Orleans, by Sherri L. Smith, was published in 2013.
Between 2005 and 2017, the Gulf Coast of the United States is hit by six hurricanes, ranging from 3 to 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Each hurricane kills thousands, and leaves fewer and fewer survivors. In 2019, Hurricane Jesus, a category 6 on the new Saffir-Simpson scale, kills 8,000 people and leaves less than 10,000 survivors.
More casualties follow, due to disease, suicide, and murder. Then comes a new disease: Delta Fever. In 2020, FEMA quarantines all of the storm-affected Gulf Coast regions.
In 2025, the United States Senate, in a Declaration of Separation, formally withdraws its governance of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.
The Outer States assume that life inside the quarantined area would die out. The Outer States are wrong.
It’s 2056. Fen de la Guerre, the book’s main narrator, is living with the O-Positive blood tribe. O types are more resistant to The Fever than other types are, so they are prime targets for the Hunters, who kidnap them and drain their valuable blood. The Fever is a blood disease, but the Rules of Blood keeps the tribes separated and healthy. But outsiders come from over the Wall to trade or scavenge, plus there are tribe-less freesteaders, and the disease still spreads and kills.
“In Orleans, you either a tribe, a religion, a hunter, or a freesteader.”
ABs live in and around the old French Quarter, where the markets and hospitals are. O-Positives and O-Negs live a nomadic life, hidden in the wilderness. Markets, places of the dead (like the Dome), and churches are sacred, neutral territories, according to the Rules of Blood.
Cinnamon Jones, the O-Positive tribe’s storyteller, tells the legend of a beautiful city named New Orleans, caught in the middle of a custody fight between the sky and the sea.
Cinnamon’s story be reaching the point where the sky and the sea can’t live without New Orleans being they own, so they start to fight over her, sending they daughters and they sons to wreak havoc. I be too far away to hear him naming the storms that tore the city down, but I know the names: Rita, Katrina, Isaiah, Lorenzo, all the way up to Jesus, or Hayseus, like Cinnamon say. And that be the end of New Orleans. She love that last storm so much, she run off with him and leave only Orleans behind.
Lydia Moray is the OP tribe’s chieftain, and Fen’s best friend. Fen hopes to someday convince Lydia that the tribe has grown too large, that it should be split in two, and that Fen should lead the second tribe.
Then Lydia dies during childbirth, and Fen promises to give Baby Girl a better life, a life beyond the Wall, in the Outer States.
Daniel is a scientist in the Outer States. He is working to find a cure for the Delta Fever virus. The key to success, he believes, is to smuggle himself into the quarantined area and make his way to the abandoned city of Orleans. Parts of the book are told from his point of view, in the third-person.
Orleans is a Young Adult novel. Fen is a strong teenage girl, using her strength, wits, and knowledge to get through some horrific situations.
Orleans is a great novel. It creates a believable, well-crafted post-apocalyptic world, complete with its own rules, languages, cultures, and characters. It is a book full of surprises, right up to the end.
I loved Orleans. I want to read more of Sherri L. Smith’s works.
- A book by a person of color