Orleans

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Orleans
Age Range
12+
Release Date
March 07, 2013
ISBN
0399252940
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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.

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Couldn't Put the Book Down!

In the wake of all the hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, and other natural disasters around the world, Orleans possesses an almost frightening reality. Orleans, tells the story of what happens after New Orleans is struck by super storm after super storm. Disease has taken over the city. With the spread of "Delta Fever" , New Orleans is no longer divided by racial differences.Now the only this that matters is blood type. Everyone is literally fighting to stay alive inside the wall.

Sherri Smith is a compelling author that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat by adding unexpected plot twists. I have read other books by Smith and this one does not disappoint. Orleans takes a new approach to the dystopian and reveals a scary, yet realistic, plot twist about what goes on beyond the walls of Orleans. Using Delta Fever as the reason for society's massive shift, it takes a turn away from the typical story lines in the genre today.

The narrator, Fen, is young girl full of fortitude and spunk. Her story of survival is horrifying; yet through it all she remains strong and ready to fight for her life. Fen narrates in dialect, similar to other books such as Blood Red Road and After the Snow, and takes some getting use to. But the dialect adds an extra sense of reality to the book. Just like in real life, people from different areas of the USA speak different- have their own slang or ways of saying things. With Fen, it is the same. She grew up in the Delta, walled in from other parts of the United States. There is a reason for Fen's unusual way of speaking.

Smith takes time to immerse the reader in the setting of the story without dragging the plot to a haunt. This is a rare quality in some dystopian and fantasy novels. She paces the description in such a way that the reader understands what is going on but is still intrigued in what makes this particular society works. Smith is a magician as bits as pieces of this horribly fascinating world unfolds before the readers eyes.

Orleans is a mature read . Although it is geared for ages 12+ it is better suited for older teens. The book has a powerful story and in some parts gets brutally honest when dealing with violence. The redeeming quality about the violent nature of these parts is that those details definitely have purpose in the story and are not just placed to entertain the reader. It helps address the bigger questions about human nature and what we, as a people, are capable of in hard times.

Orleans is captivating and a must read for anyone who loves the dystopian genre. It will keep you turning pages for hours. This is a must read.

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(Updated: December 26, 2012)
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Marvelous World Building!

What I Loved:
Given the onslaught of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, knowing which authors have simply hopped the trend bandwagon heading to Fametown and which just had a story to tell that happened to fall into the genre can be incredibly difficult. They've all got, more or less, visually arresting covers and a whole lot of marketing to convince you that this one will be the real deal. Well, my friends, Sherri L. Smith has most definitely not written this book in a bid to earn more readers by writing for a popular genre. Where the most popular of this sub-genre these days focus more on romance, Orleans pays attention to world building above all else.

Obviously, I really, really love dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, otherwise I wouldn't read as much of it as I do. However, I go into this endeavor well-aware of the weaknesses of such novels. More often than not, the world building receives minor attention, taking a backseat to either mindless action or star-crossed romance. Sometimes, the author does not even offer the slightest hint of how the world evolved into its current state.

In Orleans, Smith starts the reader off with explanations, a detailing of how the Gulf coast went down the shitter, and got quarantined from the United States after a series of devastating hurricanes that resulted in an even more disastrous disease. The individuals still living in Orleans, having dropped the new as they're nothing new and shiny about this place anymore, live a very different life than the one we know. The bulk of the population lives in tribes, organized by blood type, as the disease affects the different blood types in varying strengths. Those with AB blood are most affected, but, as a result, they are most to be feared, since they will attack the other types to take their blood, which helps stave off the illness. From the very beginning, Smith starts building her world and she does not stop until the end, and, y'all, her world is creepy.

On top of the completely stellar world building, Orleans earns so much respect from me for being diverse. People of every race run around Orleans and, for the most part, skin color and heritage do not matter any more; now blood type does. The heroine, Fen de la Guerre, is dark-skinned, but, honestly, I'm not completely sure what her race is; what I do know is that she's non-white, and so are most of the people running around this book. Also, the cover matches this book perfectly, down to the way her hair's piled on top of her head.

