Young Adult Literature without Apology

Amy's assessment of contemporary young adult literature, organized by author and title, censored by noone.


Realistic | Romance | Science Fiction | Historical Fiction | Fantasy | Horror | Mystery

Cooney, Caroline B. (2005). Code Orange. NY: Delacorte. ISBN: 0385732597. 208 pages.

Mitty has perfected the art of disengagement; uninterested in school, in every class he secretly listens to his Ipod and prepares for the career he hopes to have as a concert reviewer. His only incentive to remain in an advanced biology class is his crush on a fellow student so--despite his reluctance--he begins work on a major class assignment related to viral epidemics. When he serendipitously finds what looks like skin or scab samples in an envelope in an old book about small pox, Mitty begins research in earnest and learns that he may have a deadly weapon on his hands. As he digs into the assignment, the news gets worse: By virtue of just handling the envelope and its samples, Mitty may already be infected with the disease. Cooney peppers the action with factual information about viruses in a technique similar to that used by Scott Westerfeld in his comparable Peeps. Unfortunately, Cooney's exposition is significantly less effective than Westerfeld's and--for all its potential for high drama and major gross outs--Code Orange fails as anything but an hysterical and reactionary novel. When Matty is kidnapped by terrorists who want to use him (they assume he is infected and soon-to-be contagious) as a weapon, the theme of patriotism and heroics is overwraught to the point that it becomes almost sickening. We get it, we get it, Caroline Cooney: terrorism and biological weapons are bad and the United States and freedom are good and sometimes a person has to be willing to sacrifice his own life to maintain this specious truth.
This is a high interest title that piqued my curiousity right away. Who doesn't want to read an action adventure novel about the potential release of a dangerous viral agent? The premise of the novel (as well as Cooney's status as an author) will attract readers; they can make their own decisions about quality.