Tag Archives: quarantine

Spotlight on Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

I love good dystopian YA literature.  Today is the publication day for Sherri L. Smith’s new young adult novel, Orleans.  I am on chapter five and am deeply immersed in Smith’s harrowing and utterly fascinating world.



I was hooked from the beginning, when a series of devastating hurricanes wreaks havoc on the Big Easy.

“After the storm deaths came other casualties: deaths by debris, cuts, tetanus, or loss of blood; suicide; heart attacks caused by stress of loss, or stress of rebuilding, or just as often from the lack of medicines used to treat common ailments.  The list of no-longer-treatable diseases grew: diabetes, asthma, cancer.  Domestic violence rose, along with murder.

Then came the Fever.

And the Quarantine.”

About the book

The following summary is from Goodreads:

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.

About the author

The following information comes from Smith’s website:

Sherri L. Smith’s life can best be summed up geographically. Born in Chicago, IL, she spent her childhood in Staten Island, NY, Washington D.C., and Upstate New York. Her parents divorced when she was twelve. A year later, she moved back to Chicago with her mother and big brother. After high school, it was off to New York City for college, San Francisco for graduate school, and then Los Angeles, to make movies.

Sherri has worked in film, animation, comic books and construction. Film highlights include Tim Burton’s MARS ATTACKS!, where she worked in stop-motion animation -a truly cool art form. Sherri also worked for three years at Disney TV Animation, helping to create stories for animated home video projects.

After leaving Disney, Sherri found an unlikely home with a construction company, working in a triple-wide trailer on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport. From there she spent nine hilarious years working at Bongo Comics, the company that brings you THE SIMPSONS in print. Currently, Sherri happily spends her days writing novels and visiting her readers in schools and libraries across the country.

She lives in Los Angeles with the love of her life, and is currently working on her next book.




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It Starts with an Itch

It Starts with an Itch

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe (Disney Hyperion; 320 pages; $16.99).

            Life seems perfect for sixteen-year-old Kaelyn, until a virus ravages her island community.  The Way We Fall is book one of The Fallen World trilogy, a new YA dystopian series.


It starts with an itch you just can’t shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you’ll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in.  And then you’re dead.


The premise sounds good; Crewe’s execution, though, is faulty.  It seems a good idea to set the story on an island, a place accessible only by ferry.  At first, the government promises to send medicines and supplies to the residents via the ferry.  This is just not enough for those watching their families die.  Riots break out, forcing those in control to cease ferry operations.  Islanders must scavenge, steal, and loot to survive.  Others depend on the kindness of neighbors.  I feel setting the story on an island boxes Crewe in.  There is just little she can do in such an isolated place.  I would have liked to have seen this set in the middle of a country, with some escaping and taking the virus with them.  I would have liked to see it spread more.


Crewe is vague on what kind of virus the islanders have.  It has no name.  Where it comes from is a mystery.  She offers an explanation as to why some survive the virus while others die.  I want more.  I am just not totally convinced.


The story is told through letters Kaelyn writes to a former friend who lives in New York named Leo.  At the very end of the novel, Crewe miraculously brings back the ferry with no explanation as to why it is returning at that particular time and not before.  Kaelyn sees the ferry approaching and believes she sees Leo on it.  Other than this, Leo is absent from the novel.  We know him only from Kaelyn’s recollections.  Will the next book be from Leo’s perspective?  Will he write letters to Kaelyn?  The letter format turns me off.  Instead, I would have liked to see the story told from multiple points of view.


The Way We Fall is plausible.  As I read, I shake my head or nod in agreement.  In a situation like this, society as we know it would break down.  Social niceties would cease to exist.  In that sense, Crewe presents a believable story.


I am sure YA readers will love The Way We Fall.  The book makes for good escapism.


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