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by Oliver, Lauren

Book list Oliver's follow-up to her smash debut, Before I Fall (2010), is another deft blend of realism and fantasy. The hook is irresistible: it's the near future, a time when love has long since been identified as a disease called amor deliria nervosa, and 17-year-old Lena is 95 days away from the operation that everyone gets to cure themselves. Can you feel the swoon coming? Enter Alex, a rakish daredevil who, as it turns out, is one of the Invalids a tribe of uncured who live on the lam in the surrounding wilderness. With the clock ticking down to her surgery, Lena is drawn into Alex's world, one of passion and freedom, while her emotionally castrated family members hope to turn her into yet another complacent zombie. Oliver's masterstroke is making a strong case for love as disease: the anxiety, depression, insomnia, and impulsive behavior of the smitten do smack of infirmity. The story bogs down as it revels in romance Alex is standard-issue perfection but the book never loses its A Clockwork Orange-style bite regarding safety versus choice.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-In this gripping dystopian novel set in a future Portland, ME, everyone is safe, unhappiness can be cured, and the freedoms we take for granted have been relinquished in the name of "security" and "the common good." There is no risk and no pain, or at least there won't be for 17-year-old Lena Haloway and her outspoken friend, Hana, once they turn 18. They will then be eligible, in fact forced, to undergo the procedure that will render them impervious to delirium-the disease that was formerly known as love. You can see, of course, right where this is headed, but the ride is well worthwhile. Lena is an engaging and believable protagonist, at first compliant, then questioning, and finally desperate to save herself and the irrepressible emotions blooming within her. Her journey to understanding is both painful and exhilarating as she meets free-spirited Alex, succumbs to delirium, and wrestles with the social code she's been taught so well. Ultimately, Lena gets a shocking glimpse into the world outside the city's borders and witnesses the barbaric underpinnings of the "safe" world in which she has lived. Especially heartbreaking is her discovery of the fate of her mother, who was unable to stop loving her husband and daughters and paid a terrible price for her transgression. On the other hand, Lena's caring but numbed-out aunt and her scrupulously compliant older sister make clear the consequences of obedience to tyranny. Strong characters, a vivid portrait of the lives of teens in a repressive society, and nagging questions that can be applied to our world today make this book especially compelling and discussable.-Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-In 17-year-old Lena's America, science has conquered the most pernicious disease of all-love. Also gone are laughter, dancing, and the appreciation of beauty. Lena is looking forward to being cured of her troublesome feelings until she meets a boy with golden eyes and hair the color of autumn. Audio version available from Audible.com. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly In her sophomore novel, Oliver (Before I Fall) presents an intriguing but disappointing thought experiment, set in a dystopian future in which American borders are sealed and civil order is enforced by regulation, vigilantism, and "the procedure," a coming-of-age lobotomy that excises amor deliria nervosa, or love. Nearly 18, Lena Haloway welcomes the prospect; her mother underwent three unsuccessful procedures and eventually committed suicide, so Lena deeply believes that love equals suffering. Still, there's a subversiveness to her thoughts and actions, from nurturing the motherless child Gracie to reading Romeo and Juliet because it is "beautiful," not the cautionary tale it's presented as. When a strange, handsome boy begins to intrude on her life, strictly against the regulations, the "beauty" of that tragic trope begins to play out swiftly and relentlessly. The prose is accomplished, and the Portland, Maine, setting wonderfully evoked. However, Oliver's nightmare future lacks a visceral punch, primarily because of the weakness of the world-building. Her America has undergone a seismic shift, but the economic, religious, and cultural ramifications are all but ignored. Ages 14-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved