Smith imagines a captivating and truly frightening future for the United States, one in which six devastating hurricanes follow Katrina’s path right into the heart of the crippled Gulf Coast.
On the heels of the storms came the quarantine of the entire Gulf Coast region because of Delta Fever in 2020 and the government’s complete abandonment of the disease-ravaged sector a mere five years later. Thus, in 2056, 15-year-old Fen de la Guerre and others like her find themselves eking out a living in a primitive society, many choosing to organize themselves into tribes by blood type to gain a modicum of control over the spread of Delta Fever. When Fen’s dear friend dies while giving birth, Fen decides to try to get the newborn over the wall to the Outer States so she might have a better life. Meanwhile, a young scientist named Daniel sneaks across the border into Orleans to further his search for a cure for the fever. Fen and Daniel become strong, if unlikely, allies. While a couple of plot points stretch the bounds of believability and some loose ends remain, the richly textured worldbuilding and the complicated relationship between Fen and Daniel, as well as the constant and varied dangers they face, will keep readers up long past their bedtimes.
A harrowing and memorable ride. (Science fiction. 14 & up)