Code Orange features my least favorite type of character: an overprivileged New York prep student. I was hoping for a lot of character growth, because at first, Mitty Blake is obnoxious and proudly ignorant. While he never becomes a person I'd like for a friend, he does get more interesting.
Mitty coasts easily through life, slacking on his schoolwork until he realizes that his report on an infectious disease is due. While researching smallpox, he comes across an envelope with two scabs, which he accidentally inhales. He continues traipsing around the city while the virus grows in his system; Caroline B. Cooney cleverly ends each chapter with a description of how the infection has developed in Mitty. Once he decides to let people know he may have contracted smallpox, Mitty ends up involving the FBI, terrorists, and his overachieving crush.
I can tell how I felt about a book by how quickly I review it. If I start writing immediately, it was a book that struck a cord with me. I kept putting off reviewing Code Orange, because I really wanted it to be better. It's a gripping plot idea, but the novel never lives up to its promise. While I walked away having learned a lot about smallpox, the numerous nonfiction texts being quoted would not appeal to most readers in my class. If I knew a reader who was particularly interested in diseases or wanted to be a doctor, I would recommend Code Orange. Otherwise, there are plenty of other books I'd suggest first.