Memphis Reads – Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

Staff Book Reviews

Darletha reviews ORLEANS by Sherri L. Smith (Putnam’s Sons, 2013)

The fate of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast goes from bad to worse after Hurricane Katrina. More devastating hurricanes strike and thousands die. Fifty years later, what is left of New Orleans is now called Orleans. The Delta region is walled off from the rest of the United States due to an incurable blood disease called Delta Fever. Despite rumors from the Outer States that everyone inside the quarantine is dead, there are survivors.

Inside the wall people have divided themselves into tribes based on blood type. Fen de la Guerre is a young girl from the O-positive tribe, genetic carriers not affected by Delta Fever. Members of the “OP” tribe are hunted by other blood tribes who need their universal blood type to stay alive. After one such attack, Fen becomes the guardian of a newborn she calls Baby Girl. Fen strives to protect Baby Girl from being tainted by Delta Fever, kidnapped, or captured by blood hunters. When Fen encounters Daniel, a scientist who secretly enters Orleans with plans to find a cure for Delta Fever, she reluctantly joins forces with him to get Baby Girl out of the Delta region. Although Daniel enters with noble intentions, he finds himself in a world more grim and dangerous than he imagined.

I picked up this book because the front cover caught my attention. The post-disaster setting and the author’s descriptive writing style places readers right in the dark, murky city of New Orleans where familiar historical areas are overrun with standing water and decrepit buildings. Fen is a fearless young girl, scarred and toughened by this unmerciful world that doesn’t make exceptions based on age or gender. Told from Fen’s point of view, readers will never forget how it this novel addresses class differences, government corruption and survival.

Darletha M., Staff