Literature: Delirium Series
This is a series of Young Adult Dystopian
novels by Lauren Oliver, author of Before I Fall
. The first book was published in January 2011, and the sequel, Pandemonium
, was released on February 28, 2012. The third and final book, Requiem
, was released in Spring 2013.
The story is set Twenty Minutes into the Future
, in a version of America where love has been officially diagnosed as a mental illness, amor deliria nervosa
, and every citizen is "cured" by an operation at the age of eighteen. Lena Haloway is eager for the procedure, having even more reason to be afraid of love than the average citizen, but then of course she meets a handsome young man — can you see where this is going?
The show was made into a series starring Emma Roberts
which was made available on Hulu
in June 2014.
This series contains the following tropes:
- Abusive Parents: Julian's father in the sequel.
- Affably Evil: Hana's husband Fred.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Scavengers.
- Badass Biker: Alex has a motorbike.
- Bad Dreams: Lena and her little cousin Gracie, who have both lost their mothers, are plagued by recurring nightmares about their deaths.
- Big Applesauce: Half of Pandemonium is set in a severely "cured", colorless New York.
- Big Bad: Fred Hargrove. Turns out he's been working with the government to undermine the resistance, killed his father and is intending to impose a horrible, strict rule on the country, including taking people's heat/power/water away if they show any resistance, or just to keep people in line.
- Big Brother Is Watching: Everyone is under constant surveillance, even in their own homes. Regulators and other enforcers of the Police State are told to watch for any behaviors indicative of "amor deliria nervosa."
- Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage: At eighteen, everyone gets a list of four potential matches to choose from.
- Chained to a Bed: Lena by her family after they find out that she has fallen in love/been infected with "amor deliria nervosa." They even drug her with tranquilizers to make the job easier.
- Cool Big Sis: Rachel used to be this, before the procedure.
- Crapsaccharine World/Crapsack World: Much is made about how curing people of the ability to love has increased social stability, but over the course of the book, many things are exposed that are wrong with the society that Lena lives in.
- Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Lena after having broken the nylon cords tying her to her bed.
- Culture Police: Dancing, poetry, certain types of music, loud laughter and public displays of affection are all banned.
- Cure Your Gays: One of the intended effects of the procedure.
- Cute Mute: Gracie, too traumatized to speak except in her sleep, and then only the word "Mommy".
- Cynical Mentor: Raven and Tack. They arrange for Lena and Julian to be kidnapped together, so that Julian will bond with her and be discredited as a symbol of the DFA. The fact that his father will literally kill him is considered a necessary price to pay.
- Dangerous Eighteenth Birthday: Everybody gets the procedure done at age 18.
- Driven to Suicide: Lena's mother. When not even three operations managed to erase her love and grief over her dead husband, she dived off a cliff into the ocean. At least that's what Lena has been told.
- Distressed Damsel: Lena, several times.
- Distressed Dude: Julian.
- Deadpan Snarker: Lena sometimes, especially towards the end of the novel.
Thinking about Brian, her fiance: "Has it ever occurred to you that you're allergic to life?"
Tied up and being scolded by Rachel: "Sorry to inconvenience you."
- Double Standard: If two "uncureds" of the opposite sex fall in love and get involved with each other, they're merely considered to have "amor deliria nervosa" and it's bad because it's considered an unnatural version of the usual husband-wife relationships. If the two "uncureds" are of the same sex, though, their behavior is labeled as "Unnaturalism."
- Dysfunction Junction: Lena's whole family, basically.
- Dystopian Edict: The entire prohibition on love is basically this.
- Fag Hag: Lena's first friends in the resistance, apart from Raven, are a gay couple named Bram and Hunter.
- The Evilsof Free Will: The book starts with Lena about to be evaluated, mentally and physically, by a team of civil servants who will determine which career she is suited for and what sort of boy she should marry (she'll have to choose from among four boys).
- Extraverted Nerd: Brian Scharff, although he does have a brief sympathetic moment. He's skinny, unattractive, a Momma's Boy and allergic to practically everything.
- Heel-Face Turn: Hana, in the third book, once she realizes how evil her husband-to-be is.
- Future Imperfect: Many stories in The Bible are twisted to accommodate the belief that love is a disease. For example, the story of Mary Magdalena is twisted into an anti-love story.
- Fascists' Bed Time: A curfew is imposed on "uncureds" for the dual purpose of adding appeal to "the procedure" and for prevention of any illicit gatherings between lovers.
- Foil: Lena's friend Hana is her opposite in almost every way - taller, wealthier, more stylish and more outspoken against the system. However, when Lena asks her to escape into the wild with her and Alex, Hana doesn't dare to leave her comfortable lifestyle. In the end, it turns out Lena is actually the braver of the two.
