Delirium

 photo book-delirium.jpg
 photo Delirium.jpg

Good lord Delirium is a terrible book.

You know Matched? This is basically the scifi original movie of Matched, only shortly after being hired the writer went on a bender, forgot the plot along with their own name, and just threw every dystopian and YA cliche into the pot to try to pad it out and hope no one would notice. Also, worse acting. You may wonder how anything, let alone a book, could have worse acting than made for TV movies, and the answer is I don’t know but somehow it’s happening. This book is kind of like the Necronomion that way, except somehow it’s hideously boring and bland despite warping reality in its failures.


Right from the start, the writing is just this side of serviceable. It’s bland, flat, and kind of boring. But I read fanfic, so my standards for entertainment are hideously low and I just ask that something happen. At first, it seems it will. The book isn’t clear about if it’s talking about all love or just romantic, but you can get some milage out of the idea love has bad effects.

Then we learn it’s all love they’ve getting rid of (but somehow murdering your kids is something that only happens in “a few” cases, which is what it is currently, and there’s no other problems like the kids being so messed up they can barely function) and also as a side effect it kills your ability to enjoy life in general. They mostly can’t dream, but will occasionally have dreams of doing a repetitive task they can never finish. ALSO the process for doing it is agonizingly painful and if the procedure doesn’t take and they have to do it again they put you under awake. BECAUSE THEY’RE EVIL DO YOU GET IT. Oh, and they’re somehow still religious but rewrote the bible to be about the evils of love, because blasphemy. How these people could even have a concept of faith at this point is beyond me.

Oh, and teens (specifically girl teens because girls are so hysterical) commit suicide before the procedure can be done all the time, and since their primary problem is suicide the facilities are covered in barbed wire and pointy stuff to stop them from escaping alive. Because! Evil!

This is the high point of the book. It goes downhill from here.

I have read many bad books in service of your entertainment here, and many more because of my own bad judgement. But when I’m complaining about nothing happening in Beautiful Creatures, I still wanted to keep reading. It was frustrating because it takes time to write these and in that time I’m seeing so little that’s interesting, but that just makes me want to blow through the book at speed and find out the explanation or that there isn’t one.

I started trying to do this chapter by chapter, and got bored out of my skull a few lines into the third, which let me tell you, is not something I should be saying about a book with torture and rape themes. So then I decided to just read the damn thing, and kept getting distracted by how staring into space was so super interesting instead. This book has been on my computer for a while when I had nothing better to do and it turned out that nothing actually had some good points in its favor. I ended up forcing my way through it mostly on outrage it could be so terribly boring.

So. Here we go.

Remember Matched? They match people based on personality traits too! That makes sense given the whole no-love thing. Also, you’re matched by being questioned for hours by a couple people while naked wearing clothes that are completely see through. Why? BECAUSE. And the main character is terrified of not doing well enough on her exams because if she isn’t allowed to go to college she has to get married now and have sex because of course this needed more rape subtext of course. Not that it’s clear why she’s going to college when her aunt is given as an example of a good match: he was a successful scientist, she cooked all his meals and tutored kids in piano because she was so bored the rest of the time. Everyone in the main character’s family is hoping she matches well because it’ll mean getting more money from the husband’s job. (We know women can theoretically work, since one of the people interviewing her is female – I think this is just a matter of the author thinking none of this through.) All this over something completely pointless as the mandatory love-removal drastically changes your personality and would invalidate the test.

Also despite people no longer feeling emotion and this being done by a committe, there’s still a chance of hot eighteen year old girls getting matched to eighty year old men, and yes, only young girls and ancient guys despite the fact that women die less often than men so you’d have extra old women, not old men. Because remember, no matter what happens, it will always be worse to be female. Even if we carve out people’s ability to care about anything at all, they will still find a way to hate women.

And no, I don’t think you get a pass just because it’s a “dystopia”. When you have women’s lives sucking for absolutely no reason, in outright defiance of how your world supposedly works, what you’re saying is not that sexism is wrong, just that sexism is inescapable and we might as well just give up because it’s just the nature of reality.

Anyway.

