I picked up this book based on what I'd read of Raven; one of the novellas in the Delirium universe. I was sucked in by the writing and decided to start at the beginning. Unfortunately, that proved to be somewhat of a slog, because Delirium has the traditional slow ramp-up of YA dystopia. I'd write that off as a occupational hazard (so to speak) of the genre, but counterexamples such as Susan Ee's Angelfall come to mind.
Angelfall came to mind as a comparison often while reading Delirium, actually, perhaps due to the prominence of the main characters' mothers. Both mothers have their own kind of madness, but Lena's mother's ability to love is a stark contrast to Penryn's mother's schizophrenia. Passive and joyful versus violent and unpredictable: only one of these two comes across as an asset in a dystopian world. But I can be persuaded otherwise; the next book Pandemonium may be more what I'm looking for.
The language of Delirium also picks up speed after the first third of the book to hit that perfect pitch that dragged me in from the first pages of Raven. My favorite lines were these:
I'll tell you another secret, this one for your own good. You may think the past has something to tell you. You may think that you should listen, should strain to make out its whispers, should bend over backward, stoop down low to hear its voice breathed up from the ground, from the dead places. You may think there's something for you, something to understand or make sense of.
But I know the truth: I know from the nights of Coldness. I know the past will drag you backward and down, have you snatching at whispers of wind and the gibberish of trees rubbing together, trying to decipher some code, trying to piece together what was broken. It's hopeless. The past is nothing but a weight. It will build inside of you like a stone.