finish this story. For reals.

Day 7 – Oct 10/oct 11

So I think I’m a real, honest to goodness fiction writer now.
Because it’s 6:53am on Sunday morning and I am done writing my story.
I have the first word and the last word and everything in between.
I know more versions are coming, with edits to certain words, paragraphs even, are coming.
But this is the first time, this story feel honest to goodness done.
I’m so tired I can’t even come up with anymore adjectives. But I’m so happy. So incredibly satisfied and amazed and proud and excited.
I have the title too: [editor’s note: sorry, keeping this a secret for now!].
It fits. It’s right.
Everything is right.

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