Author: Lauren Oliver
Pages: 442 pages
Publisher/Date: Harper Collins Publishers, c2011.
Reviewed from ARC furnished by Traveling ARC Tours
Release Date: Feb. 1, 2011
Since I realize ARCs (Advanced Reader Copy) are not the finalized book and can go through the editing process still, I figured I’d quote from GoodReads.com rather than the ARC itself. The cover image was also taken from GoodReads.com, although it’s very different from the cover on the ARC, which I like better. (And did it take anyone else more than one look to see the face behind the lettering?)
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.
Lena (short for Magdalena) is counting down the days until she gets the operation that will prevent her from ever “contracting” love, an awful disease that can cause irrationality, impulsiveness, and other unwanted symptoms and is blamed for the evils of the old world. After an interrigation and operation, every teenager is paired with a member of the opposite sex, receives training for their dictated profession, and lives the life they are assigned. It’s rumored that there are Invalids on the either side of the fence who haven’t been cured, but people who sympathize with these ghosts in the trees are quickly taken care of. Intent on escaping the curse of her family’s history of suicide and sympathizer, Lena is looking forward to the operation. Until, she glimpses a face that changes her life and makes her question everything she’d previously accepted.
This is my first exposure to Lauren Oliver (at this writing, I haven’t read Before I Fall yet) and I’m determined to read more of her work. Her emotions are evocative, her characters are multi-faceted, and you’re drawn into this world really understanding the fear that Lena has of becoming her mother and suffering the same fate. Her evolution is gradual and conflicted, and she struggles to come to terms with her changing view of the world. Lena’s choices are not easy, and Oliver doesn’t take the easy way out with any of them.
The details are extraordinary. Each chapter is introduced with a quote reflecting the impressions, beliefs, and teachings of this distopian society. Whether it’s the distortian of Romeo and Juliet into a cautionary tale of the dangers of love or the nonexistance of fairy tales and poetry. The book is vague about not only how this society became established, but also the specifics of the operation, and that really emphasizes the blind acceptance that all the citizens exhibit.
This book reminds me of Uglies meets Brave New World, and it’s a wonderful love story in the middle of a loveless world. So take a chance on love!