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Author: Smith, Sherri L.
Set in a futuristic, hostile Orleans landscape, Fen de la Guerre must deliver her tribe leader's baby over the Wall into the Outer States before her blood becomes tainted with Delta Fever.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: UG
Reading Level: 4.80
Points: 11.0 Quiz: 156571
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 9-12
Reading Level: 5.60
Points: 19.0 Quiz: 59944
Kirkus Reviews (01/15/13)
School Library Journal (00/04/13)
Booklist (+) (02/01/13)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (00/03/13)
The Hornbook (00/03/13)
Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 03/01/2013 Katrina. Rita. Sandy. Say the names and listeners are likely to conjure up images of the devastation left behind by these superstorms, the overwhelming desperation and loss in the wake of an unstoppable force. In her first foray into the world of dystopia, Smith (author of Flygirl, BCCB 2/09) would have readers believe that these storms were just the beginning: a series of six hurricanes hits the U.S. over five years, culminating in 2019 in category 6 hurricane Jesus, a storm so powerful it requires a revised hurricane scale and leaves the Gulf Coast so destroyed that the powers-that-be quarantine it off and essentially leave its residents to their own devices. The book speedily fast-forwards through fifty years of poverty, rape, murder, and Delta Fever and then introduces readers to Fen de la Guerre, a fifteen-year-old girl apprenticed to the pregnant leader of the O-tribe. The Fever that has devastated most of the Gulf’s remaining population is more easily spread between people of different blood types, so tribes have organized along bloodlines, staking out territories around and within Orleans (the “New” having been forsaken long ago). Fen’s mentor, Lydia, is seeking to establish a tentative peace among the tribes, but her efforts are shattered when Fen and Lydia are ambushed and Lydia goes into labor, delivering the child but dying in the process. Now Fen is left with a helpless infant and seven days to fulfill her promise to Lydia: to get the child over the Wall that separates the Delta from the rest of the country before the baby develops the Fever. Meanwhile, across the Wall, in the Outer States of America, a young scientist named Daniel is certain he has almost discovered a cure for the Fever, but he needs access to carriers and such people only exist within Orleans. Daniel illegally crosses the Wall, but he is totally unprepared to make his way through the wilderness or past the violent blood hunters that populate it. Fortunately, he soon encounters Fen, and the two join forces to get both Daniel and the baby (dubbed Enola—East New Orleans—by Fen) to safety. Smith offers a vivid and realistic portrayal of a world ravaged first by Mother Nature and then by human nature as cruelty, prejudice, and despair become the dominating forces within the Delta. The facts regarding the storms, the quarantine, and the Fever are laid out in a brief five-page introduction, giving readers a cold and distanced look at the desolation. We are then almost immediately immersed in a world of tribes, blood, and desperation as Fen’s folksy, dialect-heavy narration sets the scene, and the effects of the hurricanes and the policies that followed them are suddenly made deeply personal. The book occasionally deviates from Fen’s narration with chapters narrated in the third person and focalized through Daniel, a strategy that hearkens back to the dispassionate tone of the introduction and initially aligns the young scientist with those who view Orleans as a lost cause. However, as Daniel becomes more entrenched inside the Wall and attached to Fen and Enola, Fen’s voice takes over and Daniel, like the reader, becomes fully invested in the fate of Orleans. Orleans itself is a compelling intersection of environmental chaos and human politics. Smith repeatedly reminds readers that this was once a vibrant, stunningly alive place that suffered the ill effects of global warming and yet has still managed to eke out a kind of survival, as grim and unappealing as that survival looks. This version of NOLA reads like a twisted love letter to the original as Smith mines its famous landmarks and traditions for a dark revision: the Superdome is now a mass grave with bones piled atop seats; the Garden District has gone to seed; the famous dancing second line in the brass band parades is now a solemn procession of nuns; and Mardi Gras is simply an opportunity to be grateful to be alive. Both a necropolis and a potential fresh start, Orleans is reflected in Fen’s condition as a carrier of the Fever: she is poisoned and toxic, but she’s still fighting for a better life. The book’s closing scene is a moment of sacrifice and redemption maintaining the story’s careful balance of despair and hope to the very end. YA lit seems to have no end to the ways in which the world will meet its end, be it plagues, overpopulation, nuclear war, or the ever-popular zombie apocalypse. Smith’s vision of the future is terrifying because it scarily matches reality in a world where the Doomsday clock moves closer and closer to midnight. Readers may find themselves watching this year’s hurricane season with a deep sense of dread as they ponder the fate of little Enola. (See p. 352 for publication information.) Kate Quealy-Gainer, Assistant Editor - Copyright 2013 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 02/01/2013 *Starred Review* In Smith’s compelling and disturbing novel, the Gulf Coast has been formally separated from the U.S. since 2025, after a deadly plague called Delta Fever emerges from the horrific conditions following years of increasingly destructive hurricanes. A brief but effective “Before” section summarizes years of backstory with a time line showing the dates and casualties of seven hurricanes (starting with Katrina in 2005 and ending in 2019). There are also excerpts from the “official” declarations of quarantine (2020) and separation (2025). The “After” section begins with the dialect narrative of 15-year-old orphan Fen de la Guerre. Survivors have divided themselves into tribes based on blood type, which now matters more than race, religion, or wealth. Fen’s tribe is ambushed, and her leader and best friend, Lydia, dies in childbirth, leaving Fen to care for the baby girl. Determined to honor Lydia’s dying request to get the infant outside the Wall to the safety of the Outer Lands, Fen begins her journey and meets Daniel, a determined, naive young scientist who has illegally crossed the Wall, believing he can find a cure for Delta Fever. Alternating chapters of Fen’s strong and often lyrical voice and a third-person account from Daniel’s point of view move the complicated plot briskly. There are a few too many plot threads, but ultimately, they do not detract from the powerful, relevant themes: global warming, racism, political corruption, and the complexity of human nature. - Copyright 2013 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 04/01/2013 Gr 8 Up—After Hurricane Katrina, a series of hurricanes hits the Gulf Coast and decimated its population, leaving behind destruction and illness. Fifty years later, Delta Fever has set in, and the government abandoned the residents and constructed a wall to keep illness away from the Outer States. People in Orleans live in tribes according to their blood type, and with blood transfusions often necessary, blood is a commodity that many will take by force. Fifteen-year-old Fen lives in Orleans with her tribe, O-Positive, and her job is to watch over pregnant chieftain Lydia and protect her. When the tribe is attacked, and Fen is left alone with an infant to care for, she faces her past to try to find a better life for the baby. Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States, watched his younger brother die of Delta Fever. This drives him to find a cure, but when he crosses over illegally into Orleans to further his research, he finds that things there are not as he expected. As Fen's and Daniel's paths converge, her tough, experienced character is juxtaposed with Daniel's naïve one. Fen's memories reveal a background that is disturbing. Her voice is unique, and the layers of her character are revealed slowly but flawlessly. The few threads that are left dangling could lead easily to a sequel, particularly the hints of government secrecy and the future of the child, but this dark novel stands on its own nicely.—Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.