“The stronger hurricane seasons we have been confronted with here in the United States takes center stage in this dystopian novel that jumps us ahead about 10 years. Strong hurricanes have continued to strike the Gulf Coast with major severity ... so much so that some of the latter ones are...”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It
“Orleans, by Sherri Smith, is one of the first dystopian novels that I have ever read. I enjoyed the story line and how the novel was actually linked to a historical account, Hurricane Katrina. The novel is also fantasy as well as science fiction. After many hurricanes Orleans has become plagued...”see full review » see other reviews »
“Orleans, by Sherri Smith, is one of the first dystopian novels that I have ever read. I enjoyed the story line and how the novel was actually linked to a historical account, Hurricane Katrina. The novel is also fantasy as well as science fiction. After many hurricanes Orleans has become plagued with disease and very few survivors. The city is riddled with garbage and those there are separated by their blood types. The main character Fen works to help her friend who is pregnant and to move around to find perishables needed. Book level: n/a, DRA: n/a, Lexile level: 750L Lexile level: n/a, Interest level: n/a, Grade level: n/a.”Coach Nicole wrote this review 2 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Science fiction set in the storm battered city of New Orleans. After a virus kills most humans, the survivors joins "tribes" based on blood types. O-positive Fen tries to keep her tribal leader's baby alive in this miserable world. ”Joy A wrote this review Monday, November 4, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The stronger hurricane seasons we have been confronted with here in the United States takes center stage in this dystopian novel that jumps us ahead about 10 years. Strong hurricanes have continued to strike the Gulf Coast with major severity ... so much so that some of the latter ones are awarded a new Category 6 ranking. As a result, the country has given up in trying to rebuild after strike after strike and the remaining residents are dealing with a new disease called Delta Fever.
Delta Fever has totally redesigned the culture of the region. The states that make up the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida have been evicted from the US as a result of the disease, and those areas are totally walled off. In many ways, society has fallen back into a tribal makeup with blood types making up the main dividing line, rather than race, language, or socio-economic status. Basically everyone is fighting to survive the regression as the swamps are reclaiming the lands that technology once controlled. The blood types have become important because the Fever strikes at different severity. For example, O positives (or OPs as they are called) are carriers and seem to have little side effects while ABs become so ill that they hunt down the other blood types for their blood in the form of forced transfusions. In fact, blood has become a resource that people are willing to pay for ... and they are also willing to kill for it.
Fen de la Guerre is a an OP, and she feel fairly comfortable with her tribe, which has grown large and secure. Before finding the tribe, she had lost both of her parents to the harsh environment. Lydia Moray is the leader of Fen's tribe, and she has become so powerful that she has actually started to reach out to other tribes and other blood types with the hopes of forming peace. That all goes terribly wrong when a tribe of ABs strikes, and it couldn't happen at a worse time because Lydia is going into labor to give birth. When all is said and done, the tribe is shattered, Fen is on her own with the newly born Baby Girl, and Lydia has not survived the birthing. Fen and Baby Girl's only hope is to make it to Mr. No, a wizened hermit everyone respects.
Daniel, a doctor from the other side of the wall (called the Outer States) has found his way into Orleans with the hope of finding a way to cure the Fever so the country can be united once again. He has his great knowledge and technology to keep him safe and, hopefully, allow him to reach his goal. He also has something to prevent things from going horribly wrong: a failed cure that takes out the disease, but also kills the patient in the process. Since everyone in Orleans has the Fever, it would take everyone out. He has the best of intentions against insurmountable odds.
Little do he and Fen know, but their fates are entwined, and they will find themselves fighting to survive and protect Baby Girl from the environment and from the Hunters.
I actually think this is one of the best environmental books I have read to date. Most seem to fail pretty quickly. This novel follows a certain logic and is timed to a very timely issue in the States. In some ways, I kept being reminded of the setting of "Thundarr the Barbarian," that old Hanna-Barbera cartoon that was on when I was little. I thought Fen and Daniel were both pretty interesting characters, and I definitely wanted to keep turning the pages to see what was going to happen to them in the end.
The ending did feel a little bit rushed, but I felt like it was truly an ending. A dystopian work (well, heck, any teen novel now) that seems like it ties things up with just the single volume is pretty refreshing. I do have one warning in that those looking for the super-optimistic happy ending will not find that here, but it is a really strong and realistic ending for the circumstances are characters find themselves in. I really liked this one.”
“After Katrina, New Orleans was ravaged with six more hurricanes, each stronger than the previous one. This has brought about an epidemic of Delta Fever, which attacks the blood and eventually causes death. The combination of Delta Fever, hurricanes, and flooding has resulted in a dwindling population and destruction of the city. Out of desperation, the United States government puts up The Wall, in an attempt to quarantine the city and save the rest of the US population from the same fate.
