Friday, May 11, 2007

Code Orange by Caroline B. Cooney

Mitty Blake's biggest mistake was actually doing his homework. He lives in an apartment in New York City. Mitty attends a private school, St. Raphael's. He started a project on infectious disease for biology class. In one of the old textbooks he used for his research, he found an envelope labeled "Scabs-VM epidemic, 1902, Boston." Inside were scabs from smallpox, which was all but destroyed during the twentieth century. For the next week, Mitty can't concentrate on his project, his best friend, Derek, his girlfriend, Olivia, or his classes. He was worried he would catch the virus after finding out that it was from a dangerous strain, variola major. This strain will kill him. His research gets him more and more worried. Mitty decides to write an email to numerous people and organizations on the internet. After writing back, it seems there is a good chance he might catch smallpox. After nine days have passed since touching the scabs, a woman from the CDC approaches Mitty on the street. As Mitty goes with her, he is hit on the head. When he is missing, his mother calls the police. By this point, the FBI has become involved. They ask both Olivia and Derek where Mitty might be. Olivia and Derek then figure out that the FBI is scared one of the contacts from the internet may have been a terrorist and they abducted Mitty to infect the nation. Meanwhile, Mitty regains consciousness in a locked basement. He figures out that there is almost no hope of escape. However, Mitty tricks them and locks his guards in the basement. A few hours later, Mitty rigs a furnace to poison them all with carbon monoxide gas. The next day, the terrorist group leaders come and are about to take Mitty away when he locks the door on them. Mitty had a few scratches from a fight with his guards, but no smallpox. He has to be treated for his wounds in a hospital. All of the terrorists died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Mitty and his friends and family then went back to their normal lives.

Code Orange, by Caroline B. Cooney, is one of the best books I've ever read. It is definitely a page-turner. I stayed up late in the night reading it, and read it every chance I got. School was worse than normal because I couldn't read my book. The only downside is that it was too short. I liked it so much, I finished it in a day. I read on the bus, during breakfast, even in class! I recommend this book to anyone who likes thrillers or suspense. It is very similar to Andrew Clements' Things Not Seen in that both main characters have (or think they have) a special medical condition. This book, however, is far more suspenseful. It always leaves you guessing. It throws you right into the plot and there's never a dull moment. You really get to feel what Mitty and his friends are thinking. Also, the fact that the author uses real places in New York City and real references to books is really interesting, and those that have been to these places can relate to this. When it seems Mitty will die, you are ready to start screaming at the book , but then, all of a sudden, something happens and he narrowly escapes. The fact that it could happen in real life is very scary as well. Lastly, since it has been written post-9/11, and is based in NY, it has references to real events that took place on that day. Ten out of ten in my books.

Some of the descriptions of the smallpox symptoms could be disturbing to younger children.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 10
Reviewer Age: 13

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