- For Your Own Good: Lena's family, trying to force her to be cured.
- Fun with Acronyms: The Safety, Health and Happiness Handbook, practically a second Bible to this culture, is nicknamed The Book of Shhh. Hana calls the Controlled Information Department the "Corrupt Idiots Department".
- In the sequel, there's "Correction, Regulation And Prevention". Check the initials.
- Great Escape: Both Mrs. Haloway and, with Alex's help, Lena herself escaping from her own home just before she's "cured".
- In Pandemonium, Lena and Julian escape from the Scavengers.
- Green-Eyed Monster: In the novella Hana, it's revealed that this is the reason that Hana sold out Alex and Lena.
- Heel Realization: When a party Hana and Lena are attending is brutally raided by the police, Lena is shocked into realizing that if their supposed "protectors" are this cruel, then many things she has been raised to believe might be wrong as well.
- Heroic Sacrifice: It's insisting that Lena climb the border fence ahead of him that causes Alex to be shot by the guards.
- Raven for Pippa, in the third book.
- Hobbes Was Right: The official stance of the government.
"Humans, unregulated, are cruel and capricious; violent and selfish; miserable and quarrelsome. It is only after their instincts and basic emotions have been controlled that they can be happy, generous and good."
- In the Blood: Everyone believes this about the "deliria", which makes Lena's family somewhat unpopular considering what happened to her mother the alleged suicide who's actually a prisoner, and her cousin Marcia's husband, a convicted Sympathizer. Lena herself feels this way at first.
- Kick the Dog: Almost literally. Lena's next door neighbour's dog is savagely beaten by police officers during a raid, and Lena finds him dying in the street.
- La Résistance: The Invalids, groups of un-cured people hiding out in the wilderness between the strictly guarded cities. They occasionally pull pranks, such as sending a herd of cows into a hospital (to imply that all the compliant citizens are mindless cattle) and have a network of spies and sympathizers in the cities. Government propaganda, of course, treats them as Always Chaotic Evil; there's even a children's rhyme that compares Invalids to vampires and werewolves.
- Lena joins them in the sequel.
- Lack of Empathy: Leads to horror when Lena matter-of-factly mentions that after the "cure", some people can get so emotionally detached that they'll kill their own children.
- Lost Common Knowledge: Lena does not know what poetry is.
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: Hana.
- Love Epiphany: Milked for all it's worth, naturally.
- Love Makes You Crazy: The entire population is brainwashed to believe this.
- Love Triangle: It's been set up for the third novel, Requiem, between Julian and Alex.
- Turns into a Love Dodecahedron with the addition of Coral, a rebel girl who seems to have fallen for Alex. At the end of the third book, Alex and Lena reconcile, but Lena realizes she also loves Julian, who loves her back.
- Mad Dictators Handsome Son: Julian. Mr. Fineman isn't technically a dictator, but he's powerful and certainly mad enough.
- The Masquerade: Alex, an Invalid, has a scar on his neck to pass for cured and works as a security guard at the hospital. At one point he uses this persona to let Lena into the prison where her mother was once kept, pretending she's a troublemaker he is frightening into compliance with a prison tour.
- Lena does this in the sequel, pretending to be a Cured so she can assist the resistance.
- Meaningful Name: Lena is short for Magdalena, a name which carries heavy connotations of sin, passion and spirituality - both in the novel's mythology and in real life. Lampshaded by Lena as she wonders what could have possessed her mother to choose such a loaded name.
- Naïve Everygirl: Lena presents herself as this.
- Nephewism: Lena is raised by her aunt and uncle.
- Not Quite Dead: Alex.
- Not So Different: After finding out about how Julian was set up to be "infected", captured and killed in order to tarnish the image of his father's "Deliria-Free America" organization, a furious Lena accuses Raven of being just as callous and inhuman as the Cureds.
- OOC Is Serious Business: When Gracie speaks near the end of the novel, everyone takes notice.
- Orphan's Ordeal: Lena, Gracie and Alex.
- Portmanteau Couple Name: In-universe, a(n officially) nonromantic version. Hana and Lena use their Portmanteau Friendship Name, "Halena", to pump each other up before races and exams.
- P.O.V. Sequel: The online-exclusive novella, Hana, retells parts of Delirium from Hana's perspective. It includes The Reveal that Hana was the one who alerted the authorities to Alex and Lena's relationship.
- Precision F-Strike: When Hana tries to convince Lena to sneak out to an illegal party with her. They get into an intense argument, and when Hana puts her finger on the problem (that Lena is afraid of being like her mother), Lena fires two F-bombs, runs away, and sets out to prove her friend wrong.
