Orleans Review

Imagine a dystopian United States where the Gulf Coast States of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas are cut off by a huge wall. The reason for this includes hurricanes pounding this area almost yearly from 2005 onward. Every time the areas rebuilt, another hurricane slammed them, making them start over. After this, the Fever swept across these states and took the lives of many citizens. The incurable disease starves the body of nutrients through the blood, making a victim want to eat dirt to try to get nutrients from it. A person who suffers from it won’t last very long, even with blood transplants.

In the Outer States, the loss of the states inside the wall has driven the South to poverty, and despite their best efforts the Fever has also reached the Inner States. Daniel’s younger brother is taken by this disease, and it as just as incurable as it was 50 years earlier before the wall in the Gulf States. He was determined to find a cure in the name of his brother who died in less than a week due to this disease, but the one he finds after years of work only kills the Fever victims in 2 days instead of a week. He believes that by crossing the wall and going into the Delta region where the fever  originated, he will be able to find the last ingredient to make his cure work. Consulting with a old smuggler that made many trips over the wall, he receives a suit that is self containing so he won’t need to eat or find water in the area since he would be infected with the fever.

Fen is a girl who lives in the Delta region that has now been split into tribal groups. The O positives and O negatives are hunted almost daily by blood hunters because the As, Bs, and ABs want the blood to try and live a little longer with the fever. She is a member of the O positive tribe that is led by Lydia, the one girl who showed the orphan Fen some mercy, and is leading as good a life as she can live in the Delta hell. Lydia, about 9 months pregnant, is trying to make a pact with the O negative tribe in order for them both to be safe. However, during their tribal meeting, ABs attack. ABs have the worst symptoms as they are basically born with the Fever by living in the Delta and end up suffering some of the symptoms and pain without actually dying. They take drugs and blood in order to try to cope with the pain of survival, but that means that they are not in their right minds when they attack and scatter/kill a lot of the members of both tribes.

Lydia goes into labor when they are being attack, has a difficult birth and dies, so Fen must escape with Lydia’s newborn and try to live life as best as possible. This is difficult because people who have O blood and don’t have a tribe to protect them will die very quickly in the Delta. When she and Daniel cross paths, she wants to find a way to get the newborn over the wall before she is infected, and Daniel needs her help to get through the war torn Delta. The two of them go on a long adventure, and discover the darker secrets of what’s really going on with the cure of the Fever in the Delta.

The main problem I had with this book was the fact that it did not truly explain what happened to each blood type in the Fever, or why the blood types had to stay apart in tribes besides the fact that they attacked the O’s. This is not a series but a standalone novel, but the novel finishes itself up nicely without too many loose ends. I also wanted to hear more about the other areas that had been affected by the wall such as Florida or Texas, but this story only focuses on “Orleans”. Daniel’s backstory was glossed over, and the whole story of the Inner States did not receive as much attention as it should have, as they have supposedly turned their back on the Outer States completely.

This story is a unique dystopian story written for teens, with a strong female main character only held down by her horrible circumstances. I was happy to see as I read it that there was not going to be any romance, but it was simply an adventure story between a scientist and a girl with knowledge of the area. Never did we hear her actual age if she knew it, her backstory could make you estimate that she was a teen but she could have been anywhere between the ages of 12 and 20, making her a character relate able to a variety of ages. When the tribes were introduced it seemed as if it could have been just a new form of racism, which could have been cleared up if the disease was further explained, but nevertheless as I read I noticed how each tribe felt like a family no matter how messed up the fever made it. Altogether, although the book felt disappointing in some areas and confusing in others, the story was sweet and I really enjoyed spending time in that alternate universe.

Overall Rating: 4/5

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