What if love were a disease? There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it. Then, at last, they found the cure. Now, everything is different. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens ...Read MoreWhat if love were a disease? There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it. Then, at last, they found the cure. Now, everything is different. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she'll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But then, with only ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkableRead Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2010-12-20 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.
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