Orleans by Sherrie L. Smith
A written review by Adrienne
There were five hurricanes after Katrina. Each one with more strength: Isaiah, Lorenzo, Olga, Laura, Paloma. Each hurricane slowly decimated the populations of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. It was Hurricane Jesus in 2019 that was the final straw. After it, barely over 10,000 people were left alive in those southern states. Death came in the form of flying debris, cuts, tetanus, and lack of medicines for most common ailments. Then the fever came; a fever with no cure. Finally, the government decided to save the parts of America it could and walled up those southern states keeping those behind it there.
Her name is Fen de la Guerre, she’s known for her fierceness and she lives in Orleans. Where she comes from, they don’t shake hands. If someone were to get a hold of her with one hand, they could have a knife in the other. What you want to know is her blood type. See, behind the wall, you and Fen couldn’t be sitting together enjoying each other’s company. It’s too dangerous. She’s O Positive and all the other blood types hunt her. Why? ‘Cause their blood not only carriers the fever they will die from it without transfusions; transfusions of O Positive’s like Fen. Now, Fen has this baby girl who hasn’t been touched by the fever, she’s clean, and Fen promised the baby’s mother to get her beyond the wall and to a better life and that’s what she’s going to do.
Smith’s apocalyptic book takes you to a world, similar to ours, but so frightening and despairing. The author does not spare the reader at all. She shows us everything from the dead bodies being kept in the Superdome by the Sister’s to what daily life is like when people are cut off from everything including help. Fen is a strong, quick-witted, survivalist in the order of Katsa from Graceling and stubborn like Quintana from The Lumatere Chronicles.
What I liked was Fen’s single focus on achieving her goal to get her friend’s baby beyond the wall. Fen is resourceful and doesn’t scare easy. I liked that almost nothing surprises her and she adapts to anything that happens just as quickly as the problem arises. Smith writes Fen in a patois or dialect I found it fit Fen’s character perfectly. The tone is grim, resilient and dark. Good things happen, bad things happen. That’s life. Well, that’s life behind the wall.