The book begins after the year 2025, and New Orleans is barely recognizable, filled with scavenging, and kidnappings and killings for blood, thus changing the city’s name to Orleans. A type of caste system is in place, with blood typing being at its heart. Many people believe that banding together with others who have the same blood type affords safety and security. However, blood is considered a commodity and many will resort to any measure to get it.
Fifteen-year-old Fen de LaGuerre tries being a freesteader for a while but eventually joins the O positive tribe, led by their pregnant chieftain, Lydia Moray. Lydia goes into labor at the same time that the O positives are attacked by another tribe. Before she dies, she begs Fen to get her newborn baby, who does not have the virus, over The Wall so she will have a chance at a better life.
In the meantime, Daniel Weaver, a twenty-four year old scientist working for the military, has illegally snuck into Orleans to gather data in an attempt to cure Delta Fever. He is carrying with him vials of the mutated live virus because he is afraid what the government will do if it comes into their possession. Wearing a containment suit and armed with a datalink, similar to a tiny computer, Daniel has disguised himself as a leper in order to avoid detection.
Fen’s and Daniel’s paths cross when they are captured by blood hunters and locked up together in a blood farm’s holding cell. Upon escaping, Fen reluctantly decides to help Daniel find the Institute of Post-Separation Studies, where virus research was conducted before The Wall was erected. In return, Daniel will help Fen get Lydia’s baby out of Orleans and into the hands of adoptive parents.
The journey that Daniel and Fen will take to accomplish their tasks is daunting and dangerous, filled with deception, death, sacrifice, and, ultimately, survival of the fittest. There are many backstories to explain how New Orleans became Orleans, how Fen has managed to survive, and why Daniel is searching for a cure for the virus.
Readers, hang on to your hat for a wild, wonderful ride through this book. It is filled with wonderful, descriptive world building and tough, likable characters. Having grown up in Louisiana, I have a soft spot in my heart for any book set in that colorful state. This one was so good that I didn’t want it to end.
Fen de LaGuerre is a tough female protagonist, but has a nurturing side to herself that not many people see. She is a determined, resourceful, and strong young heroine. Fen has been through so much in her young life and seems much wiser beyond her years. I would pit her against Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) any day of the week!
Daniel, on the other hand, while being smart, is completely clueless when it comes to the inhabitants and terrain of Orleans. Sometimes it seems he has no common sense because his mission blinds him. It takes some time for him to realize that he can actually rely on Fen and trust her judgment.
Orleans is told from the viewpoint and both Fen and Daniel. Fen’s voice will take some getting used to because she “talks tribe”, a type of regional color dialogue. Some readers may find it off-putting, but I felt it lent itself well to the plot. There is a timeline and short section at the beginning of the book explaining how the hurricanes and the fever overtook New Orleans. The front matter also includes pages that look remarkably like primary source documents issued by the government. On a side note, it is refreshing to read a dystopian novel that contains no romance or love interest!
I am officially adding Sherri L. Smith to my favorite list of young adult authors! I plan to read anything she writes! I highly recommend Orleans to high school and public libraries.
Reviewer’s note: I was thrilled and lucky enough to get a signed ARC of Orleans from the author at the 2013 TX Library Association Conference in Ft. Worth, Texas in April.
“Slow-moving dystopia set in future New Orleans. Stopped after chapter 10. Just can't stick out the grim story or the heroine's patois. (She recalls both blood-lettings -- blood is a commodity and being raped as a ten year-old. It's not described in detail, it's realistic for a lawless world, but that was about it for me.)”Lisa K wrote this review Thursday, August 8, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“When the gulf coast is wiped out by a series of intense hurricanes, a virus breaks out, causing a quarantine and then full scale wall erection to keep it contained. Where New Orleans once was, is a place called Orleans, where tribes are determined by blood type and danger is imminent. Fen is a fifteen year old girl trying to survive amidst this dismal backdrop, with baby in tow, when she meets a scientist from 'over the wall' named Daniel. He's searching for a cure to the virus and the two work out a deal that will satisfy both parties.
This is definitely my newest favorite book. I did my text set on this book and would do the same in a middle or high school class. It's a jump-off for discussions on so many issues, including survival, race, and natural disasters.
This book was like no other novel I had ever read, so it was really a treat.
"It be just about the best thing I ever ate, seeing as how i been going all day on empty. When I be done, I'll ask them to heat a bottle for Baby Girl. We doing all right for our first night on our own."”
