Code Orange

Code Orange

4.2 165
by Caroline B. Cooney

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Mitty Blake loves New York City, and even after 9/11 he's always felt safe. He's a carefree guy, which is why he's late getting started on his advanced bio report. He'd much rather watch the game or hang out than do research on infectious diseases just to get a good grade. So he considers it good luck when he finds some old medical books in his family's weekend house…  See more details below


Mitty Blake loves New York City, and even after 9/11 he's always felt safe. He's a carefree guy, which is why he's late getting started on his advanced bio report. He'd much rather watch the game or hang out than do research on infectious diseases just to get a good grade. So he considers it good luck when he finds some old medical books in his family's weekend house that focus on something he could write about. But when he discovers an envelope containing two scabs in one of the books, the report is no longer about the grade--it's about life and death. His own.

From the author of The Face on the Milk Carton, Caroline B. Cooney has crafted a bioterrorism thriller that is hard to put down.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Cooney's (The Face on the Milk Carton) rat-a-tat delivery and hairpin turns keep the pages turning in this attention-grabbing post-9/11 thriller. Hunting for a topic for his biology research paper on infectious disease, Manhattan private schooler Mitty Blake picks up an antique textbook, discovers an envelope within its pages, and takes out its contents: scabs from a long-ago smallpox epidemic. (Wild as this plot element may seem, it is based on a recent, real-life event, as a closing author's note explains.) Though initially pleased to have averted academic disaster, an ominous fear grows in the boy: Did he ingest a portion of the scabs and could he now be incubating the smallpox virus? Mitty's realization that he may be a walking viral time bomb is neatly underscored by Cooney's affectionate rendering of his uniquely New York lifestyle ("Everything was always open. Just to test this, Mitty and his dad would sometimes get a hot dog, sushi or a toothbrush at three a.m."). The protagonist's rash e-mail queries make him the target of a terrorist group that aims to harvest the smallpox virus from his body. As he improvises a daring yet ultimately plausible scheme to save his beloved city, Mitty makes a convincing transformation from sweet-natured slacker to bona fide hero. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Happy-go-lucky Mitty, a junior at a Manhattan prep school, finds his comfortable world turned upside down when he starts to research smallpox for a biology report and is accidentally exposed to old smallpox scabs he finds stuck in an envelope in an old medical book. Suddenly, his research takes on a new urgency—will he come down with smallpox and inadvertently unleash the dreadful virus on the world once again? When he sends out inquires about his plight on the Internet, the response isn't quite what he expects. Terrorists kidnap him, eager to use smallpox for their own nefarious purposes, and it takes all of Mitty's cleverness to defeat them. This thriller from the author of The Face on the Milk Carton and other novels for YAs incorporates lots of information on smallpox and its history, and readers will enjoy the suspense as Mitty first realizes his predicament and then must battle the terrorists. An intriguing topic, and an absorbing story. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, Random House, Delacorte, 192p. bibliog., and (Lib. bdg: ). Ages 12 to 18.
—Paula Rohrlick
Children's Literature
Sixteen-year-old Mitty Blake lives in Manhattan and attends an exclusive private school. He is bright enough but rarely exerts any effort involving school work. In fact, he always puts off doing assignments and rarely even hands them in on time, if at all.When Mr. Lynch, the biology teacher, insists that books be used for the class term paper, Mitty is overwhelmed, as he had planned to rely just on the internet. When he finds scabs from small pox in a one hundred year old medical book, life becomes very complicated. Is he infected because he handled them? Has he infected others? Will terroists try and get the scabs from him? Should he contact the authorities and/or the government? This thriller is sure to appeal to teenagers living in the post 9/11 world as well as those who can relate to Mitty's attitude toward school work. 2005, Delacorte Press, Ages 12 to 16.
