Ever since the deadly outbreak of Delta Fever, the entire Gulf Cost has been cut off from the rest of the Outer States. The people on the outside assume that almost everyone in Orleans is dead. But that is far from the case. Fen de la Guerre lives in Orleans. In Orleans, you live with a tribe that corresponds to your blood type. Blood is the most precious commodity in Orleans, and you need a tribe to protect you. But Fen's tribe has just been attacked, and now she has her leader's new born daughter, and the promise that she will give the baby a better life. Daniel is a scientist whose brother died of the Delta Fever. Daniel is so close to finding the cure. He believes that going into Orleans itself will help him get there.
I liked the set-up for this story a lot. No, it's not at all new that there was a deadly outbreak of some kind and part of the U.S. gets quarantined and young people must struggle to survive. BUT! Sherri Smith went beyond the rather old and tired trope and created a really interesting way of life. Delta Fever appears to be a kind of blood disease, and different blood types are effected different ways. Fen is an O-Positive, and that's a good thing to be. She has the Fever, but it's not going to make her go crazy, unlike some other blood types. Because having "clean" blood is so important, back market blood farms have sprung up, and it isn't unusual go tribes to attack each other for their blood, or to sell them to a blood farm. It's super creepy, and yet, totally fascinating.
Fen is a tough cookie who, after her parents were killed, lived on her own for a while and experienced some fairly terrible things. She then became part of the O-Positive tribe, lead by Lydia, who Fen is devoted too. Lydia wants to try and make alliances with other tribes to stop the killing and constant fighting. Unfortunately their tribe is attacked, and Fen ends up on her own with Lydia's baby, determined to get the child out of Orleans. The baby's blood is clean, for now, but soon she will be affected too and then no one in the Outer Sates will take her.
Daniel is a smarty pants young scientist who works for the military. His brother died of Delta Fever and Daniel believes he will be the one to find a cure. He is close, except that what he has no doesn't actually cure the Fever. It kills the carrier. He doesn't want the military to get their hands on it, so he brings it with in on his journey into Orleans for more information. There used to be an Institute in Orleans that was studying Delta Fever. Surely there will be information there.
Daniel isn't really expecting to find many people in Orleans. He certainly wasn't expecting to find a whole society, alive, if not exactly well. It blows his Outer States mind, as does the conditions that the people must live in.
There's lots of mystery and twists and turns in the story. We learn more and more about Fen's background. We learn about the people who worked at the Institute and what they were really trying to figure out. I also like that Fen and Daniel do not form a romantic relationship. They reluctantly work together, not really frustrating each other, and gradually form a bond, but it's not a romantic one. That was kind of cool. Boy and girls don't always have to fall in love! There are all sorts of relationship! They can, like, friends and stuff.
I also enjoyed how the book was in both Fen and Daniel's point of views. It was interesting to hear how they described each other. I'd built a picture of Fen based on her character, and then Daniel described how he sees her and it was odd because it just didn't quite match up.
This is the first book in a series.