Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Review By: Grace Bannister – 3rd period – Honors 9 English
Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.
Imagine that love is a disease. That it creeps up from nothing and destroys you from the inside out, driving you to madness. Not so unbelievable is it? This is the idea that spawned Lauren Oliver’s novel, Delirium. The book that chronicled the story of Lena Haloway, a young woman awaiting the procedure that would cure her from the most horrible disease known to mankind – love. In the end, I really had some mixed feelings about this book. While the general plot was wonderful, and the writing was powerful, I simply could not connect with the characters. I believe that it was that lack of connection that, sadly, caused me to only give this book three and a half stars.
The main idea of the book was a beautiful concept. It really had a ton of potential. The disease, the cure, and the rebellion were all interwoven fabulously. Oliver made sure to portray how the love cure impacted every kind of relationship – About how familial relationships break without love, about how friendships would change without love, and of course, how one cannot fall in love, if there is an absence of love. Oliver’s beautiful words accentuated her ability to weave a beautiful tapestry of storyline, and really helped make this book a pleasant read.
While reading Delirium, I fell in love with Oliver’s amazing ability to turn words into something powerful and meaningful. One of my favorite quotes from the book was this: “One of the strangest things about life is that it will chug on, blind and oblivious, even as your private world – your little carved-out sphere – is twisting and morphing, even breaking apart. . . .That’s when you realize that most of it – life, the relentless mechanism of existing – isn’t about you. It doesn’t include you at all. It will thrust onward even after you’ve jumped the edge. Even after you’re dead.” ― Lauren Oliver, Delirium. Those words had a quality about them that echoed, that was resounding. It’s absolutely amazing to find someone who can wield words as a tool. Oliver uses her words as a mechanism to deliver profound meaning and depth. Yet, it perplexes me that she could do this, but not be able to give emotion life to her characters.
Delirium’s protagonist, Lena Haloway, was a strong character who really believed in her love for Alex. To me, however, her love felt like a façade. It didn’t seem to me that she truly loved Alex. It felt more like she was in love with the idea of love, and that Alex was just a symbol for that. To her, he was a passionate rebel that was able to give her something of which she had been deprived – love. This made the love story feel transparent to me. I felt no emotional connection to the characters, and to me that is one of the defining factors of a novel.
In the end, I would say that Lauren Oliver’s Delirium was a good read that I would recommend to someone looking for a great plot and beautiful writing. I would, however, advise those seeking an emotional connection to look elsewhere. I feel like this novel will challenge readers to think about love and what it means to them.
Faelorehn by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson
Review By: Grace Bannister – 3rd period – Honors 9 English
Meghan Elam has been strange her entire life: her eyes have this odd habit of changing color and she sees and hears things no one else does. When the visions and voices in her head start to get worse, she is convinced that her parents will want to drag her off to another psychiatrist. That is, until the mysterious Cade MacRoich shows up out of nowhere with an explanation of his own.
What if you had lived your entire life believing that you were crazy? What if you had seen all of the doctors, taken all of the pills, and listened to all of the explanations, but to no avail? What if, one day, someone showed up with an explanation for it all? What if that explanation could change your life forever? This is what happened to Meghan Elam, a high school senior who has finally found the key to her mysterious past. That key comes in the form of Cade MacRoich, a young man who claims to be from the Otherworld. A magical land from Celtic legend – and Meghan’s homeland. This story was exceptional, and kept me interested throughout. My favorite components were likely the unusual mythology, unusual creatures, and interesting setting.
In all of my years of reading, this is the first story centered on Celtic myth that I have read. I very much enjoyed the unusual focus, and was very interested in learning about the mythology behind it. I was introduced to many Celtic deities that I had never known to exist. I also learned a bit about the epic of Cuchulainn. All of that put together, and wrapped up with a nice plot made for a great story. All in all, the target was unique and the myth unusual.
Most books dealing with mythology are filled with fantastic creatures, and Faelorehn was no exception. This story, however, dealt with amazing beasts of which I had no prior knowledge. I especially found the tale of the Celtic spirit guides to be highly fascinating. Cade’s spirit guide, Fergus, was a great dog that I grew to love. The explanation of spirit guides was very nicely wrought. It was brief but clear. “Fergus is a spirit guide. He is connected to me. Spirit guides are hard to find, but they remain attached to their Faelorehn companion for life.” (- Cade Macroich, pg. 222) However, the Faelah also piqued my interest. The Faelah – gnomes, Cumorrig, and the Puca – were all more or less unfamiliar to me. At least, their Celtic versions were new. It was very nice to see all sorts of different creatures crossing into our world.
