Delirium Summary

Lauren Oliver


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Delirium Summary

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics.  This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Delirium by Lauren Oliver.

Delirium, Lauren Oliver’s dystopian young adult novel, was published in 2011 by Harper Collins. Oliver says she was inspired to write a novel about love after reading an essay by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who said that all books were either about love or death. As her first book was about death, love was the next logical step. Watching a news report about a pandemic, the two ideas combined to form Delirium. The novel is the first installment in a trilogy, the second being Pandemonium and the third,Requiem. Oliver wrote several other books, two set between the first and second book, and another set between the second and third book, which were later compiled into one book, Delirium StoriesHana, Annabel, and Raven. Another book, Alex, was also released between the first and second books. Delirium was a New York Times bestseller, and received largely favourable reviews. An adaptation into a television show was planned; Fox ordered a pilot to be made. Emma Roberts was cast as one of the main characters,the writers and executive producers were chosen and began work. Later on, Fox declined to pick up the pilot; instead, it was picked up by Hulu and made available for streaming for a limited time in 2014.

As the story begins, seventeen-year-old Lena lives in Portland, Maine, which, like all other US cities, is surrounded by guards and electric fences to bar passage. No one is ever allowed in and no one is ever allowed out. “Out” is called the Wilds, the areas in between the cities and outside of civilization. There are rumoured to be people called “Invalids”living out there who have refused to be “cured.” The government, however, denies these people exist.

Lena is waiting for her birthday, when she will be given a procedure that will remove all of her pain. The procedure will actually prevent her from ever falling in love. In this world, falling in love is considered a disease. Before they are cured, Lena and Hana, her best friend, plan to spend the summer together.

Lena goes in for an evaluation, during which she will undergo an oral exam and will be assigned a mate by the government. Lena messes up the exam; the evaluation is suddenly interrupted by Invalids staging a protest. The Invalids loose cows into the labs, and Lena sees a boy laughing in the observation area above her evaluation. Later, she sees him again and finds out his name is Alex. She believes he is a security guard who has already been cured.

Hana begins to listen to underground music. She also starts going to illegal parties, and Lena is frightened for what will happen to Hana if someone discovers she is breaking the rules. Because of this, the two girls begin to drift apart, but not before Alex appears before Lena again, at one of the illegal parties. They talk and agree to meet each other at the beach the next day. Unfortunately, Alex tells Lena he is not cured, but is an Invalid who grew up in the Wilds outside of the cities. Lena is terrified and runs away.

Lena is more frightened than ever. She tries to go back to her normal, good life. She tries to behave, to follow all of the rules, and does not see Hana or Alex for some time. Then one day, when Lena knows Hana is going to be at one of the illegal parties, the government has a raid. They are looking everywhere for illegal activity. Lena cannot help but go to warn Hana, but she is too late. Alex is there and saves her from the raiding party, which has batons and attack dogs. During the frenzy, Alex and Lena kiss, and Lena realises she is beginning to fall in love.

Lena has a change of perspective. She begins to spend more and more time with Hana and Alex, as the summer goes by. Lena visits the Wilds, but is still reluctant to run away there. Then Lena makes a chilling discovery. Her mother, whom she had always been told had committed suicide, was actually locked away under the city, in a dungeon-like place called the Crypts. She had escaped and run away into the Wilds. Lena’s world falls apart; she feels betrayed by her family and society. She decides to run away with Alex. They make plans, but Lena is found after curfew at an abandoned house. She is tied up, and her procedure is rescheduled to happen immediately. Alex is able to come to her rescue, and they run for the border, where Alex sacrifices himself so that Lena can be free.