Sherri L. Smith
Pub 3-2013, Putnam Juvenile
Sherri L. Smith’s new novel, Orleans, takes place in the future city of Orleans. Orleans has been destroyed over and over again by ongoing hurricanes. A Delta Fever has killed off most of the citizens, and the government has the city under quarantine. The remaining survivors, in the walled off city, all have the fever in their blood. People live with their blood type tribe. The book’s protagonist, Fen de la Guerre, has O positive blood, meaning that she carries the fever in her blood but will not have health problems from it.
Fen knows nothing about life beyond the wall; for all she knows, there is no life beyond the wall. Fen grew up in a religious school. When she was little, her parents decided to leave the school and go back to tribe life. Blood hunters attacked the family of three as they looked for a safe home. Fen’s parents told her to run, and not to come back. They died that night and Fen was left on her own. She made friends along the way; some who betrayed her, and others who saved her. Lydia was the last friend Fen made, when the story begins.
Lydia is also an O positive and is pregnant. Lydia had taken care of Fen ever since she walked into the tribe. She is almost like an older sister to Fen, and Fen a sister to her. One day, during the tribe powow, blood hunters attack. Horrors occur and, once again, Fen has to learn to live on her own.
As Fen is living her life inside the wall, Daniel is living life outside the wall. Daniel is a young man trying to “save the world” after his brother’s class was affected by the Delta Fever, causing his brother to die a painful death. Daniel is determined to find the cure. Hundreds of scientists before him have tried, but none has succeeded.
When Daniel’s science sponsors send him over the wall, he is unprepared for what lies on the other side. No one goes into the wall, and no one leaves the wall. Daniel wants to cure the fever, but he has to make sure he doesn’t fall ill. Once he’s on the other side, Daniel meets Fen. Together they use their strengths to try and survive. At first, Fen doesn’t like Daniel. But soon, the companions begin to see each other another way.
Orleans is an absolutely wonderful story. Sherri L. Smith creates a vivid world that’s easy to fall into. Reading it, I felt I had to keep turning pages; the excitement never stopped. Though her language isn’t very challenging, in order to comprehend the story, and take in the message of the book, readers have to pay attention. Meanwhile, I felt that I knew every character intimately.
If anyone needs a great adventure, this is the one! I love to read, and have read many of this year’s new books, but this one goes on my list of the year’s best.
- Grace B., 12