The Eleventh Plague

>> Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Author: Jeff Hirsch
Recommended Age: Young Adult
Publisher: Scholastic Press
ISBN-10: 0545290147
ISBN-13: 978-0545290142
Year Published: 2011
No. Pages: 279
Genre: Science Fiction/ Dystopian Fiction
Main Character Gender: Male
Read & Reviewed by: R.J.

This novel is about a teenager named Stephen and his father trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic America. Twenty years have passed since the Collapse, a war with China, and a sickness called the Eleventh Plague or P11 has erupted leaving two thirds of the population dead as a result.

Stephen and his father travel the land scavenging for food and goods that they can trade to get things they need. One day, they risk their lives to save those of two strangers and Stephen's life is turned on its head. Stephen's father is terribly injured leaving Stephen to make his own decisions for himself for the first time. Stephen normally follows his father around and does whatever he is told. Stephen's choices lead him to Settler's Landing which is similar to the world pre-collapse. Unsure of his surroundings, he falls in love with Jenny Tan, the town's outcast. Jenny is of Chinese decent and unjustly blamed for the war, the plague and its aftermath. Soon Stephen finds himself in conflict with the people that took him in. Will his beliefs cost him his life?

Hirsch's first novel, The Eleventh Plague, is written in first person. First person narrative really let me into Stephen's head and let me know what he was thinking and feeling. The novel was written in such detail, that when Stephen got angry, I felt his anger too. First person narrative has the advantage to personalize a story for a reader and this what Hirsch accomplished.

The Eleventh Plague is a great novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also thought it was easy to read and understand. Hirsch, did an excellent job making this apocalyptic world believable. China is often in political conflict with other countries and many people believe it will be the next super power. Hirsch's choice of China as an enemy is subsequently, realistic. If this situation did happen in real life, I would like to have the same knowledge and skills of survival that Hirsch gave Stephen in the novel.

Most chapters Hirsch wrote ended in cliffhangers. This added to the suspense which kept me turning the pages and wanting to read more. The desire to know Stephen's fate and the realistic possibility of this novel, easily hooked me in this read. I rated this novel a ten out of ten and recommend it to those eleven years and older or to anyone who enjoys reading suspense, survival and dystopian fiction novels.

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