After finishing the entire trilogy [Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem] PLUS the novella collection [Delirium Stories: Hana, Annabel, & Raven], I suddenly realized that I have never reviewed a single one of these stories. I didn’t even have any of them started/saved in my drafts. What?!? I don’t know where my brain has been, but this is a problem I need to fix!
Imagine a world in which people were promised a “cure” that could take away all heartache. Peace and happiness for all as long as everyone has a simple procedure? If it sounds too good to be true, that’s probably because it is. Lena has been raised to believe that love is a disease [Amor Deliria Nervosa] and that life without love is the safest and most stable way to live. People don’t fall in love and get married anymore — they get paired based on government-imposed ratings and compatibility of interests. It’s safer and easier to just fall in line, but Lena has a hard time forgetting the mother who could not be cured and whose last words to her, before committing suicide, were “I love you.” Only a few months before her own procedure, Lena has a chance encounter with a young man named Alex. Despite government assurances that all “invalids” [non-cured people living outside of society] have been taken care of, she’s pretty sure Alex *is* an invalid. And when she starts experiencing symptoms of the Deliria, she also starts to question everything she’s ever taken for granted. Is love really a disorder? Does the government really have everyone’s best interests at heart? And, most importantly, should Lena go ahead with her own procedure or follow her heart?
I usually love David Levithan’s books. And I definitely started off loving this book, too. It was great to see an author who would help teens empathize with the people around them by creating a character who lived inside a different body every day and got to experience life from so many different angles. That is, until I got to the day where “A.” woke up as a fat person. I was horrified that Levithan showed so much more compassion for a heroin addict than for someone who weighed “at least 300 pounds.” I mean, I just don’t understand Levithan could insinuate that readers should be more accepting of all the complications that arose from A. living in bodies of people from different ethnicities, socioeconomic classes, and sexual orientations and then be so downright cruel in his descriptions when A. woke up in a fat body. If a person is addicted to food, which this kid Finn very well could have been, just imagine how much harder it could be for him to exist anywhere in society. A heroin addict can always go to rehab and then move away from the area where s/he is likely to run in to his/her old drug dealer and druggie friends… But a fat person can never get away from food — it’s necessary to eat if you want to live! Don’t understand how I can be so livid? Take this paragraph for instance:
When I finally take a look around and take a look inside, I’m not very excited about what I see. Finn Taylor has retreated from most of the world; his size comes from negligence and laziness, a carelessness that would be pathological if it had any meticulousness to it. While I am sure if I access deep enough I will find some well of humanity, all I can see on the surface is the emotional equivalent of a burp.
Sure, Finn could be lazy. But it’s also likely that there is *something* that caused him to “[retreat] from most of the world” and let himself go. I’m sure some people probably love this story and aren’t very upset by this chapter, but I am completely pissed at David Levithan right now.
P.S. I decided to do a quick search to see if anyone else out there had similar feelings about this book, and I was happy to find this review —
— in which Christie Gibrich reacted with just as much indignation as me. So, yay that someone agrees with me, but boo that this is even an issue! /sigh
First of all, I just have to say that I read this book a few years ago and only now realized that I never reviewed it… Shame on me! Second, I feel compelled to tell you all how much I love the complete/crazy-long title of this book — Princess Ben: Being a Wholly Truthful Account of Her Various Discoveries and Misadventures, Recounted to the Best of Her Recollection, in Four Parts — which is a lot! It has such a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Seriously, though, I think it helps to set the tone for the book. Because this is not your typical princess story!
It is true that Princess Ben (short for Benevolence) has been hidden away in a tower by her overbearing aunt, Queen Sophia, since her parents and her uncle (the king) were assassinated. Queen Sophia has plans to marry Ben off to the first mildly suitable man to present himself, but Ben is not the kind of princess who would be content to wait for a prince to come to her rescue. Thanks to her inquisitive/mischievous nature, she manages to find an enchanted room in the tower and begins to teach herself some magic with the books therein. Not only does this magic give her something to do with all of her “free” time, but it also buys her some freedom and increases the odds that she will be able to save both herself and the kingdom from Queen Sophia.
P.S. If you like this story, I also recommend the sequel — Wisdom’s Kiss: A Thrilling and Romantic Adventure Incorporating Magic, Villainy, and a Cat.
Although I don’t generally “do” the whole Twitter thing, I technically have an account through which I [supposedly] follow a few people. One of those people is the amazing John Green and, because I actually read one of my Twitter digests last month, I read this Tweet. Though I hadn’t previously heard about this book, I trusted John Green to know what he was talking about and requested a copy from another library in my system. I absolutely loved it, so I made sure to order a copy for my library AND bumped this book to the top of my “to review” list. FYI, in case you were not aware, I am way better at reading books than following through with reviews, so my “to review” list contains no fewer than 5 books at any given time and often has books that I finished months ago!
You may be wondering, “What was so great about Poison?” How about the fact that it had action, adventure, humor, magic, romance, AND strong female characters all rolled up into a unique fantasy story? Kyra, a potions master, used to be best friends with the princess. Until, that is, she tried to kill her. Since no one seemed to understand that trying to kill the princess was a good thing, she had to run away to avoid being jailed/hanged for the attempted assassination. And, while being the infamous “Princess Killer” made it rather difficult for Kyra to travel through the kingdom unnoticed, her bag of potions and the help of a cute little enchanted pig was enough to give her hope that she could find the princess and finish the job before it was too late…
The only thing I didn’t like about this story, to be honest, was learning that there won’t be a prequel or a sequel [since the author passed away before this book was even published]. I wish I could learn more about Kyra, but I guess it’s better to have loved and lost [a character] than never to have loved at all.
Between the underage drinking and premarital sex, not to mention the foul language, I am pretty sure some people out there will have beef with this book. But, as someone who works with teens and who still vividly recalls her own teen years, I was impressed by Tom Leveen’s unflinching honesty. While I recognize that not all teens are angsty/artistic types who enjoy the punk music scene, I think all teens can gain a little perspective by reading about Amanda (a.k.a. Zero) and her experiences in the summer after high school graduation. After all, most (if not all) teens will have a major fight with a friend, have a crush/fall in love, and argue with their parents. So what if they learn a bad word or two! So what if they read about someone getting drunk or having sex! Most of these things will come up in the “real world” anyway — and, as both a parent and a Tween & Teen Librarian, I would much rather “my” teens have their negative experiences vicariously through a book. This way, at least, they can learn the lessons and then put the heartache back on the shelf.
Happy Banned Books Week!