Author: Sherri L. Smith
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
What if Katrina was just the beginning? By 2056 the area once known as the gulf coast has been so devastated by storms and the resulting Delta Fever it is no longer part of the US but a walled off ruin where only the strong survive. Fen de la Guerre is a fierce protector of her tribe of O Positives in a primitive society where gangs form around blood type. Daniel is a scientist from outside the wall, he shouldn’t be in Orleans at all. When an attack on her tribe leaves Fen with a newborn baby to care for working with Daniel might be the only way to stay alive whether she trusts him or not.
Orleans is not just any other YA dystopia because Fen is not just any heroine. Street smart and willing to do whatever it takes to stay alive you won’t find her dithering between boys. Fen’s sections are written in a dialect that may be off-putting at first, but in the end it works as it both lends authenticity to Fen’s strong voice and highlights the differences between her and Daniel.
Smith’s post-apocalyptic world-building is both fresh and compelling. So many YA dystopia’s are based on a the idea of a corrupt government that sells its citizens the utopian dream. Orleans, on the other hand, is simply a discarded piece of the country whose remaining residents have reverted to a primitive form of society to get by.
Orleans will be a good fit for fans of harsh dystopias like Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Drowned Cities, Moira Young’s Blood Red Road, or Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go. Readers drawn in by the “it could happen here” aspects might also enjoy Ashfall by Mike Mullin.