The setting of Faelorehn was also very original. True, the small-town feeling has become rather common in modern YA literature, however, other stories are often set in very remote areas. In Faelorehn, Meghan Elam is said to live in Arroyo Grande – a beautiful, California town situated near the coast. This town was a perfect place for the story to unfold, and was described rather beautifully. I often felt as if I could feel the forest around me. It was wonderful to be able to feel as if I had been transported by the story. I believe that only a good authors can give this effect, and I tip my hat to Johnson for having the ability to do so.
In conclusion, Faelorehn was a splendid book that I took pleasure in reading. The other two novels consecutive to this story were brilliant as well, and I would highly recommend the entire series. Readers who enjoy unusual tales, fantastical creatures, and a lovely setting would likely enjoy Faelorehn, and the entire Otherworld Trilogy.
Elfin by Quinn Loftis
Review By: Grace Bannister – 3rd period – Honors 9 English
Before tonight Cassie Tate’s biggest concerns were whether she could pass Algebra and how she was going to keep Elora, her best friend, from dressing her in a skimpy fairy costume for Halloween. Her feet were firmly planted in suburban reality and she had no reason to believe her life would be anything but that of a typical teenager. That is until tonight, when Cassie saw something that no human was ever supposed to see; in the blink of an eye she was thrown into the world of the Light and Dark Elves.
He comes from a realm where light and dark have fought for millennia. He is of a race known to humans only in myths and legends. The darkness that lives inside him is a part of both who and what he is and it makes him the most gifted spy and assassin in the history of his time. His life is not his own; he lives in the service of the Dark Elf King. He slays who he must, has mercy on no one, is relentless in his hunt, and never tires of seeing his prey fall. He is Triktapic, assassin, spy, most feared of the Dark Elves.
Now, in the midst of his King’s complicated plans to expand the Dark Elves’ holdings into the mortal realm, for the first time, Trik finds his loyalties divided. For no Elf, Dark or Light, can turn away from their Chosen.
Unbeknownst to the mortal realm, the battle between Light and Dark is being brought to their doorstep. The only one who can keep it at bay holds darkness in his heart like a lover, and the one who can sway that heart must decide if she can look beyond his black past, beyond his evil nature and see the man he is destined to be.
The questions must be asked, does love really cover a multitude of sins? Can true love actually conquer all or will his darkness consume those around him until all that stands is an assassin with the blood of the mortal realm on his hands?
Imagine finding the other half of your soul, the one person who could complete you as you complete them, and then finding out that you are on separate sides of the same war. In Elfin, the first book in the Elfin Series, author Quinn Loftis explores the idea of true love between two opposing sides – good and evil, light and dark. This story deals with the main themes of love conquering the sins of the past, and love bringing out the best in even the darkest person, and essentially the line between right and wrong. As I have read all of her works excepting one, I find that Loftis has an amazing gift for portraying strong love and devotion between two people, all the while keeping the story PG to mildly PG-13 rated. This book set me through a rollercoaster of emotions, which for me, makes it great because it made me feel something. I believe that the original plot, the powerful emotion, and the well-constructed characters were the elements that made this book a personal favorite.
I always love a unique plot. I absolutely cannot stand it if the storyline is something I’ve read before, and this book definitely did not disappoint. Admittedly, the idea of accidently running into your supernatural soul mate is rather common in today’s YA literature. However, the events and complications that transpired afterwards were complex and completely original. I enjoyed how the main characters were always struggling with internal conflict, along with the external main conflicts. It was great to see the character of Trik fight the internal battle against his dark nature, whilst also struggling to maintain his life with Cassie and find his destiny in the elfin world. Most fans of the fantasy/romance genres will find themselves captivated by the highly exciting and original plot of Elfin.
I must say that my favorite part of any book is always the emotion. If I can’t feel what the character feels, then I find myself holding the author accountable for not doing their job. It always makes me sad to have a good plot tainted by poor, pathetic attempts to make the reader feel. Thankfully, Elfin was filled with powerful emotion from cover to cover. I could feel Cassie and Trik’s love, pain, anger, and confusion at their situation and the world around them. Every bit of the emotion seemed real, and it always astounds me to come across a writer so endowed with the ability to put such soul into their writing. In my opinion emotion is the foundation of every good book, and Elfin was brimming with it.
