x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Book Review: No love lost here

Delirium is set in a near-future where love has been declared a disease and all 18-year-olds must undergo an operation to prevent it.

Delirium is set in a near-future where love has been declared a disease and all 18-year-olds must undergo an operation to prevent it. It's a world devoid of human emotion and familial love but free of wars, because everyone lives in a state of passionless contentment.

Lena Haloway is 17. Three months before her procedure she finds herself struggling with the disease known as amor deliria nervosa - or rather the pangs of first love for an "uncured" boy called Alex.

This young-adult novel starts promisingly enough as Lena announces that it is 43 years since scientists perfected their lobotomy. The trouble is, little else is explained.

We are never told how America arrived at this state. Neither is it clear why an operation to prevent love also seems to sap logic and resistance from subjects. Too many unanswered questions make the novel's world unbelievable. Meanwhile, Oliver's depiction of a supposedly terrifying regime is so derivative of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, it's as if she's had her capacity for original thought removed. Do your teenagers a favour - buy them a copy of 1984 instead.