by Caroline B. Cooney
Review by Aidan Emerson
The novel I read is called Code Orange by Caroline B. Cooney. This book is about a 16 year old boy from Manhattan named Mitchell Blake, or Mitty for short. In this story, Mitty has one major conflict that he must solve, or the world as he knows it will most likely end.
Mitty Blake is pretty much an average kid: he has friends; he has parents who want him to do better in school; but he has something most 16 year olds don’t have–a deadly virus. On Friday, January 30th, Mitty was given the assignment of turning in an outline, 10 pages of notes and a bibliography with four physical books included. This was all for a term paper that Mitty was supposed to have been working on four weeks prior. Mitty had not yet even picked his topic, the required subject being “infectious diseases.”
For his topic he chose Variola major (which he later found to be smallpox). While visiting a vacation home in Connecticut, he came upon 4 books, old medical texts, just what he needed for his bibliography. Reading through one of the books, he came upon an envelope labeled ”Scabs.” Opening the envelope, he found scabs from a 1902 smallpox epidemic. Not thinking much of them at the time, he took them out of their envelope, crushed them up between his fingers and accidentally breathed in the dust particles.
A few days passed, and with more research on his topic, he came to the conclusion that he, Mitty Blake, could in fact have smallpox. He posted questions on the internet asking if it was possible to become infected by 100 year old smallpox scabs. His responses varied from “probably not” to “it is very possible.” One member of the online forum said that they were informing the F.B.I because they thought the message was a threat.
Mitty was confused because he wasn’t sure what to do with himself. He could be infectious, and he could not be. Nevertheless, he thought that the Federal Bureau of Investigation would have better things to do than attempt to track down some 16 year old boy about something to do with his English paper, but he was wrong.
On Wednesday, February 11, Mitty Blake went missing. He had not shown up for dinner and was not in school in the following morning. Everyone was wondering where he had gone. Had he run away? Had he been kidnapped? The truth is, on Tuesday, February 10, Mitty had been kidnapped by a group of terrorists who wanted to use the disease to bring down the United States.
Mitty Blake must face this challenge alone, in the dark and with a chance that he himself might have the disease and be able to spread it just by breathing.
I would recommend this novel to people because it is very riveting and you want to know what happens next after every chapter.