Delirium by Lauren Oliver

May is Dystopic
 Dystopia,"a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding," is a hot genre right now. The Hunger Games has paved the way, so here are some other great titles to whet your appetite.

Imagine a world without love: a world where love is considered a disease. Amor deliria nervosa is the condition that brought about so much turmoil and pain. As The Book of Shh says, "The most dangerous sicknesses are those that make us believe we are well." That is the world that Lena lives in. Her procedure is mere days away, and she cannot wait for the cure that will rid her of the thing which killed her mother.

Her mother killed herself when the cure failed to work for her. After that, Lena came to live with her Aunt Carol and her family. In this safe space, she has grown up wanting to escape her mother's fate. In this world, the sexes are kept separate until they are "cured" on their 18th birthday. Before that, the cure can have disasterous effects. Finally, the day for her evaluation is here...

But it's interrupted by a stampede of renegade cows! She glimpses a boy above her watching the chaos, and laughing! Is he responsible for what happened? Another day, she and her best friend Hana go for a run, and happen to run into him. Alex is a guard for the facility. They have to watch themselves around him. He has the mark of the cure, so they don't need to be to careful...right?

When Hana sneaks out to go to an illegal concert, Lena refuses. She begins to feel guilty, and is compelled to meet her. Arriving to a house full of 500 kids, she is overwhelmed. She finds Hana, who is with a boy! And runs into Alex! Sparks are flying between them, and she can hardly believe that she is doing it, but she agrees to meet him again.

The more time they spend together, the more it seems clear that she is falling for him. The symptoms are clear: "preoccupation; racing thoughts; difficulty focusing; sweaty palms," (Oliver pg. 147, 2011). She is contracting amor deliria nervosa just like her mother. Meanwhile the date for her cure draws ever closer. The thing she most wanted is now her biggest fear.

Alex's biggest secret is yet to be revealed, as there is more to him that there appears. Lena is falling deeper and deeper in love with him. It seems impossible that something could come between them. As the fateful day approaches, can Lena and Alex find a way to be together? Great read for high school, especially fans of dystopia and romance. Well written prose, and interesting premise.
"Every beat of silence seems to stretch into an infinity, and I'm pretty sure Alex must think I'm a mute. But then he flicks a half-buried seashell out of the sand and hurls it into the ocean, and I realize he's not uncomfortable at all. After that I relax. I'm even glad for the silence.          Sometimes I feel like if you just watch things, just sit still and let the world exist in front of you - sometimes I swear that just for a second time freezes and the world pauses in its tilt. Just for a second. And if you somehow found a way to live in that second, then you would live forever," (Oliver pg. 153, 2011).
Oliver, Lauren. (2011). Delirium. New York: Harper.

Legend by Marie Lu

Day is the Republic's Most Wanted Criminal. He is known for making them look stupid, and inciting sympathy from the crowd. His appearance is unknown, his true name and history are unknown. He is a master of disguise and agility...or so the Republic would have you believe.

The Republic of America is located in Los Angeles. This is the remnants of our great civilization. They are constantly at war against the Colonies located outside the "safe sectors." The plague ravages the slum-sectors, those unable to afford the cure.
June is the Republic's rising new hope. She is the first to gain a perfect score on her Trial, the test which determines the course of your future in this new world. It measures your intelligence, agility, strategic ability, and writes your ticket to either fame and fortune. Unless you are one of the unlucky ones (like Day) who fail, and end up in labor camps. June however, has a full ride to Drake University. With her brother already a star of the Republic, her future looks bright.

That fateful day when Day returns home for a surreptitious visit, and learns that his brother has been stricken with the also the day that he decides to break into the hospital for a cure.

That is the day June's brother Metias is killed. By Day, she is told by Commander Jameson, who is her newest target. She is inducted into the Republic's army, and put on the task of finding the criminal.

She walks the streets to find him, gets caught up in a Skiz fight, and is rescued by a beautiful boy. He takes her in, and cares for her wounds, he even steals a kiss. She can hardly believe she is falling for this slum kid, until a careless move on his part sets her off. Could this be the boy she has been looking for?

He genuinely cares for this girl, but he has bigger problems. His brother still needs a plague cure, suppressants won't do much good for long. He needs to raise the money fast, and stay off the Republic's radar. The last time was too close for comfort. When they do come for him and his family, he is caught completely off guard. How did they find him? Then he sees her, the girl...

She thinks she can finally begin to heal, but things aren't adding up. Who should she believe? If only her brother were here to help. Her brother's best friend Thomas carries out brutal orders without blinking, and her opinion of him has changed. Could Day's accusation that the plague is created and released onto the population possibly be true? Is Day telling the truth about not killing her brother?