“Devastation after hurricane, resembles Katrina”Elizabeth Ross wrote this review Sunday, July 21, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Given the onslaught of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, knowing which authors have simply hopped the trend bandwagon heading to Fametown and which just had a story to tell that happened to fall into the genre can be incredibly difficult. They've all got, more or less, visually arresting covers and a whole lot of marketing to convince you that this one will be the real deal. Well, my friends, Sherri L. Smith has most definitely not written this book in a bid to earn more readers by writing for a popular genre. Where the most popular of this sub-genre these days focus more on romance, Orleans pays attention to world building above all else.
Obviously, I really, really love dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, otherwise I wouldn't read as much of it as I do. However, I go into this endeavor well-aware of the weaknesses of such novels. More often than not, the world building receives minor attention, taking a backseat to either mindless action or star-crossed romance. Sometimes, the author does not even offer the slightest hint of how the world evolved into its current state.
In Orleans, Smith starts the reader off with explanations, a detailing of how the Gulf coast went down the shitter, and got quarantined from the United States after a series of devastating hurricanes that resulted in an even more disastrous disease. The individuals still living in Orleans, having dropped the new as they're nothing new and shiny about this place anymore, live a very different life than the one we know. The bulk of the population lives in tribes, organized by blood type, as the disease affects the different blood types in varying strengths. Those with AB blood are most affected, but, as a result, they are most to be feared, since they will attack the other types to take their blood, which helps stave off the illness. From the very beginning, Smith starts building her world and she does not stop until the end, and, y'all, her world is creepy.
On top of the completely stellar world building, Orleans earns so much respect from me for being diverse. People of every race run around Orleans and, for the most part, skin color and heritage do not matter any more; now blood type does. The heroine, Fen de la Guerre, is dark-skinned, but, honestly, I'm not completely sure what her race is; what I do know is that she's non-white, and so are most of the people running around this book. Also, the cover matches this book perfectly, down to the way her hair's piled on top of her head.
Fen really does make a marvelous heroine, in that she looks out for herself and does whatever she needs to do to survive. In a lot of survival situations in novels, the heroine's always trying to save everyone and sacrifice herself, but that rarely strikes me as a realistic. Fen has one person she really cared about and would have died to protect, but that person dies in childbirth in the beginning, asking Fen to take care of her child. Even with this promise in place, Fen considers abandoning the baby at a couple of points to save herself. Later, when she meets a wandering scientist, Daniel, she only helps him to help herself. Her character arc does change a bit, but mostly she's a hardened warrior who has been through the worst and does not want to go back.
The downside for me was that I never felt any connection to the characters. While interesting, Fen closes herself off to everyone, including the reader. Despite her sections being told in first person, I really just didn't have a handle on who she was besides a survivor, which, while, utterly believable on the one hand, kept me from engaging completely. Though his sections were in third person, Daniel was still more approachable, but he's so useless in Orleans that I didn't feel much for him either. Also, I'm generally not a fan of multiple points of view when they're not all in either first or third person. The switches between first and third person narration, in general and here specifically, catch me off guard, especially once Daniel and Fen are in the same place.
Other factors worth noting are the writing style and the romance. For the former, be warned that Orleans is written with quite a bit of dialect, as Fen speaks and thinks that way. Her dialect, however is quite mild, mostly consisting of the use of 'be' in place of 'are.' Though I'm really not a fan of dialect, this did not bother me. To the latter point, there is no romance. None. If you like post-apocalyptics for romance, you'll want to be passing by this one. As for the rest of us, Orleans serves as a lovely break from the monotony of instalove.
Readers who have mostly given up on post-apocalyptics because you're sick of all of the sappy romances and pathetic attempts at world building, Orleans will restore just a little bit of your faith in the genre. ”
“Post-apocalyptic NOLA, this has some tough moments. recommended.”CornerLibrarian wrote this review Sunday, June 30, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This book is amazingly written! Fen and Daniel are two very distinct personalities that the author alternates between. The language Sherri Smith used to differentiate the two characters helps create an understanding of the two distinct worlds, within The Wall and outside The Wall, without even taking place in the Outer States. Fen speaks with a more native tongue and Daniel has more educated language having grown up with all the perks of luxurious living that Fen hasn’t as part of her tribe. Fen is a fierce young girl on a mission and she understands her world and respects the law of the land. Daniel is clearly out of his element, scared, and realizes he has taken on a very large task. The world building is dark, yet beautifully rendered and completely believable. I thoroughly enjoyed that there is no romance between Fen and Daniel, the story revolved around an otherwise plot, which has its own twists and turns I couldn’t have imagined. This book was powerful in the same manner as the Printz Award Winner Ship Breaker, so if you liked that book, this is a must read. A highly recommended and unique new dystopian story. ”clockwork-serenity wrote this review Wednesday, May 1, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No