Books in Brief

Delirium: 1/3 (Delirium Trilogy)

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Five words from the blurb: love, disease, cured, lies, safe

Lauren Oliver seems to get universal praise on Twitter so I decided I ought to give her a try. I can see why people enjoy her fast paced/gripping writing, but I found it lacked depth. The characters were stereotypical and the plot was too predictable. I felt that I’d read similar books with this theme before (Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is far superior) and it didn’t give me anything new to think about. Recommended to teenagers investigating themes of love and belonging for the first time.



Eyrie by Tim Winton

Five words from the blurb: Australian, tower-block, bleak, friendship, problems

Eyrie is at the opposite end of the spectrum to Delirium – the writing is slow; the characters are all well-drawn, complex individuals and the reader has no idea where the plot is going. Unfortunately I failed to connect with the central character, Tom. He is living at the top of a tower-block and has a range of emotional problems. His loneliness and mental problems were accurately portrayed, but I just didn’t care. I became bored and depressed by his plight and there was no narrative drive to encourage me to proceed further. I abandoned it after 80 pages. Recommended to those who enjoy slow, dark, character studies.



Seven Types of Ambiguity

Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman

Five words from the blurb: psychological, truth, intellectual, relationship, spirit

I loved The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman so was excited about trying another of his books. Unfortunately this one was very different in style. The second-person narrative annoyed me and, although this disappeared in part 2, I found the continual switching of narrator disorientating. I felt it was a simple story about relationships wrapped up in fancy writing and I decided it wasn’t worth pursuing. I abandoned it after about 150 pages. Recommended to those who admire experimental writing.


7 replies on “Books in Brief”

I just read Lauren Oliver’s first novel for grown-ups “Rooms” and felt just like you about Delirium. Not a book one has to read. I even think Delirium is probably better.
I’ve only read one Tim Winton “Breath” and liked it.

Caroline, I don’t think I’ll be trying any of her other books – it is especially good to know that her book for adults is similar in style as sometimes it can be worth trying the different genres – thanks for the information!

Alex, Don’t worry – I didn’t read these all in a row and I didn’t read any this year. I like to get all the not-so-good reviews out of the way quickly, all at once. I’ve read lots of great books since and will be back soon with some winners 🙂

Surprising that you found ‘Eyrie’ to be slow – I’ve always found Winton’s books to be quite fast-paced and certainly whipped through this one. And a shame you didn’t finish it as it has a very… interesting… ending that I’d have been keen to read your response to. It’s a book I enjoyed but for me ranks alongside ‘Dirt Music’, ‘Breath’ and ‘The Riders’ as just “good” rather than reaching the heights of ‘Cloudstreet’ or ‘The Turning’.

I’ve had ‘Seven Types of Ambiguity’ on my TBR pile ever since reading ‘The Street Sweeper’ which, like you, I loved. Second person narration can be irritating sometimes I agree, and the only way of getting around it really is if the narrative takes the form of a letter or speech otherwise addressing your thoughts to ‘you’ can be a bit weird! Though if it is only for one section it might work to differentiate between voices? Funnily enough your description of the switches between narrators reminds me of my current read ‘The Jewel in the Crown’ which also uses a different voice for each section, many addressing themselves to a ‘you’ who is the unnamed and unseen author (or stand-in for the reader) who is interviewing these other characters. Having seen the TV series, which as far as I recall is a pretty straightforward linear narrative, I was (pleasantly) surprised by the modernist techniques and slipperiness of it.

David, I’m intrigued by the ending to ‘Eyrie’ now! I’ll have to ask someone whose read it what happens as I’d like to know, but am not interested enough to continue with the book.

I don’t mind books that have different voices – in fact I appreciate it when it is well done. I think the main problem was that I just didn’t care about the subject matter. I’ve read so many books about relationship problems and ‘Ambiguity’ did nothing to really interest me. I think it is just a personal aversion to stories of infidelity.

Oh no, so sorry to see you didn’t enjoy the Perlman. I bought myself that one after loving The Street Sweeper so much, but I haven’t started reading it yet. It’s a shame when another book by an author whose book you’ve loved is disappointing.

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