Code Orange (novel)

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Code Orange
Author Caroline B. Cooney
Country United States
Language English
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
ISBN 0385732597

Code Orange is a young adult novel by Caroline B. Cooney. The novel won a National Science Teachers Association recommendation.[1]


Mitchell "Mitty" Blake is a teenage boy who lives in New York City with his parents. He is carefree and does not worry much about his grades or school. When his biology teacher Mr. Lynch assigns him to write a report about an infectious disease, Mitty has no idea what virus to research. His friend Derek has chosen the topic of anthrax while his crush Olivia has chosen typhoid. Derek talks about the anthrax constantly and the studious Olivia tries to help Mitty with his research. During a trip to his family's home in the Connecticut countryside that the Blakes always visit every weekend, Mitty finds some old medical books from Boston in 1902. What he discovers in the book changes his life forever.

Inside the book, Mitty finds an old envelope containing scabs from Variola major (a severe form of smallpox) from an epidemic in 1902. He inhales dust from one of the scabs which have crumbled as he handles them without him knowing it and later believes that he has lost one of the scabs that he was going to use as part of his project to improve his grade. Mitty begins to think that he has acquired smallpox and is developing symptoms. He posts questions online about smallpox, unwittingly attracting the attention of people who want to take advantage of the disease.

After he attempts suicide to make sure he doesn't start the smallpox epidemic all over again, Mitty is kidnapped by terrorists who want the precious scabs to infect the United States. Mitty manages to escape his captors and learns that he does not have smallpox, though he is still hospitalized for the injuries inflicted on him by his kidnappers. At the end of the book it is implied that Mitty and his close friend Olivia will get together and be a couple.


  1. ^ "NSTA Recommends: Code Orange". National Science Teachers Association. Retrieved 19 March 2013.