To accomplish a good marriage she’s supposed to lie to sound perfect, which you’d think would be treason and also lead to everyone saying the same things and just generally defeat the whole point of matching based on personality traits. But she freaks out at the thought of how her mom had to go through multiple treatments to cure her of feeling love and starts blurting out the wrong stuff, like how beautiful Romeo and Juliet was and jesus fuck book even dumbass teens saying that generally say it without READING it and this girl supposedly did so even if she suddenly decided love is ~sooo beatifullll! she should still recognize that Romeo and Juliet is the story of two idiots committing suicide for no damn reason. I’m sure their teacher also pointed out how Romeo starts off the play explaining how he’s in true love 4eva with some other girl to illustrate how people in love think it’s forever but it’s not, so if you feel like you really love someone and don’t want the procedure, you’ll forget about them even without it! The only beautiful thing about the play is the iambic pentameter (and okay, the other wordplay, but that’s getting more impenetrable with each year that passes), and I’m pretty sure these people don’t put on plays so it’s only read. Also, this world makes even more sense than Matched to just destroy all pre-dystopian literature. It’s not like any of the people post-lobotomy are even capable of caring about it.

Anyway, it just keeps piling on the dystopia. There’s draconian curfew, constant scrutiny and spying, death or multiple life sentences if anyone says you might maybe be a sympathizer, being operated on without anesthesia, being operated on early with the risk of crippling side effects if they think you’re too flirty…(something that, for some reason, is only talked about with the girls. Teenage boys have somehow all discovered self-control at once.) And the rewriting the bible to be about their new beliefs in hating love and also some science because science is super evil, of course.

Oddly, the characters are actually sort of good. The dystopia in general is a pile of shit, but the one thing the author manages is writing them as actual members of the dystopia – the main character is absolutely terrified of love and completely supports the administration and their many abuses, the fixed adults barely care about each other or their children…EXCEPT FOR THE OTHER TEENAGE CHARACTERS WHO MAKE UP MOST OF THE BOOK.

There’s this great scene midway through where the main character’s older sister is relating the mildly interesting story of how last draconian police abuse day, they were pulled out of their house and had to wait in the snow for hours and her young son ended up with pneumonia and almost died, so it was very inconvenient. It can’t save the fact the majority of the plot is stupid teens doing stupid rebellious emotion-feeling stuff because music is so important and dates are so important you guys even though the jackbooted police are so psychotically over the top evil they literally kick a dog to death at one point.

It really stops being a story about an anti-love dystopia pretty quick in favor of just being a story about living in Sucktown, Dystopialand, and there is nothing at all surprising here. The closest to interesting it got was waiting for what new chunk of dystopia would get crammed in, and all of that was pretty bog-standard too. (Oh, also despite the procedure killing your ability to feel, apparently guys can still get off on hurting and killing people, as illustrated repeatedly by the cops! Sadism is apparently not an emotion.)

In this hideous nightmare of a society, the plot begins with the REBEL LOVE ALLIANCE disrupting the not-Matched personality quiz time. They do this by rerouting a car full of cows to release into the building and sticking wigs on them to make a point about how everyone is sheeple. Again, hideous nightmare society where if you’re lucky they only torture you to death for being suspected of having feelings instead of keeping you to torture you forever, and their response is a high school prank.

She sees a boy looking down and laughing at this, and later she runs into him again and he says he’s cured and she believes him but he very obviously is part of the love rebels, which she doesn’t get, although you’d think the fact he displays emotion at all would be a clue since deadening that is a side effect of killing love, and he tells her to meet him but it’s at a time too near curfew so she goes but then she leaves again without saying hi. Then more on the dystopia and it sucking for a while. Then her friend finds out about a ~secret concert~ because the LOVE REBELS are really pathetic and she goes and she meets the boy again and he’s hitting on her while telling her she has nothing to fear because he’s cured and safe and can’t hurt her. He literally says that to her.

They go on a not-a-date and when she’s out in the water with him far from any help he ends up confessing that he’s from the outside and his cure scar is fake. It’s rather skeevily done, especially because he lured her into this by repeatedly telling her it was safe to be around him because he’s cured, and it’s hard to believe someone infiltrating so well wouldn’t know that teens would be terrified by a confession of love. Anyway, they end up dating and he even takes her across the border to show off where he lives when he’s not living in the settled love-free zones and other stupid shit that’s really risky and him getting caught would probably compromise lots of other people but who cares right he’s in love which is totally not evil despite the fact everything major he does for it ranges form a mistake to a mistake that could lead to lots of people being tortured for the rest of their life. He also says that Romeo and Juliet is tots a real love story, so while the dystopia’s weird claims that love literally gives you heart attacks may be baseless, apparently it does cause brain damage.

