The Eleventh Plague

The Eleventh Plague

4.0 178
by Jeff Hirsch

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In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been

ravaged and two thirds of the population left dead from

a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen

Quinn and his family were among the few that survived

and became salvagers, roaming the country

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In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been

ravaged and two thirds of the population left dead from

a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen

Quinn and his family were among the few that survived

and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of

material to trade for food and other items essential for

survival. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his

father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds

his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too

good to be true, where there are real houses, barbecues,

a school, and even baseball games. Then Stephen meets

strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to

accept things as they are. And when they play a prank

that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing forever.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Although it relies on some increasingly common dystopian tropes, Hirsch's debut novel is an impressive story with strong characters. A generation after China released a weaponized plague on the U.S., the nation is in ruins, and 15-year-old Stephen wanders the country as a scavenger. Shortly after Stephen's grandfather dies, his father has an accident crossing a river and is incapacitated. Stephen finds himself at the small village of Settler's Landing, where a group of survivors have created an isolated haven of sorts, a far cry from the life Stephen is used to. While there, he meets Jenny, a girl of Chinese descent who is ostracized because of her race. Even as Stephen worries about his father's fate (and his own), he begins to fall for Jenny, and they are both drawn into the horrors of their world, sometimes through their own miscalculated actions. Hirsch delivers a tight, well-crafted story, and although the world-building is light on detail regarding the global cataclysm and its aftermath, most readers will be able to accept the hand-waving and enjoy the action and danger. Ages 12�up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Cara Chancellor
They called it P11, or the Eleventh Plague, the sickness that destroyed America. It started with a war with China, sparked as an excuse over arrested American tourists, but really a struggle for oil and resources. P11 was the Chinese response to American nukes, and it wiped out hundreds of millions across the United States. All that happened before Stephen Quinn was born. He is part of the first post-Collapse generation, a group that has never known electricity, running water, fast food restaurants, or banks. Prior to his grandfather's recent death, his life was that of a scavenger, hunting through ruins for scrap metal, and then trading alongside his father at regional meet-ups. Now he is not sure who, or what, he is. His father is in a coma—injured trying to save a mother and son from the ever-present slavers—and Stephen's only hope of saving him was to follow four travelers back to Settler's Landing, a secret, idyllic community created to mimic the pre-Collapse years. Can Stephen really escape into a life of baseball and schoolbooks? Or will hatred, prejudice, and fear claim as many victims in this new world as they did in the old? Hirsch's book is unflinching in its reality and portrayal of the darker side of human nature. There is something utterly fascinating about a world in which the ruins of fast food golden arches still soar above the skyline, yet mankind is thrust back into an era when childbirth is often deadly, wounds incurable, and slavers and mercenaries rule. Despite its post-apocalyptic storyline—which seems entirely too plausible for comfort—this is a tale of cautious hope that for younger readers could act as a more modern and accessible substitute for classics such as Alas, Babylon. Reviewer: Cara Chancellor
VOYA - Bonnie Kunzel
This debut novel is an excellent addition to the growing body of dystopian novels for teens. The setting is the United States; the time is twenty years after the war with China that decimated the population via a deadly influenza, the plague of the title. The narrator, fifteen-year-old Stephen, and his father are among the small number of survivors. As scavengers, they travel the desolate land, subsisting on whatever they can find that is marketable. An encounter with slavers leaves his father mortally injured and Stephen is forced to accept help from strangers, who take them to their small hidden community. There, for the first time, Stephen encounters school, baseball, and rebellious, daredevil Jenny, who is Chinese, which makes her one of the enemy, or is she? There is the requisite bully but also teens who offer him friendship, and a teacher who shows him that there is more to life than the constant struggle to survive. After one too many fights with the bully, Stephen and Jenny decide to leave, but a final, senseless act of teen rebellion against the bully's father brings their town to the point of war with a neighboring community. Stephen and Jenny get involved when they discover that someone in their community has hired slavers, endangering their friends and neighbors as a result. This riveting novel, with its strong characters and fast-paced narrative, depicts a postapocalyptic future that is all too plausibly real, and the final battle will have teen readers on the edge of their seats as it races toward a satisfying conclusion. Reviewer: Bonnie Kunzel
ALAN Review - Alex Ivey
Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn has grown up in a world without hope. Ravaged by war and disease, America has been transformed into a rugged wasteland filled with desperate, violent criminals. As Stephen and his father struggle to stay alive, they encounter a band of slave traders; in the ensuing tussle, Stephen's father is gravely wounded and Stephen is left to fend for himself. By some stroke of luck, Stephen runs into a group of survivors clinging to remnants of pre-war America. In their seemingly utopian society, Stephen has the opportunity to start afresh. Will Stephen's fear and skepticism prevent him from achieving happiness or will these traits save his life and the lives of everyone around him? Jeff Hirsch paints a chillingly convincing picture of post-apocalyptic life in America. Although the world Stephen fights against seems distant, his struggles—for survival as well as for love and happiness—seem surprisingly real. Reviewer: Alex Ivey
Kirkus Reviews

Hirsch's debut explores the creation of a new civilization out of post-apocalyptic ruin.

Teenage salvager Stephen Quinn has heard stories about what America was like before collapsing due to a war with China and a virulent influenza. His paranoid grandfather keeps their family alive through harsh rules. After Stephen's grandfather dies, Stephen's father abandons their isolationism and is critically injured rescuing captives from slavers. Stephen lets go of his reluctance to trust strangers and accepts help from a scouting party. The scouts' town, Settler's Landing, attempts to recapture an idealized American past, complete with cookouts and baseball games. But Settler's Landing is no utopia, thanks to Caleb Henry, the token rich villain, and his stereotypical bully of a son, Will, who is convinced Stephen's a spy from nearby Fort Leonard. Will's usual target, wild Chinese girl Jenny, bonds with Stephen over their shared outcast status, while her adopted brother Jackson pulls him into youth sports, and teacher Mr. Tuttle encourages his intellectual growth. Stephen and Jenny inadvertently set off a chain of impulsive actions that jeopardize more than just Settler's Landing. Stephen's underlying internal conflict about the clash between social obligations and personal survival ties the first-person narration together and physically manifests in the climax.

At times heavy-handed, but the author's enthusiasm shines through.(Dystopia. 12-17)

From the Publisher


"THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE hits disturbingly close to home, vividly depicting a world that has nose-dived into a futuristic nightmare. . . . An excellent, taut debut novel." --Suzanne Collins, author of THE HUNGER GAMES

" A gripping survival drama." --USA TODAY

"Sure to be a hit among fans of dystopias." --BOOKLIST

"An impressive story with strong characters." --PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

School Library Journal
Gr 6�10—This postapocalyptic tale begins with more excitement than the rest of the book delivers. Steve, 15, was born after the Collapse, and he only knows the nomadic struggle for survival that he and his family have experienced. With his mother and grandfather dead, only he and his father remain. When an act of heroic kindness on his father's part goes horribly wrong, Steve must turn to a group of strangers for help. Much of the rest of the novel deals with his learning to trust the citizens of the small settlement, as well as his burgeoning relationship with Jenny, an angry young woman whose rage is never quite demystified. The characters and action are not as compelling as in the best teen fiction in the genre. This book will likely appeal to younger teens who want in on the postapocalyptic trend, but want to avoid graphic violence.—Hayden Bass, Seattle Public Library, WA

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years


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