Code Orange

Code Orange

by Caroline B. Cooney

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Walking around New York City was what Mitty Blake did best. He loved the city, and even after 9/11, he always felt safe. Mitty was a carefree guy–he didn’t worry about terrorists or blackouts or grades or anything, which is why he was late getting started on his Advanced Bio report.
Mitty does feel a little pressure to hand something in–if he doesn’t, he’ll be switched out of Advanced Bio, which would be unfortunate since Olivia’s in Advanced Bio. 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 old envelope with two scabs in one of the books, the report is no longer about the grade–it’s about life and death. His own.
This edge-of-your-seat thriller will leave you breathless.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307483058
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 12/10/2008
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 206,806
File size: 3 MB
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Caroline B. Cooney is the bestselling and award-winning author of numerous books for young people. She lives in Westbrook, Connecticut, and New York City.

Read an Excerpt

Code Orange

By Caroline B. Cooney

Random House

Caroline B. Cooney
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0385732597

Chapter One

Chapter One

On 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.

Excerpted from Code Orange by Caroline B. Cooney Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

1. In Chapter One, Mitty learns that the term paper assigned by his biology teacher, Mr. Lynch, requires a bibliography that includes at least four physical books, so that students’ research is not done exclusively online. Discuss how the Internet is as important as any character in this novel.

2. Mitty is a likeable slacker. How do his relationships with his friends, the people in his neighborhood, and his family change as the story develops? How does Mitty himself change? Discuss Mitty’s feelings about his “hometown,” New York City. How does where you live change your view of the world?

3. Except for laboratory samples, variola major, a killer virus, has been eliminated by scientists.How can people feel safe despite the threat of bioterrorism? How involved should government become with scientific research?

4. Mitchell John Blake and Olivia Clark are classmates and friends, yet each wants more from their friendship. How do Mitty and Olivia signal their interest to each other? Do male and female approaches to romantic involvement differ? How?

5. Often teenagers do not confide in their parents, even though their parents want to know what’s going on. Discuss the complex relationship between Mitty and his parents. Can you understand his parents’ point of view?

6. The FBI and the CDC come to Mitty’s school seeking information. Discuss the issues of privacy vs. homeland security.

7. When Mitty sends out a general e-mail asking for information on the scabs he has found, he has no idea who might reply. Who are the bad guys in this story? How do you think people such as terrorists justify killing innocent people? Can you think of any cause that would lead you to violent action?

8. Mitty realizes that turning himself in to the proper authorities could mean life or death–not only for him, but also for millions of people. Discuss how Mitty develops a stronger sense of patriotism and decides to go with the woman he believes is from the CDC.What is the meaning of being a good citizen?

Customer Reviews

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Code Orange 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 156 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!
DF6B_HannahK on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mitty attends private high school in New York City and he is a serious procrastinator. His science teacher, Mr. Lynch, assigns the class a report regarding an infectious disease. Mitty waits the week before the paper is due, and then he finally begins his research on Variola Major a week before the paper is due. He breathes in smallpox scab dust after opening an envelope in an old medical textbook dated back to the early 1900s. He walks around New York City, and he does not know whether or not he has smallpox and whether or not he could infect the entire city with the deadly disease. I enjoyed the book because it captured my attention through Mitty's constant internal struggle about whether or not he actually has smallpox or not. One has to read it until the end, in order to find out the truth about whether or not he has smallpox.
JRlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mitty Blake is a junior at St. Raphael¿s, a Manhattan prep school for the very smart or the very rich, in New York City. Mitty doesn't really care about doing his schoolwork. He would rather listen to his iPod and roam the streets. But he must do a paper on small pox for biology class or he'll be kicked out of AP Biology, which means he won't get to see Olivia. While staying the weekend at his parent¿s country home in Connecticut, Mitty discovers some very old medical texts and decides to use these for his research. While thumbing through the old text, he comes across an envelope containing scabs from the 1902 smallpox epidemic in Boston. After handling the scabs, it occurs to him that he could get smallpox from handling them, so he sends anonymous emails to various agencies to try to get some answers. The recipients get suspicious and forward the emails to the FBI. Before the FBI can find Mitty, a terrorist group that plans to use him as a biological weapon kidnaps him. Mitty is trapped and nobody knows where he is. Left alone, with nobody to rely on but himself, Mitty transforms from a laid-back slacker to an ingenious man of action. Some of the scenes are a bit difficult to believe, but the plot is faced paced, and it would be great for a reluctant reader.
DF1A_ChristieR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Walking around New York City was what Mitty Blake did best. He loved the city, and even after 9/11, he always felt safe. Mitty was a carefree guy¿he didn¿t worry about terrorists or blackouts or grades or anything, which is why he was late getting started on his Advanced Bio report.Mitty does feel a little pressure to hand something in¿if he doesn¿t, he¿ll be switched out of Advanced Bio, which would be unfortunate since Olivia¿s in Advanced Bio. 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 old envelope with two scabs in one of the books, the report is no longer about the grade¿it¿s about life and death. His own.It was a surprising book. I liked the ending.
loafhunter13 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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. The book does pull a reader into finishing it so there is appeal. It is certainly not the characters which are underdeveloped and unlikeable. It is not patriotism or action as there is not much. Same for the dialogue. The terrorist characters are comical stereotypes and the book feels more like it is written out of vengeful, ignorant exploitation of 9/11 than anything. The end was particularly a letdown. I don¿t know what makes one go to the end but that characteristic, however appealing, can¿t save this book.
ewyatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mitty is a bit of a slacker. He is not really interested in school, but he is oddly transformed at times by his fascination with his infectious disease project and even his exploration on Beowulf - once he finally gets around to reading it. He finds an envelope marked 1902 and in it some small pox scabs. As he dives more deeply into his research, he wonders if he has gotten infected by breathing in the scabs. He doesn't tell anyone for a long time. After posting a message on the Internet, suddenly everyone is looking for Mitty - the FBI, CDC, and even some terrorist seeming types. I found this novel to be a bit pedantic. It hits you over the head with its American patriotism and admiration for American heroes. Although it definitely kept me turning the pages, I thought the novel tried to do too much, and I don't know if I believed the ability of Mitty to get out of the situation he found himself in at the end of the book.
hoganedix on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was so taken in with this one. It instantly grabs your attention and teaches you more than you would ever want to know about small pox! Excellent recommendation for 7th grade and up.
59Square on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended by Julia, and it is definitely creepy. Mitty Blake finds an envelope full of smallpox scabs and unwittingly exposes himself to smallpox. Then it is a race against time to find out as much as he can about smallpox to learn whether or not he has the disease, and whether he is exposing the whole world to an epidemic. Even though he is only a high school student, his girlfriend Olivia is smart and a good researcher, so they research this thoroughly - on the grounds of writing a paper. I thought the creepiness came from the possibilities that this could happen, and the bioterrorism aspects of what happens to Mitty. Definitely suspenseful and it made my skin crawl.
NevilShute on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Drags in a few places, but fascinating information. It must have bogged down, because I skipped to the end and then came back to fill in the blanks.
parkridgeya on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While conducting research for a high school biology report on smallpox, a teenaged boy finds an envelope containing 100-year-old smallpox scabs and fears that he has infected himself and all of New York City.
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