March 5th, 2009

Code Orange is red hot

I just finished reading Code Orange (Readers Circle), a YA thriller about a slacker kid who is running behind on his biology paper, which is supposed to be about infectious disease. Then he finds some old medical textbooks his mother has bought to redecorate a house. And one of them has an envelope with two small scabs from a smallpox epidemic. Of course, he opens them up and breathes in some of the old dust. Is Mitty infected with a disease for which there is no cure - and which could kill millions?

What I liked (envied) about this book was how well Caroline Cooney wrote third-person POV with such a strong voice.

This is how it begins:
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"On Friday, Mr. Lynch walked around the classroom making sure everybody had written down the due date in their assignment books. Luckily, he started at the far side, giving Mitty Blake time to whisper to his best friend, "Due date for what?"

"Notes for the term paper," whispered Derek. "The one you've been working on for four weeks?"
Mitty hadn't even chosen a topic yet.

But Mr. Lynch had been teaching for years. He had encountered many Mittys. So although the paper itself didn't have to be turned in until February 18, on this coming Monday, February 2, each student in advanced biology had to submit an outline, ten pages of notes and a bibliography including four physical books.

"Books?" said Mitty, stunned. He was sure this had not been mentioned before. "Mr. Lynch, nobody uses books anymore. They're useless, especially in science. Facts change too fast."

"Books," repeated Mr. Lynch. "This is to prevent you people from doing a hundred percent of your research online."

Mitty had done zero percent anywhere, but he had certainly planned--insofar as Mitty had plans, which he didn't--to do his research online."
====
There are flashes of humor, too:

"Mitty stretched happily. He could lie down anytime, anywhere and sleep soundly for ten hours. Twelve, even. People could sit on him and watch television, have arguments and clean up after a sick dog, and Mitty would never know."



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