The third element of this book that stood out to me was the well-developed characters. The female protagonist was very believable and identifiable. Her reactions to everything thrown at her were all very realistic and I enjoyed that. It was also rather intriguing to have the male love interest be someone who was essentially evil. He was a very dynamic character and his background was well told and believable – even though most of it was withheld until later in the book. I also immediately grew fond of the character of Elora (Cassie’s sharp-tongued, gothic best friend). In all of her works, Loftis has the tendency to include such a supporting character, and I tend to be quite a fan. This type of character often provides some comic relief and is a supporting backbone for the protagonist. Readers often fall in love with these “sidekicks” – I know I do. The characters in Elfin, including the ones not mentioned here, all quickly became some of my favorites of all time.
In conclusion, I have officially given Elfin a spot on my list of favorite books. I recommend it to fans of emotional stories and I definitely plan to read the next book, Rapture, when it is released. I have to know what happens after that cliff hanger ending! It was all in all a great read and I must say that Mrs. Loftis is fabulous author. In Elfin, she definitely created a fantastic plot, intense emotion, and some seriously amazing characters.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
By: Grace Bannister – 3rd period – Honors 9 English
Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.
Imagine being alone. Imagine carrying a horrible secret that you couldn’t bring yourself to share – not even with yourself. This is the reality of Melinda Sordino, the main character in Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak. This story chronicles the freshman year of Sordino as she struggles to come to terms with the horrifying events of last summer, all the while being mindlessly hated by her peers for busting an end-of-summer party by calling the police. Anderson beautifully captures the emotions of a young teen girl trying to make it through high school as an outcast whilst struggling to cope with every woman’s nightmare – rape. This novel brought me to feel real compassion for Melinda. I most enjoyed how Anderson captured the emotion of Melinda, how she forced readers to confront a difficult situation, and how she used very casual language to help her readers fall into the shoes of the character.
In Speak, I found the emotion to be raw and gripping. The story kept me in an emotional rollercoaster as I followed Melinda’s heart wrenching journey to acceptance. It was almost as if I could feel the glares of my peers, the crushing weight of reality, and the horrible pain that accompanied acceptance of the truth. My heart ached for Melinda and I felt awful when reflecting upon the cruel hand she was dealt. The injustice of it all screamed at me. No one, and I am adamant when I say NO ONE, should have to feel the grisly violation of rape. The fact that she was shunned by her peers for an act committed in drunken fear and confusion was appalling. The cruelty of people always leaves me stunned, especially when her former best friend admitted her hate. In this story, I could feel Melinda’s pain as she struggled to choke out the painful words of her story. The emotion in this novel was astonishingly real and very easy to find within myself as I read.
Despite my love of the emotional aspect of this selection, my favorite part of Speak was simply Melinda’s situation. The concept was somewhat frightening for me because, like most people, I had always looked at rape as something that happened to other people, not me. I imagine that most people found it intimidating to read about a girl that could be anyone – a friend, a family member, the girl next door, or even you – because it brought a much needed reality check. Rape, although it be a gruesome fact, can happen to anyone. The worst part though, in my opinion, is that judging from Melinda’s silence, it may have already happened to someone you or I know. The concept was controversial and gripping. The subject matter was something that seemed to be plucked from the deepest fears of millions. I believe that this is what really made this book a winner.
The language and tone of this novel was yet another thing that I thoroughly enjoyed. The language was understandable and not too difficult for less avid readers, but it was also very effective at conveying the story in a detailed manner. I find that many authors have difficulty in this area and Anderson seems to have a rare talent for it. Even the unusual format for the chapters was something that excited me in its uniqueness. I enjoyed how the timeline was aided by revealing the seasons and grading periods. It was definitely a new style and was pleasant for readers.
All in all, the novel was a delightful read and I completely understand the praise of Anderson’s work. The ending was a fabulous conclusion to Melinda’s story. I recommend this story to readers who want a realistic, emotional story that will keep them captivated. I feel like this novel will challenge readers to think about the awful reality that some people must endure. Melinda is a character for whom you can feel true appreciation. Speak was just what I was looking for with its raw emotion, intense situation, and understandable language.