Study Guide

Delirium Introduction

By Lauren Oliver

Advertisement - Guide continues below

Delirium Introduction

We give up our privacy every day on Facebook, like when we post about hitting up every donut shop in a five-mile radius on National Donut Day. (Maybe that's why we didn't get the job at the fitness center.) We give up certain rights when we travel as well. In the name of safety, we let airport scanners and Transportation Security Administration agents scrutinize us to make sure the only heat we're packing is the bicep muscle kind. To boot, the U.S. National Security Agency is monitoring what we do on the interwebz.

Whether you agree with these safety measures or not, they are totally the kind of thing great writers like George Orwell worried about. So what will we give up next?

What if we gave up the right to love? If this idea sounds sensational, it is. But it's also the perfect concept for a young-adult novel with a seventeen year-old heroine living in a grim future society.

In this society, the government labels love a fatal disease, and develops a cure for it. And they dictate pretty much every other aspect of people's lives while they're at it, all while claiming these extreme measures are necessary for the good of the public. So, take two parts melodrama, one part teen hormones, and a dash of dystopia, and you have the recipe for Delirium.

Published in 2011, Lauren Oliver's Delirium portrays a world where love is against the law. But after meeting the cutest boy in town, our narrator Lena is determined to evade the authorities and live her life as she chooses. Stop in the name of love, indeed.

Delirium is the first book in a trilogy, which continues with Pandemonium, and concludes with Requiem. There are also three novellas that take place between the big doorstopper books, including a prequel. We think the story is really more of a makeout-ology than a trilogy, but the word "makeout-ology" would probably be banned in Lena's world.

Oh, and Delirium was set to be a TV show with Lena played by Emma Roberts, who is famous for the Nickelodeon show Unfabulous and for being Julia Roberts's niece. But Fox rejected the pilot, so maybe the first steps to ban love are already being taken.

Or maybe the show just wasn't that good. The book is almost always better, so now that there won't be a TV show, you have no choice but to read the book. Okay, you do have a choice. We don't live in Lena's dystopian society… yet.

What is Delirium About and Why Should I Care?

Ah, the blossoming feelings of first love. The racing heart. The nervous sweats. The mood swings. The jealousy. The carving of your boyfriend or girlfriend's name into your desk and hiding it so you don't get in trouble.

The feeling that you're just going to die if the relationship doesn't work out. Yikes.

Yes, love has its pros and its cons. Sometimes, you might think: Is it even worth it? Wouldn't life be easier if we didn't have all these hormones coursing through our veins? Well, those are exactly the questions Delirium tries to answer.

And, rather wisely in our opinion, author Lauren Oliver has her characters explore these personal questions about the value of love in a totalitarian society—a world where the government is all up in everyone's business. So, it's not just your opinion on love Oliver wants you to consider in this book, Shmoopers.

Oliver wants you think about whether or not the government should have the right to tell you what you should and shouldn't value. Because even if you're not super into love, there might be someone else who is.

Delirium Resources


From the Mountains of Madness
If you're not yet delirious for Delirium, check out Oliver's website. It's chock full of quotes, questions, reviews, and videos.

Movie or TV Productions

And We've Got a No-Show
The show's pilot may have been rejected faster than Lena rejects Brian Scharff, but its fans haven't given up. Get the latest news—and a peek at the script—on this fan site.

Articles and Interviews

Wish We Knew Then…
Was Lauren (Oliver) like Lena (Ella Haloway Tiddle) when she was a teenager? She tells all, or at least a paragraph's worth, in this interview.

Literary Dinner Party
Oliver talks about her fantasy dinner party list, which involves bringing Henry James back from the dead, in this interview.

Utopian Pleasures
Since most dystopias don't leave room for fancy coffee drinks and strappy stilettos, authors have to talk about them in interviews. Like this one with USA Today.


The Good Book
Shhh no more. Lauren Oliver speaks out about rewriting the Bible, and a few other juicy details about Delirium, in this video interview.

Delirious BookTalk
How do you pronounce "Lena"? This episode of BookTalk with Christine gabs about that and other pressing issues in Delirium.


The Book of Not-Shhh
Don't feel like being quiet? Listen to a sample of the Delirium audiobook here.

The Magician's Pick
Lev Grossman (author of The Magician King) picked Delirium as one of the best sci-fi/fantasy books of 2011. It's in good company.


Lena's ARC
The Advance Reader's Copy of Delirium had a completely different cover. What do you think? Looks a little Kate Chopin's The Awakening to us…

View from the Port(land) Side
Lena has some great views of the Atlantic from her hometown of Portland, Maine. At least our government hasn't outlawed scenic vistas. Yet.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...