Fen really does make a marvelous heroine, in that she looks out for herself and does whatever she needs to do to survive. In a lot of survival situations in novels, the heroine's always trying to save everyone and sacrifice herself, but that rarely strikes me as a realistic. Fen has one person she really cared about and would have died to protect, but that person dies in childbirth in the beginning, asking Fen to take care of her child. Even with this promise in place, Fen considers abandoning the baby at a couple of points to save herself. Later, when she meets a wandering scientist, Daniel, she only helps him to help herself. Her character arc does change a bit, but mostly she's a hardened warrior who has been through the worst and does not want to go back.

What Left Me Wanting More:
The downside for me was that I never felt any connection to the characters. While interesting, Fen closes herself off to everyone, including the reader. Despite her sections being told in first person, I really just didn't have a handle on who she was besides a survivor, which, while, utterly believable on the one hand, kept me from engaging completely. Though his sections were in third person, Daniel was still more approachable, but he's so useless in Orleans that I didn't feel much for him either. Also, I'm generally not a fan of multiple points of view when they're not all in either first or third person. The switches between first and third person narration, in general and here specifically, catch me off guard, especially once Daniel and Fen are in the same place.

The Final Verdict:
Other factors worth noting are the writing style and the romance. For the former, be warned that Orleans is written with quite a bit of dialect, as Fen speaks and thinks that way. Her dialect, however is quite mild, mostly consisting of the use of 'be' in place of 'are.' Though I'm really not a fan of dialect, this did not bother me. To the latter point, there is no romance. None. If you like post-apocalyptics for romance, you'll want to be passing by this one. As for the rest of us, Orleans serves as a lovely break from the monotony of instalove.

Readers who have mostly given up on post-apocalytpics because you're sick of all of the sappy romances and pathetic attempts at world building, Orleans will restore just a little bit of your faith in the genre.

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Absolutely Spectacular Worldbuilding!

With absolutely spectacular world-building, Orleans held me captive as I watched a post-apocalypse version of New Orleans unfold around me in vivid and careful detail; nothing was overlooked. I did find that I cared very little for the protagonist – Fen – and her tribe dialect. Though I understood her motives, I was much more interested in learning about Orleans and how it had come to be.

Fen is a very interesting, and refreshing, heroine in that she looks out for herself first, and does whatever is necessary in order to survive. At times, this means she considers abandoning Lydia’s baby, in order to save herself.

"I look down at Baby Girl, snuggled up against me. I want to run so bad, but she so tiny. Too tiny to hold the dogs off me for long. Then I close my eyes and feel hot all over, I’m so ashamed. Lydia ask me to look after her. I ain’t gonna throw her away."

And when she meets Daniel, she helps him only because of the help he can provide her. While her character arc does progress and we do see small changes in her self-preservation above all else instinct, by the end of Orleans, she is still a survivor who is determined to continue surviving. But while I couldn’t fault Fen for her will to survive, I also couldn’t connect with her. While I learned quite a bit about both Fen and Daniel’s histories, which explained how they had become who they were in Orleans, it did little to make me truly connect to either of them. Besides the unshakable and realistic truth that Fen was a survivor, I really wasn’t able to grasp her characterization because she kept herself so closed, which kept me from engaging completely. And while Daniel was much more open with his emotions, he was so useless that I couldn’t relate to him either.

Fortunately for Orleans, I didn’t need the characterization to be outstanding, because the city of Orleans was as much a living, breathing character as either Fen or Daniel. And Smith starts Orleans‘ characterization on page one: after a series of devastating hurricanes, which resulted in a lethal disease called the Fever, the Guld Coast was quarantined from the rest of the United States. In time, the quarantine turned into a full separation, as the United States withdrew its funding and support for the survivors living in Orleans, thinking they would die out and take their disease with them. With the Fever attacking blood types differently and in varying strengths, the survivors band together in blood-based tribes. With AB types being the most severely affected, they quickly become the most dangerous – attacking others to steal their blood, which helps to temporarily stave off the Fever.

And that’s just the threat from Orleans‘ inhabitants! As Fen travels with Daniel, we watch them travel across a mossy field with an entire city buried underneath, where pieces of the past float to the top during heavy rains. It also means certain spots might cave in if you’re not light enough on your feet. The landscape was as much a threat as any Blood Hunter, which made every move Fen and Daniel make suspenseful as you waited for Orleans‘ reaction.

