The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: young adult
Release date: 09/01/11
The Eleventh Plague is the debut novel of Jeff Hirsh. It’s a dystopian story that follows the saga of fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn. He’s growing up in a new America—what the country has become after a devastating war with China. A virulent stain of the flu—the eleventh plague, wipes out two thirds of the country. Now, the survivors have to forge a new path and make their way in the new world, a world that can be desolate, cold and brutal. Stephen, his father and grandfather scrap by as salvagers, but when the grandfather dies, Stephen’s dad decides to free himself from granddad’s iron-clad influence. It’s a risk he’s willing to take and the consequences change his life and Stephens’s beyond anything they could have imagined.
We’ve all heard the old cliché “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but the cover of The Eleventh Plague immediately captures one’s attention. It’s atmospheric and connotes a world gone wrong, bad. It begs to be opened and the contents within, explored. In the opening pages, the writing is stark and direct, sparse. There is a blunt sensibility to the characters that made me question if they were likable. Would these be characters one could relate to? The answer is a resounding yes.
The author draws one in to take the journey along side Stephen. You are there sharing the emptiness, fear, dread, surprise, the new discoveries and yes, the hope. It is a fact that many boys are reluctant readers. The Eleventh Plague may be one of the answers to that problem. It’s a young adult novel, but it also has a middle grade sensibility that is sure to captivate younger readers as well.
This is a stand-alone novel, but the premise and ending certainly leave room for a continuation if the author wished to pursue it. His next work—whatever that may be—is eagerly awaited.