code orange

Cooney, Caroline B. Code Orange. NY: Delacort Press/Random, 2005.

narrator: third-person limited, Mitty (Mitchell John) Blake

Just finished first chapter and I’m hooked. Check out this last section of chapter 1…which switches to an omniscient third-person narrator:

“Scab particles were in Mitty Blake’s fingerprints. He had wiped them on his cheek and rubbed them against his nose. He had breathed them in.

Every virus, although not quite alive, nevertheless has a shelf ‘life.’ The shelf life of some viruses is known; the shelf life of others is uncertain.

In this case, it was the shelf life of Mitchell John Blake that was uncertain.”

Dun dun dun dunnnnn…great first-chapter cliffhanger. And I like Mitty. He’s a total schlubb when it comes to academics, but he’s passionate about music. He has ambitions; he wants to become a rock concert reviewer. His family is rich, has other plans, pressure him to become a doctor. We get a good sense of place — contrast between NY City and Connecticut. That’s a lot of information and setup for the first chapter, the first fourteen pages. Then there’s the mystery; what are those scabs? And what will happen to the lackadaisical Mitty, who has a crush on Olivia, the most studious girl in the class?

Just finished…this is a good read. Great for history, science. Mitty remains an entertaining smartmouth and does go through a transformation. I did not like the caricature of terrorists and the heavy references to the World Trade Towers. On some level, Code Orange is Cooney’s pledge to NYC, her fierce condemnation of cowardly hate-mongers. At least, that’s how she pictures them. Doesn’t help to foster that kind of absolute Us vs. Them, first-world and everybody-else schism.


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