With such a rich landscape and such an interesting character as Fen, Orleans is a dystopian for dystopian fans – fantastic world-building, a suspenseful plot and a heroine that makes decisions based on logic instead of her heart.

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An absolute must read for any dystopian fan

Move over Tris and Katniss, because Fen de la Guerre is ruling the dystopian scene.


I really hope this is the beginning of a series, because the final page left me breathless. I have to know more about what this future America is like. Sherri Smith did an amazing job creating a world within a world.


The Delta region has been destroyed by hurricanes and left for dead. Survival of the fittest. No one expect the people living in New Orleans to survive the Delta Fever, so when Daniel, an overly optimistic scientist, sneaks across the border to New Orleans he is shocked to find that everything he has been told is a lie.


The Delta is very much alive, and it's terrifying. Blood hunters become the new form of slavery and human traficking. They are ruthless and they lurk behind every shadow. Poor Fen is O Positive, which means she's a hot commodity to those suffering from Delta Fever. Her blood could give them life, and she is constantly being hunted for it. I don't know about you, but that right there was enough ot make me go "OMG" as I read this book. What an imagination! How terrifying this new America is!


The characters were pretty solid. Daniel was certainly foolish, but he meant well. Fen was fierce. She was determined, and she certainly wasn't going to sit back and accept defeat without a fight. Her quick thinking saved her numerous times throughout Orleans. The villains are many, and you can't limit them to one type of person either. I don't think it gets any worse than a blood hunter, but then I read about the evil woman that ran a blood bank/brothel using innocent orphans. That was pretty awful. Betrayal lurked everywhere.


I have to be honest, though, that I was a little worried when I started reading. Fen is from deep in the Delta and so she speaks with a distinct dialect. It was hard to read at first because my brain was revolting against the lack of subject-verb agreement. Ultimately, however, that distinct voice is what made this book so unique. Fen was very believable-- from her speech patterns down to her love of her hair. It was so real, and my heart ached for her in the end.


In short, this is a must read. No questions about it. It is by far one of the best dystopians I have read in 2013. I really, really, really hope it will be a series because I can't get enough of Orleans!

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Great world-building and plot construction

Recently, I’ve decided that while I’m not a big fan of YA dystopian, I really like post-apocalyptic novels. Orleans is yet another example of that trend. This is a strong, moving book that grabbed me at the start and held me to the end. Mostly, I was totally impressed by this book; Smith did a truly excellent job here, and this was just about perfection.

From the first page, readers are thrown into the gritty, harsh world of Orleans. Fen de la Guerre is a young survivor who’s seen it all. Her narrative (which utilizes vernacular) is gripping and intense. Fen is pragmatic and cool, traits that have helped keep her alive. But, unfortunately, they also tend to make her a bit inaccessible, since she has learned over the years to eschew emotional influence in her life.

Through some very well-done flashbacks and Fen’s general narrative, we learn about life in the Delta and what it is to be one of the infected. Instead of racism, people now persecute each other based on blood type, and the wars between clans are just as ugly as any of today’s ethnic-related feuds. Life for Fen and her peers isn’t a happy thing. It’s a rough, scratch-out-a-living-if-you-can experience. The goal is survival, nothing more.

Sherri L. Smith’s world-building here is fantastic. Without excessive info-dumping, she managed to perfectly explain what happened to create the setting Orleans takes place in. I was hugely impressed with the scope and depth of the background in this novel. I could understand perfectly how the Fever had occurred, how the USA had decided to abandon much of the South, and how those shut out from the rest of the world had adapted to their current society. All that was very well thought-out.

Though there are a few brief side-trips, the storyline of Orleans is focused on one goal. Stuck with a newborn baby, Fen has to get her out of the city and into the Outer States before the baby becomes infected with the Fever. Along the way she meets scientist Daniel, who has good intentions but is hopelessly naive as to what life behind the Wall is actually like. Moving from one serious predicament to another, Fen never has a dull moment, and by extension, neither do readers. I will say, though, that the plot “twist” toward the end felt like a bit much, and looking back, I’m a bit disappointed.

However, Orleans is still, by and large, a very successful novel. It delivers an action-packed story alongside brilliant world-building, told from the perspective of a tough and admirable young woman. As I said, this is nearly perfect.

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