—Sylvia Firth
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Most readers will have high expectations from the creator of The Face on the Milk Carton (1991) and the "Out of Time" series (both Random), but they might be a little disappointed in this offering. Mitty Blake is a talented but underachieving student in advanced biology at a New York City private high school. He is more interested in his friend Olivia than in completing his infectious-disease report, which could keep him from flunking. When he discovers a smallpox scab in an envelope in an old medical book, his research takes a somewhat urgent turn as he tries to determine whether he has contracted the disease. Searching for information on the Internet (thankfully, the high-achieving Olivia knows how to use a library), he inadvertently alerts a terrorist group to his situation. They kidnap Mitty with the intention of using him as a human biological weapon against the people of New York. This should be a highly suspenseful story, but the pacing is often slow and the characters underdeveloped. Even in this day and age, the terrorist angle seems far-fetched, and this underachiever's heroic efforts at the end seem out of character for him. Cooney's fans will undoubtedly read this book, but it doesn't meet the standards set in some of her young adult classics.-Courtney Lewis, Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School, Kingston, PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Cooney continues her mastery of suspense with this story about a screw-up rich kid and bio-terrorism. Sixteen-year old Mitty cares about nothing but music and Olivia, the school's ace scholar. Mitty deliberately blows off school, until he's forced to start a paper for his biology class. He finds an old medical book and in it, an envelope containing two scabs from a 1902 smallpox epidemic. He crumbles one, and inhales the dust from it. Then Mitty begins to learn about the horrors of smallpox, and realizes that he may have exposed himself. Terrified not only of getting the disease, but also of starting another epidemic, Mitty keeps his secret until he can't escape the fact that somehow he must become a real hero. Punctuating the drama with plenty of humor, Cooney builds the suspense and keeps it going for another teen-pleaser that's hard to put down. (Fiction. 12-14)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter OneOn 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. So he said, "Mr. Lynch, an actual book is out of date before it gets printed. Anyway, a good scientist does laboratory research.""We did laboratory research last fall, Mitty," said Mr. Lynch. "I don't recall that you threw yourself into your project. I recall that you received a passing grade only through the efforts of the rest of your team. A scientist, Mitty, has to be able to dig through the published research of others. A scientist has to grasp the background and history of things. That means books."Mitty was willing to grasp the background and history of rock music. On a slow day, he could listen to Nirvana or Pearl Jam. But the background and history of disease?Because that was the depressing topic of this assignment: infectious disease."Each of you," Mr. Lynch had said, so many weeks ago that Mitty could barely remember it, "will choose an infectious disease of plants, animals or humans. You will study the disease in history and its ancient treatments or lack of them. If the disease has a specific history for us here in New York City--for example, during the yellow fever epidemics of the 1700s, people sometimes died at the rate of three hundred per city block per day--you will cover that. Other sections of your paper: description and course of the disease, current treatments and ongoing research. Finally, if your disease has an application in bioterrorism, you will cover that also."Even Mitty had awakened briefly to the exciting possibility of bioterrorism.Derek of course had wanted to be an exception to the rules. "Can we research bioterrorism only? I want to do anthrax but specifically Ottilie Lundgren, the ninety-four-year-old woman who died of anthrax in 2001 when she opened her mail. She's FBI case number 184. It's impossible for me to use books. No book has been written about her yet. All my research has to be online." Derek warmed to a favorite topic. "I can solve her mystery. I believe everything is online now, every clue I need, and I can nail her murderer.""I would be proud of you," Mr. Lynch had said, without sarcasm, "and you may focus on Ottilie Lundgren, but all that will do is make your paper longer. You still have to include everything I described and you still must have four books. Remember, class, that I too know how to use I too can pull up a title that looks useful and stick it in a bibliography without actually reading the book. I too can open up the free first chapter and find something to put in my notes. I will know if you actually read a book or if you are cheating."Mr. Lynch was one of the few teachers who admitted that even here at St. Raphael's, a Manhattan prep school for the rich and/or brilliant (Mitty fell into the first category), there was such a thing as cheating. Other teachers skirted this possibility as if it were anthrax-laced mail.Right away, rare cool African diseases like Ebola and Lassa fever had been chosen by eager students. Two other kids also wanted anthrax but promised not to invade Derek's territory by mentioning Ottilie Lundgren. As the days went by, people began discussing their topics with excitement, as if they were genuinely interested. One girl had been allowed to choose Immunization: does it or does it not cause autism? Mitty would get autism just thinking about that. Another girl really did pick a plant disease and was deep into corn blight. Olivia, whom Mitty adored, had chosen typhoid fever and was already so advanced in her research that she was using the library of Columbia University's medical school, because every other library in New York City was too limited. Mitty hadn't been inside any library in the city of New York.As soon as Mr. Lynch finished ranting, Mitty slumped down in his seat. He had perfected the technique of listening to music on his iPod while a teacher talked. It was easy if he wore long sleeves. He kept the iPod in its armband and ran the cord down his arm and into his hand. Cupping the earpiece in his palm, he would rest his head on the same hand and listen to his music. His eyes stayed fixed on his teachers, who tended to be fond of him because he seemed so interested.Mitty's main interest was music. His life plan was to become a rock concert reviewer, the world's best job, and to prepare for this career, he had to buy, listen to and memorize everything out there. He really didn't have time for term papers. He certainly didn't have time for books.Mr. Lynch extended his hand for Mitty's assignment calendar.Every fall, St. Raphael's handed these out.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Code Orange 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 147 reviews.
BookLover44 More than 1 year ago
'Code Orange' was a book I read for Summer Reading. The first few chapters didn't pull me in, but I decided that I should keep reading. I am glad that I did! This is probably one of my favorite books! I finished it in less than a day and it is a terriffic, fast read. I would recomend it to everyone and anyone.
Mikarabians More than 1 year ago
Code Orange by Caroline B. Cooney is a scary and amazing read. Just like in previous books, Cooney manages to portray a real feeling, emotional, scary, teenage setting. Mitty is a normal, lazy, teenage guy growing up in New York City. That is until his teacher assigns a report on infectious diseases and he actually decides to do his homework for once. He opens a hundred year old book his mother has lying around and finds Smallpox scabs from the 1911 epidemic. It doesn't occur to him until about half way through his report what this could mean for him. As teens are prone to do, Mitty keeps the problem to himself and lets it haunt him. This book is an emotional roller coaster, one minute Mitty's sure he's dying, the next he figures his contact with the scabs was actually an ancient innaculation, the next he's worrying about opening the epidemic again to the whole world. This story has an amazing, new and exciting plot; an invisible enemy with no brain and no conscience. This story has an amazing ending and will leave your skin crawling for days. This is most definately an unforgettable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books i have read in a while. Fast paced and keeps you thinking. Amazing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very good read, somthing i see me reading over and over again!
yesac11 More than 1 year ago
Mitty, a teenage boy that attends a Manhattan advanced biology class, scrambles to finish a project that he had been slacking off on for the past few weeks. Now for the sake of getting kicked out of school, he gets a move on writing down a few small pox notes when he stumbles upon a 100 year old sealed envelope... I would reccomend this book to sci-fi action readers for the sophisticated, yet intrigueing story line. i rate this book a 9.3/10
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
code orange is a really good book. its about this boy Mitty who has to do a history report and he did his on smallpox. i would say read the book and find out what happens but i think it was a good book not just a waste of time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok, so a long time ago (like years) I read this book. Over the years I have been trying to figure out the name of this book and I finally did, ater looking in the back of Burning Up, another Caroline B Cooney book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was AWESOME!!! There were so many twists and turns, it alwyas kept you on your toes. Had the perfect ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 11-14
Kathryn Lienhard More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a report in health, and i enjoyed it.