As Day's execution day draws near, the need for answers or assistance becomes imperative. Will June learn the truth before it's too late? Will she like the answers she finds? Set in the dystopian future of LA, this is a quick read, fast paced and interesting. It holds many common themes of this genre, recommended for middle and high school.
“'Each day means a new twenty-four hours. Each day means everything's possible again. You live in the moment, you die in the moment, you take it all one day at a time.' He looks toward the railway car's open door, where streaks of dark water blanket the world. 'You try to walk in the light,'" (Lu, 2011).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Divergent by Veronica Roth

Lu, M. (2011). Legend. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

The future is bleak. The trees are no longer green. The clouds are no longer white. The animals are dying; birds don't fly. Weather is erratic at best. The Reestablishment promised things would be better, but they are killing what is left of the culture. They want to remake the language, eliminate writing.

Juliette is alone. She has been this way for 264 days. No human contact, until today... They tell her she is getting a roommate. She knows the danger this holds, and isn't sure what to think. She craves the closeness of another human more than she cares to admit, but she knows it can never be. When he arrives, she thinks she knows him. Adam. She's disappointed happy he doesn't recognize her.

They form a slow friendship, although she is still very cautious. She doesn't trust anyone after what she has endured. There are things about her that are poisonous, dangerous, lethal. Her touch has killed before.

Suddenly, they are ripped from their prison and taken to the Reestablishment. More importantly, she is taken to Warner. He is a cruel boy, hardly older than she, and he wants to use her power for his own gain. The craziest part is that he wants her to want to help him. As if she would ever see eye to eye with a killer... or could she? Sometimes the things he says give her pause.

Meanwhile, her attachment to Adam grows, despite herself. As time passes, she begins to believe that he truly is on her side. Can they find a way to escape from this trap?

"His hand is scorching my skin through the layers of fabric and I inhale so fast my lungs collapse. I'm caught in colliding currents of confusion, so desperate so desperate so desperate to be close so desperate to be far away. I don't know how to move away from him. I don't want to move away from him. 
I don't want him to be afraid of me.
'Hey.' His voice is so soft so soft so soft. His arms are stronger than all the bones in my body. He pulls my swaddled figure close to his chest and I shatter. Two three four fifty thousand pieces of feeling stab me in the heart, melt into drops of warm honey that soothe the scars in my soul," (Mafi pg 39, 2011). 
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Mafi, T. (2011). Shatter me. New York: HarperTeen.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In the future, there are five factions: Candor (honesty), Abnegation (selflessness), Dauntless (bravery), Amity (peacefulness), and Erudite (intelligence). Each 16 year old must make a choice: stay with the faction you were raised in, or choose another. Prior to this choice, aptitude tests are administered to guide the initiates into their most appropriate faction. Some people cannot be categorized as one faction. These people are "Divergent".
Beatrice has lived her entire life devoted to the selfless principles of Abnegation. As the day of the Choosing Ceremony grows closer, her certainty waivers. Her aptitude test has only made her feel even more at odds: she is Divergent, a fact she cannot share even with those closest to her, for fear of retribution. Those who fall into this category tend to disappear.

Faced with the decision to follow her heart, or remain with her family, she is torn. However, when she walks up to make her choice, her courage wins out. Beatrice becomes Tris of the Dauntless. A rigorous initiation follows, and those who fail will be labeled as Factionless - homeless, adrift, and without resources. Their first task? Jump onto a moving train...

As Tris begins to accept her new self, she is blacklisted at first for being from Abnegation. Soon, however, she befriends other initiates. They begin to develop their strength as well as their skill. She gets a tattoo, a common signpost of the Dauntless. She even starts crushing on their instructor, Four. She can't help it, he's gorgeous! And smart, and brave, and strong. Some of the other initiates are not quite as nice. They are used to getting their way, and will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Initiation is nearing the final stage: a 3D visualization of your individual fears. Each initiate must face their fears, and move past them to become one of the Dauntless. Can Tris face up to all the insecurities she holds?

Great for fans of The Hunger Games, Roth does a superb job of painting a bleak future. The main characters are well developed for the most part, and the action is fast paced. Recommended for high schoolers.
“Every faction conditions its members to think and act a certain way. And most people do it. For most people, it's not hard to learn, to find a pattern of thought that works and stay that way. But our minds move in a dozen different directions. We can't be confined to one way of thinking, and that terrifies our leaders. It means we can't be controlled. And it means that no matter what they do, we will always cause trouble for them," (Roth, 2011).

*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:

Roth, Veronica. (2011). Divergent. New York: Katherine Tegen Books.