There is nothing in this book that’s a surprise, at least once you get over the initial WHY ARE YOU TAKING SO MANY RISKS STOP IT WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU part. The closest is a late reveal that instead of committing suicide, her mom was locked up in super misery prison, which comes out of nowhere followed by learning about her somehow escaping to somewhere somehow. They don’t even try to explain how the fuck she did that. The main character makes a big deal of this because it proves love didn’t make her mom kill herself. No explanation whatsoever is given for why the government would cover anything up in the first place when locking people up forever is their established punishment for feeling love that everyone supports.

Well, also like halfway through we find out that apparently they literally teach that love is a wasting disease and you will die from it in short order, just to be clear that this dystopia is founded on nonsense and insanity. I mistakenly thought it was at least high enough quality to be presenting a world where people were objecting to love’s actual traits and not a bunch of nonsense. Then again, by the end of the book it appears to literally be a wasting disease because fuck if I know.

For most of the book her best friend helps conceal their relationship, but when the main character finally says that she’s planning to escape with him and not have the procedure, well, suddenly people find out. I got the impression her friend was gay (super close, apparently had no interest in the main charcter’s boyfriend despite him being about the only game in town love-wise, incredibly bothered by getting matched to her future husband, expecting her friend to get the brainwipe procedure and stay with her rather than picking the boyfriend even knowing they probably wouldn’t even care about each other afterward and would just go their separate ways…), which would just be the perfect capstone for a story all about how great love is when it’s between a girl and a guy. Apparently there’s another 1.5 ebook that’s from her POV, so someone who hasn’t been bored out of their skull by this can see if that’s about how her lesbianism makes her evil or if the moral is just that all girls will inevitably betray girls so don’t even bother with friendship.

There are a few good things, shockingly. As I said, the main character and non-teenage side characters are good and show the world they’re in rather than having informed characteristics and then acting like people in our world. The cast is mostly female, and we have dead female parents who actually matter – the main character’s mother supposed commits suicide because she doesn’t want to stop loving her daughter, and this is what she keeps coming back to, not whatever happened to her dad. Her best friend is far prettier than her, and she’s okay with that, we get good talk about how beauty can be a double-edged sword for girls that also gets into the fact not being beautiful isn’t great either, and her friend does spend almost all the book supporting her relationship and not being jealous, and ultimately acts to prevent her from leaving, not to steal her boyfriend. The main character lives with her aunt and barely mentioned uncle, as well as her aunt’s female grandchildren – because their father was suspected to be a “sympathizer” with the love thing, and promptly ran off because if you’re suspected, they always convict, usually killing and sometimes giving you multiple life sentences (because HEY LOOK EVIL) and because he was gone they decided to convict his wife instead, because obviously women’s lives must always and forever suck, and then she has a heart attack and all things heart-related are considered to mean you were sick from love so everyone looks down on the family. But the point is, the guy is barely in the story, just there to explain why bad shit happened to the woman and her daughters. One of her kids is traumatized and it’s by her mom’s absence, just like the main character.

Of course, the kid’s also portrayed like she’s got an actual mental illness but it’s just part of her being a special little angel, and the main character hates the kid’s sister (who is NINE what the hell is your problem) on the basis she looks severe and has an annoying voice.

But at least it’s a story where women mostly notice other women. That’s one of the things I’ve really liked about Not A Villain – main character is a girl and then her social circle ends up being all about other girls and women. The couple boy characters? Why, they’re friends with each other and connected to another important male character. Just like how most people, especially at their age, tend to operate within same-gender spheres.

Also, gay people canonically exist. Just barely, but they squeak out a mention! See, to prevent love from happening they segregate the genders but very very very rarely two girls or two boys will fall in love, as opposed to all the time since the other kids are their only companions. Which does make it more likely that yes, her friend was acting because lesbians will betray their crushes to the torturepolice to keep them around while heterosexuals will die to save their crushes from the torturepolice. But at least it didn’t just magically disappear from the series of unspecified disasters that led people to decide to cure love and murder everyone who didn’t agree.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *