Code Orange is an insult to literature


Photo Credit: Photo by Robyn Epstein used with permission

Winning numerous awards, Code Orange is liked by some but hated by the rest.

By: Robyn Epstein, Co-Editor in Chief

Code Orange is a young adult novel written by Caroline B. Cooney. It follows a boy named Mitchell Blake who discovers a book for a project that changes his life forever.

Cooney is an American author of suspense, romance, horror, and mystery books for young adults. One of her most famous works, Code Orange was published in 2005 and has gain praise and numerous awards. The novel has won a National Science Teachers Association award. Also, The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy has named the book as one of their Young Adult Choices for 2007.

The novel revolves around a teenage boy Mitchell “Mitty” Blake who lives in New York City with his parents. He is a carefree student who doesn’t really care about school or his grades. However, his biology teacher Mr. Lynch assigns the class to write a report on an infectious disease. On a trip to Connecticut, Mitty finds a book containing an envelope of 100-year-old scabs from smallpox. He inhales dust from one of the scabs and believes that he has received the smallpox disease. Afraid he has the disease, Mitty goes online and tries to find answers. However, with terrorist trying to attack the United States, Mitty contacting strangers on the internet might not have been the best idea.


Normally I try to give books the benefit of the doubt but I really disliked Code Orange. I found this novel extremely unrealistic and their were parts that made no sense. The pacing of the novel was very slow. There were some parts that took forever to get to the point and their were other parts that just ended with no explanation.

For example, when Mitty exhales the smallpox crumbs and thinks he contains the virus was unrealistic. If Mitty is a teenage boy I think he should know better and realize that you cannot get smallpox from that. Also, I don’t understand how he apparently shows signs of smallpox but they immediately go away like nothing ever happened.


The biggest issue I have of this novel is the fact how that conflict just happens without any explanation and then ends with no resolution whatsoever. It takes forever for Cooney to get to the point of the novel and when she finally gets there it just ends.

Also, I was really disappointing with the ending because I felt like I read the book for nothing. I understand that the author didn’t want the main character to have smallpox but she could have done a better job on explaining what happened to the terrorists and Mitty and why Mitty had symptoms of smallpox in the first place.

I respect Cooney, National Science Teachers Association, and The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy but I have to disagree with their opinions towards this book. Goodreads gave this novel a 3.6 out of 6 which I would say is to high. I personally would give the novel a 2 out of 6 stars. Due to the fact that I have read worse novels but I have read a lot better ones.

This novel is recommended for young adults ranging from middle school until high school so anyone younger than 12 should not read.

Overall, I would not recommend this novel to anyone but I respect Cooney and her works.