Tina_Chan More than 1 year ago
Title: Code  Orange ¿Author: Caroline B. Cooney Genre: speculative fiction Review: Okay, first of all--what the heck is "speculative fiction"? I had no idea what genre to classify this book so I  googled it up and that was  the answer. Honestly, speculative fiction sounds like sci-fi. Maybe they're like cousin genres? Anyways, enough said about genres-I- didn't-know-existed-until-now.  My thoughts for this book was mixed. I had heard some great reviews about Code Orange so I was looking forward to reading it. Perhaps I had set my expectations too high because I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I would Alrighty, let's start off with the good parts, shall we? I really liked the whole plot idea of Code Orange.  Scratch that. I really really really liked the whole plot line. Mitty, the main character of the novel, is assigned with the task of writing a report about an infectious  disease.  He decides to do research on some pox diseases. When he opens up an old medical book, he is surprised to find an envelope labeled "Pox Scabs" (or something like that...I don't remember exactly and I've already returned the book to the library so I can't look it up. ) And guess what, he freaking opens it!!!! I mean seriously...this kid's in high school and he opens an envelope filled with pox scabs even after he learns a lot about how deadly  small pox is! Well, now Mitty is potentially infected with small pox, a disease thought to be long dead. This opens up the doorway to the topic of bioterrorism.  It turns out terrorist are willing to release deadly diseases and small pox seems to be the perfect virus to fulfill this job.  Mitty gets kidnapped by some terrorists wanting to use him as a biological  weapon and before he knows it, he's world is spiraling out of control. Okay, now let's touch bases on the part I didn't like so much about this book. Actually, there's really only ONE thing I didn't enjoy about Code Orange: Mitty.  I strongly disliked this Mitty character. I mean, he's supposed to be a high school junior yet his actions are like of a 5th graders! Like I mentioned before, he opens an envelope filled with small pox scabs. Then he offers it online. Also, although I feel like he would be a nice kid in real life, he is just so lazy (and I'm pretty lazy myself but Mitty's laziness is a whole different level.) I feel like  if Mitty was maybe a middle schooler, his character would be much more believable. My final thoughts: Great book for younger readers (like 5th-8th grade.) Likes:     *interesting plot line; I haven't read any books revolving around a disease before     *you learn some facts about infectious diseases Dislikes:     *the main character
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just got this book on my nook and i dont want to put it down. It's probably gross for girly girls but i think its a great book so far. I didnt finish it but so far its really good. Im not even halfway through at the moment. By the way, im a girl and im not really girly but can be...but i love this book so i recommend it. For those people who say its horrible, you should check yourselves because this book keeps you wondering if mitty has smallpox or not! Such a great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thrushpaw <p> 6 moons <p> Male <p> Light brown tabby with amber eyes. Fluffeh!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been taken to orange city go to res 2
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name --- Dur. Look up. Age: 13 Moons. Appearance: Reddish-brown tom with a white belly and faint white stripes. He has a small limp in his right front paw and a scar over his left eye. His eyes are red with a glint of silver. Personality: Shy at first, and doesn't talk too much. He'll only talk to people he looks up to or fellow Clan members. He is creative and flexible. He is actually decent at hunting and enjoys it. Likes: Medicining, sleeping, hunting. Dislikes: Water, mud, twolegs thinkng he looks cute and picks him up and takes horrible photos with a white, thin box they call an 'iPhone'. Mate: None. Kits: Emberheart (Adopted), an snow white she-cat with green eyes who enjoys hunting. Skills: Medicining. &#9786 &#9786 &#9786
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name--Flintspark<p>Age--19 moons.<p>Looks--super-light ginger mottled with white patches. Dull yellow eyes.<p>Gender--Tom.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name &infin Look up <p> Age &infin Don't Bother Asking <p> Gender &infin Tidepool <p> Appearance &infin A bluish silver with longfur and beautiful blue eyes. <p> Species &infin Main Coon <p> Abilities -infin Can summon water at will. When angry her eyes radiate and a crashing wave crashes down either drowning the cat or making them die of hypothermia. When shy small puddles form at her feet. <p> Crush &infin Starts with a... Who cares it's Tundra! <p> Mate &infin Naw <p> Kits &infin Loves them but no!!! ToT <p> Siggy &infin &#10003 <p> Rper- &infin Breeze &infin <p> Theme Song- Demons by Imagine Dragons
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is good so far! Caroline B. Cooney leaves you on the edge of your seat! I like it! Read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!(I am also kinda a girly girl) Those of you who think this is just for guys..... really? I don't think anyone would care. The book is great action, light violence and a little bit of romance! I recommend to ALL genders ages 9-14!
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