April 01, 2013

Review: Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

Title: Orleans
Author: Sherri L. Smith
Published: March 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 336 pgs

First came the storms.
Then came the Fever.
And the Wall

After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct… but in reality, a new primitive society has been born.
Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States who has snuck into the Delta illegally. Brought together by chance, kept together by danger, Fen and Daniel navigate the wasteland of Orleans. In the end, they are each other’s last hope for survival. Sherri L. Smith delivers an expertly crafted story about a fierce heroine whose powerful voice and firm determination will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

As a rare request, I want you to first judge this book by its cover. Look at it, analyze it, think about what you expect to get from this book. Got it? 

Now, I can guarantee that Orleans will give you something entirely different than what you thought. Something you didn't expect -- so much greater than you could ask for, and far deeper than you thought it could go.

Orleans is a Young Adult novel that takes place in a world where massive hurricanes have changed the face of the southern United States. New Orleans is so damaged, that eventually it just becomes Orleans; and it is cut off from the rest of the world in order to quarantine a virus found only in the blood of those who still live there. The novel follows a 15-year-old named Fen as she tries to get a newborn baby over the wall and into the northern United States before the virus taints the baby's blood.

Fen's journey is nothing shirt of incredible. The author, Sherri Smith, seamlessly weaves Fen's past into her present, and you notice how every choice she makes, every survival instinct has been affected by her past. Fen has endured tragedy after tragedy in her life and yet she chooses to fight - to continue living in the hell that Orleans has become. I actually wish there were a sequel to this book, because I'd love to see how she turns out as she grows older. I imagine she would be queen of the bayou or something!

Another essential character in the story is Daniel. He is a naive doctor from the north who believes he can cure the virus -- if only he had blood samples from the people of Orleans. In many ways, Daniel's innocence represents Fen's past: innocent, naive, believing he can change the world rather than deal with what it has become. But as the two meet and are forced to deal with each other, he becomes a lit more like Fen's present, and in the end, he leaves with her future. (Pretty deep, right?)

I loved this book, not just for it's fearless use of serious issues: religion vs. church, politics, science vs. nature, etc. Not just for its awesome female protagonist who kicks ass (literally). Although both of those are great reasons, I actually loved this book simply because it is so beautifully written. Smith has one of the most vivid imaginations and it just immerses you so deeply into the story.

Amazing novel - 5 out of 5 stars :)


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  1. I just got this, was on the fence but your review tipped it for me :) Looking forward to reading it!

  2. Im excited about this one!! I should be getting it anyday! and now I am looking forward to it even more! Great review! :)

  3. I absolutely love the cover of this book.

  4. Sounds like a good read. I got this book a few days ago after seeing it on another page and thought I would really like it. :)

  5. I am so glad that I went ahead and put this one on my fall book order for my library! Now I have to read it myself as well! Enjoyed your review!

  6. Sounds good I'm adding it to my to be read

  7. I've read Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith and was impressed with it and I'm very interested in books set in New Orleans. This one sounds quite original. I'm definitely going to be reading it.

  8. So glad to read a positive review of this. I was nervous after reading several DNFs but now I'm looking forward to trying it for myself.


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