- Propaganda Machine: All those "love is evil" texts quoted at the beginning of each chapter.
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Alex, in Pandemonium.
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Lena and Hana, to the point where they come up with a Portmanteau Friendship Name, "Halena"
- Room Full of Crazy: When Lena and Alex visit the Crypts, the combined maximum-security prison and mental institution, they find Lena's mother's empty room with LOVE written all over the walls along with a keepsake from Lena's father.
- Rule-Abiding Rebel: In-universe, Hana. Hana is the one that first introduces Lena to the illegal concerts and thinks differently, but in the end, she decides to go through with the surgery and doesn't accept Lena's offer to run away with her. Also, it is revealed in an online sequel that Hana is the one who revealed Lena and Alex's relationship to the authorities.
- Run for the Border: Alex and Lena. She makes it out; he doesn't.
- Scenery Porn: Who wouldn't want to visit Portland, Maine (that is, the present-day democratic one) after reading this novel?
- Scrapbook Story: Each chapter begins with a children's rhyme or a quote from a historical, medical or religious textbook from Lena's world. Some of them are quite bizarre, such as the rhyming Periodic Table, or the skewed Biblical myths that present Mary Magdalene and Joseph as separated lovers.
- Smitten Teenage Girl: Lena recognizes her own symptoms straight out of the Book of Shh, but falls in love anyway with the first good-looking, nonrelated boy she has an actual conversation with. Somewhat justified since her strictly gender-segregated upbringing has left her completely unprepared for dealing with boys, and Alex is quite the catch.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Not that Lena seeks him at first, but Alex is really very sweet for an Invalid.
- Shout-Out: Lena has a fondness for Romeo and Juliet; even though it is taught as a cautionary tale. Later on, Alex quotes Shakespeare's sonnets to her and, never having heard poetry before, she positively melts. Lauren Oliver has stated that Delirium is "a riff on Romeo and Juliet in a dystopian world".
- Stepford Smiler: Everyone over eighteen as a result of the cure.
- Theme Tune: Written and performed by a David J. DeSmyter.
- Team Mom: Raven in Pandemonium is a tough, no-nonsense version of this.
- The Bluebeard: Fred, Hana's husband-to-be. He had one wife committed for discovering the truth of what he'd done - killed his father and worked with the government to destroy the rebels, and it's implied he's done it several other times.
- The Voiceless: Grace, Lena's cousin is nearly mute in the first book, with Lena only hearing her say "Mommy" at night and "Wait", which she says in order to distract everyone and save Lena, but by the third book she's able to say a few more sentences.
- Took a Level in Badass: Lena breaks herself and Julian out of an underground prison using only their wits and a hidden knife. Later, she and Raven rescue Julian by infiltrating the medical facility where he's about to be executed.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Lena could have been kinder to Julian when she told him who she really was. She's been in his shoes, after all.
- Hana Tate, in the Hana novella, takes about twenty levels in jerkass — which is pretty impressive, considering it happens at the same time as the first book. In Delirium, she's a no-nonsense, supportive, understanding friend who's happy to help Alex and Lena cover their tracks, and even helps Lena while Lena's tied down and under guard despite the risks. In Hana, she's an immature, jealous bitch who deliberately turns Alex and Lena in and almost gets them killed because of her own selfishness.
- Turn Out Like Her Mother: Lena is mortally afraid of turning out like her mother — at first, anyway.
- Twist Ending: Alex getting shot, arrested and possibly killed
- And Averted in the sequel, where Alex shows up alive at the end. Really, who didn't see that coming?
- And in the third, who didn't guess that it was Hana who betrayed Lena, Lena's mother was still alive and that Alex and Lena would get back together?
- Utopia Justifies the Means: The reasoning for curing every citizen of the ability to love as soon as they turn eighteen and sometimes even before that. This is deconstructed over the course of the novel as more social flaws are exposed.
- Wham Line: In Hana: "I'm sorry, Lena."
- Wham Moment: In the second book, Lena discovering her mother is alive , and Alex's return to the group.
- Wild Teen Party: They're illegal, but they happen anyway.
- "World of Cardboard" Speech: Lena's monologue at the end mostly subverts this, as she's not really anyone special and admits it, but somehow manages to play it straight at the same time.
- Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": The massacre that was supposed to wipe out all Invalids two generations ago is called the "Great Sanitation", otherwise known as "the blitz".
- You Are Number Six: At one point, Lena is helped by a mysterious masked woman with a numbered prison tattoo on her neck. Later in Mr. Fineman's hidden study, she finds a record of prisoners and matches the numbers to a name - her own mother's.