Review: The Eleventh Plague (Jeff Hirsch)

Product Details
Reading Level: YA
Pages: 288
Publisher: Scholastic (September 1, 2011)

The Eleventh PlagueThe wars that followed The Collapse nearly destroyed civilization. Now, twenty years later, the world is faced with a choice—rebuild what was or make something new.

Stephen Quinn, a quiet and dutiful fifteen-year-old scavenger, travels Post-Collapse America with his Dad and stern ex-Marine Grandfather. They travel light. They keep to themselves. Nothing ever changes. But when his Grandfather passes suddenly and Stephen and his Dad decide to risk it all to save the lives of two strangers, Stephen's life is turned upside down. With his father terribly injured, Stephen is left alone to make his own choices for the first time.

Stephen’s choices lead him to Settler's Landing, a lost slice of the Pre-Collapse world where he encounters a seemingly benign world of barbecues, baseball games and days spent in a one-room schoolhouse. Distrustful of such tranquility, Stephen quickly falls in with Jenny Tan, the beautiful town outcast. As his relationship with Jenny grows it brings him into violent conflict with the leaders of Settler's Landing who are determined to remake the world they grew up in, no matter what the cost.


I do love a good, thought provoking novel. When I picked up The Eleventh Plague, I thought it was going to be a zombie novel.  I mentally prepared myself for rotting flesh and gore. Apparently, I misread the synopsis, or else read it when I hadn’t had my morning cup of coffee. This is NOT a zombie book. It is, however, an incredible read.

I knew this was going to be a great book after I finished reading the first page. Jeff Hirsch has a writing style that is unique and refreshing. He’s not a writer; he’s a story teller. His use of descriptive language is amazing. Look how he described his grandfather’s hand, “…it was a desert plain, the tracks of the veins like dry riverbeds winding up the crags of his knuckles.” Talk about descriptive! The whole book is filled with these images that are more than mere words on a page. His words truly paint images in your mind as you read. It’s been a long time since I read something that had that effect on me.

Now, if the title doesn’t offer you a clue, please don’t think this is a cutesy-fluffy read. It’s not. It’s disturbing and down right haunting at times. Could you imagine the world as we know it after a biological warfare attack that left 2/3 of the population dead? What if America (and democracy) as we know it was a distant memory? Or, the military suddenly went from an entity designed to protect to a force of evil? Doesn’t exactly make you think of rainbows and kittens, does it? The thought provoking nature of this book was great! I can’t even begin to talk about it, because it would ruin the book. Someone needs to read this so I can talk about it! This book deserves to be discussed. As a matter of fact, I would love to see it juxtaposed alongside Lord of the Flies. (Yeah, it’s that good.) Man, the discussions that would follow!

So, obviously the plot is incredible, but that’s not the only great thing hidden between these covers. The characters are great. All of them. Even the ones you despise. Everyone is layered and brutally honest (to an extent). Within this small village of Settler’s Landing, you encounter every type of human emotion and the darkest (and best) natures of mankind. Steven and Jenny are complicated. You’re never really sure what’s going with them. It’s obvious there is an attraction between the two, but it’s not just physical. (It’s not very physical at all.) There is a connection. Maybe it’s because they are two outsiders that make the members of this small community nervous. Or maybe, it’s because they are the catalyst for the inevitable change that will come. Every stereotype and fear of the community is illuminated in the eyes of Steven and Jenny. It’s major.

I really hate that I can’t talk about this one in any detail! There are SO many things going on in this book that it deserves to be discussed. If you like Lord of the Flies (I adore it) then you will like this book. I guaranty it. There were moments when I was reading The Eleventh Plague that I was thinking about poor Piggy. But most importantly, Jack’s final thoughts (while he was waiting to be rescued) about his experience on the island and the evil that lurks in the hearts of man resound in this book as well. It’s moving and thought provoking. Actually, it’s downright scary because I can imagine it really happening. Read the book and you’ll see what I mean. People are ugly by nature, and this book shows how vile we can really be. 



Bookish Brunette said... .

Yay!!! Seriously, I bought this forever ago when I heard Jonathan Maberry recommend it on Twitter! I'm soooo glad you liked it too! It's been so long since I read Lord of the Flies... Now I want to do a reread! Lol

October 10, 2011 at 8:23 AM
flashlight_reader said... .

You need to read it. It's really good. Very thought provoking.

October 10, 2011 at 6:51 PM

Is this a series or is this a single book? It sounds really interesting. I'm so curious as to what happens to the dad and how far exactly the town is willing to go to get Leave it to Beaver and why the girl is an outcast. Hmm, so tempted. But if you saw my IMM this week you'd know I cannot buy another book right now! We'll have to discuss this one another time.


October 10, 2011 at 9:15 PM
flashlight_reader said... .

It's a stand alone book. The twists and turns... ah! If you want to read it, I'll send it to you. Otherwise, it's going to my friend's CR in Georgia. I have no where to put it now. =(

If you like Lord of the Flies, you would LOVE this book.

October 11, 2011 at 8:36 AM
C. Merced said... .

I finished this book on Sunday. It was pretty damn good. I agree with your opinion of the narrative, it is excellent. Great description and language.

Spoiler time***
Now....I wish we had another standalone story (or maybe with Jenny, left it open at the end there) about what is going on in the West. Or, how the military became slavers. I see a lot of tangential story lines coming out of the books. The woman and kid? The Krycek's. Oh sooo much.

Spoilers End***

My review should be forthcoming...when I get to it....

October 11, 2011 at 5:10 PM

Oh, Flashlight, I just saw your comment. Send it to your friend. It would be six months at least before I'd get to it. I'm doing NaNoWriMo next month so I have to get a bunch of reviews lined up and I stupidly signed up for a bunch of book tours next month forgetting about NaNo.

October 17, 2011 at 10:51 PM

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