In a world where the deep-voiced trailer guy echoes through your head whenever you read the words “in a world,” teenagers are given a procedure at age 18 that forever cures them of love. Love, scientifically referred to as amor deliria nervosa is shown to have caused fatal sexually-transmitted diseases, stress, heart disease, suicides, jealous fits of rage resulting in murder, and has been outlawed.

Lena has been looking forward to the procedure all her life, particularly in the last few years when strange feelings have made her terrified of succumbing to the disease. She lives with her near catatonic aunt and uncle after her parents passed away, and her zombie-like older sister sometimes visits, when she remembers she needs to. Occasionally, parents even forget they’re supposed to care for their own children, now that the bond of love is no longer there, but you can’t argue with results: society no longer has war or any dangerous side effects of passion.

On the day of Lena’s final testing before the procedure, she’s tanking her questions, which could result in a terribly boring match for the rest of her life, as the government chooses that for you. The test is interrupted by some protesters who live illegally on the fringes of society, and in the commotion, she catches the eye of a handsome guard, who is young but has already had his procedure. Feeling safe — and only allowed to “hang out” with him since he’s cured — she begins spending more and more time with the young man, who slowly begins to reveal to her that the everything she’s believed to be true isn’t necessarily as it seems.

If your curiosity is piqued, I can hardly blame you, and I’d actually recommend this book with high ratings for that much of the plot alone. You will still likely enjoy the tale, but if you need to know more of my thoughts as a whole, please continue.

Without giving anything away, I was sure this book was headed for four-star territory. It certainly isn’t perfect, with a bit of heavy-handedness over the evils of society and “yes, we get it, without love, life is boring.” But the ending dropped a whole star rating for me. I still urge you to read it if, as I’ve mentioned in other reviews, books are more about the journey than the destination. Watching young forbidden love blossom in a world where it’s so dangerous is a really powerful story, and Lauren Oliver does that beautifully.