Book Review: Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

Orleans.jpg

Title: Orleans
Series: Stand Alone
Author: Sherri L. Smith
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Characters: Fen, Daniel, Enola
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre Type: Science Fiction, Dystopia
Publication Date: March 7th 2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 336  pages
Source: Library
Challenge: 2013 Reading Challenge

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith is both a harsh and beautiful book set in a post-apocalyptic Orleans, with a young heroine you will not be able to soon forget.  It is a wonderful book filled with both hope and heartache. The setting is rich and detailed, and will not disappoint fans of Dystopian novels looking for great world building atmosphere.

Summary:

Welcome to Orleans 2056. A series of hurricanes have ravaged the land, releasing a deadly virus known as Delta Fever upon it’s people. A blood virus that affects everyone differently, the symptoms vary depending on your blood type. The Gulf Coast region is placed under quarantine, and it’s borders to be sealed until a cure can be found. When no cure for the disease is found, a Declaration of Separation is issued by the US Senate, removing Government and separating the Gulf Coast from the Outer States. As the people of Orleans are forgotten, it’s society slowly descends into chaos. Human blood trafficking is rampant  and a new society is born, it’s tribal leaders picked not by education, wealth nor culture, but by their blood type.

Fen de la Guerre is living with a O-Positive tribe when their camp is ambushed, killing their leader, and leaving her infant daughter entrusted to Fen. Now Fen must race against time, hoping to get the baby to safety outside the quarantined wall before her blood becomes infected with the Delta Fever. On her journey Fen meets a young scientist named Daniel, who has secretly crossed the border in hopes of furthering his research for the cure for Delta Fever. Together they will have to overcome many obstacles and hardships, fighting for their survival.

"My name is Fen de la Guerre, I tell myself. I am an O-Positive. I'ma find a tribe, or let the swamp take me. But one thing for sure, I ain't never gonna cry again."

The Characters:

Fen de la Guerre: Fen's character is a young girl full of fierce determination, her admirable and honest qualities make her a true heroine. Her unconditional love for Baby Girl, and willingness to sacrifice for her, make her a truly unforgettable character.

Enola or Baby Girl: Although her character is silent, with the help of Fen's descriptions of Baby Girls character,  I couldn't help but fall in love with.

Daniel Weaver, a military research scientist from Over the Wall: I enjoyed Daniel as a secondary character, and it was often through his perspective that I was given such unique glimpses into this futuristic version of Orleans.  Even though Daniel often seemed out of his element in the story, I felt his heart was in the right place,and his character arose to the occasion when he was needed the most.

Mr. Go or Simeon Wells: A former Doctor of Biology and Environmental Engineering. Another unique and admirable character, who has helped Fen more than once in her life. I would love to be able to sit inside his greenhouse which he fondly calls Noah's Ark.

Mama Gentille: A mambo or priestess. She is a horrible woman, who takes advantage of Fen, and is partly responsible for causing Fen terrible pain and sorrow. I have to forewarn you, that this is also the most heartbreaking and brutal scene in the book Orleans.

“Mama Gentille’s name means kind, but her name be the only place you’ll find it. Hers be the kindness of the gators to the rabbit, the snake to the bird. Before Lydia took me in, I been one of Mama’s girls. And I got the scars to prove it.”

The Gentleman: A terrible villain in the book Orleans. We don’t know much about his background, only that he makes a terrible deal with Mama Gentille, and he is responsible for a brutal act of terrible violence against Fen. Again be warned.

The Romantic Love Interest: None

Although Orleans does not include a romantic love interest, there is a heartwarming relationship between Fen and Baby Girl.  I  often found myself smiling at the thought of Baby Girl and Fen together, and it was easy for me to become attached to both characters.

What I liked:

Sherri L. Smith has created a fully developed Dystopian novel with memorable characters. I absolutely loved traveling along with Fen and Daniel as they traversed across Orleans, seeing so many lush settings, and meeting so many unique characters. The Market in Shangri-Lo, The French Quarter, Mardi Gras and the Krewe, The Ursuline Sisters, and Mr. Go, to name a few.

What I thought could have been improved: Nothing

Although Fen has a mild dialect in Orleans, this did not bother me nor distract me from the story. If anything, I thought it made her a more authentic character.

The Ending:

There wasn't a cliffhanger, but you will definitely be thinking about this book long after you've finished it. I would recommend it for a more mature YA age group for reading due to some of it’s violent content.

Sherri Smith has combined the old world atmosphere of Orleans, gave it a Dystopian twist, filled it memorable characters, and a truly unique young heroine.

My Rating:  5 Stars

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