Author Spotlight: Lauren Oliver

Dear Reader;

Ideally, I’d like to focus on some less well known authors and get their names out there, but I also want you guys to know about the really awesome ones who have been there for a while. (Because no one ever bothered to send me in the direction of an author before and I’ve missed out on so many as a result.)

So, today I’m going to focus on Lauren Oliver, because she’s written one of my favorite books and a book that I didn’t much care for. The reason I think this is important is because it lets us know that an author can have a flop and still be a good author (not that her book was necessarily a “flop” but rather I just didn’t care for it). But not just that; it also says something about what you look for in a book while you’re reading.

The first book I read by Lauren Oliver was swirling around after the Hunger Games as “your next fix” type books. (I should know better by now, because EVERYONE was talking about the House of Night series and it was just awful!) So, being adventurous (and a little desperate), I went ahead and picked up a used copy.

And I didn’t like it.

It was called Delirium and it’s a dystopian series. There are three (I believe) in the series centered around a girl named Lena who is terrified of Love. Why? Because she lives in a society where it is outlawed as it is considered a terrible disease to be cured. Her mother had it and could never be rid of it, driving her insane. Now, Lena is afraid of the same madness.

It sounds like an awesome premise, right? It certainly did to me! But it was just… completely boring. That was the problem, it was boring. Nothing ever felt like it was happening and there was this constant sense that characters weren’t in any actual danger, which is really important if you’re going to have a dystopian novel.

Oliver failed pretty healthily with this book, at least for me, and I had little to no interest in reading another Delirium book. But then I stumbled upon a book called Panic by the same author and I thought, “Why am I even looking at this? I hated Delirium!” But then I realized something. I didn’t hate Delirium; I just wasn’t moved by it. Then I started taking a closer look at my opinion on Delirium.

I thought the story was boring. I wasn’t invested in the characters. But… I liked the style in which Oliver wrote. I liked the setting and some of the world building. I enjoyed reading what she had written, but I just couldn’t get into the story itself.

So, thinking along these lines, I wondered if reading something else by her – in a completely different genre – might lead me to appreciate her more?

Success. Panic was a hit. I tore through it, couldn’t put it down. The characters were so… engaging. And was Panic (the game in the book) a little unrealistic? Yeah, it was. Did the kids in the book maybe take things too far? Yeah, they did. Was it difficult to see a bunch of small town kids doing crazy shit, because they’re so desperate to get out of there? Not in the least. And that was how she hooked me.

I’ve realized that authors have a genre that they work best in and Oliver’s just happens to be adventure/romance/realism. I don’t think I’ll ever try another of her dystopias, but I am definitely looking at her other books (two of them are on my reading list this year).

I recommend checking her out, because she’s a quite talented author. I didn’t care for the Delirium books, but you might, so don’t take my word for it, but don’t start with it either. Start with Panic or Before I fall (I haven’t read it yet, but it’s coming up soon). Pick something that is set in the real world as it is now, because that’s where her strength lies.

She’s got a few out there now, so try her out!


E.C. Orr