What if you lived in a world where love was classified as a disease? Known in seventeen-year-old Lena’s futuristic society as “amor deliria nervosa,” it is something to be feared more than anything else. To catch amor deliria is to lose control, to forget to eat, sleep or work. It even drives some people to their death. That’s why Lena can’t wait to have the procedure that is administered to all teenagers on their eighteen birthdays, a simple operation that divorces you from any feelings of fear and pain. Even though it also stifles excitement, joy and causes some to lose their memories of loved ones, Lena doesn’t care. She’d rather feel nothing than end up like her mother, an emotional woman who, after three procedures, still couldn’t stop exhibiting the terrifying symptoms of love. So she committed suicide rather than go through the operation again. Now Lena’s procedure is coming up. And unlike her mother, she can’t wait to feel safe forever. Then she meets Alex, a boy with “crazy golden brown” eyes who challenges everything she’s ever known to be true about her world. She discovers a hidden society of light and warmth below the cold gray existence she’s been living, and a horrible secret that threatens to tear her very identity apart. And worst of all, she catches amor deliria nervosa. But instead of being terrible, it’s the most wonderful thing she’s ever experienced. Now Lena has to decide if she can continue to live in a world without love. While this title didn’t hit me right here *thumps heart with fist* quite as hard as the author’s debut, Oliver’s prose is still lush, the concept is fascinating and the romance is EPIC. Classics fans will also find thematic shades of The Giver and Brave New World within the pages. The climactic end is both heart-pounding and heart breaking, making it a perfect choice for for sweetie reading around February 2011, when it will be making it’s way into libraries and bookstores.
Please note that there has been absolutely no attempt to balance this list by age, gender or genre. These are just my “from-the-gut” favorites of the books I read this year. (While I love all my Top Ten books the same, I just might love BEFORE I FALL a tiny bit more:) Click on the title to go right to the review.
Anderson, Laurie Halse. FORGE.
Bacigalupi, Paolo. SHIP BREAKER.
Black, Holly & Justine Larbalestier, eds. ZOMBIES VS UNICORNS.
Emond, Stephen. HAPPYFACE.
Green, John & David Levithan. WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON.
Hemphill, Stephanie. WICKED GIRLS.
Oliver, Lauren. BEFORE I FALL.
Oppel, Kenneth. HALF BROTHER.
Yancey, Rick. THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST: CURSE OF THE WENDIGO.
Yovanoff, Brenna. THE REPLACEMENT.