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The Eleventh Plague

The Eleventh Plague

4.0 183
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 in search of


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. 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. 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--and their lives--forever.

Editorial Reviews

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
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.)
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

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)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sold by:
Scholastic, Inc.
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File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

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Meet the Author

Jeff Hirsch graduated from the University of California, San Diego, with an MFA in Dramatic Writing, and is the USA TODAY bestselling author of THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE and MAGISTERIUM. He lives in Beacon, New York, with his wife. Visit him online at www.jeff-hirsch.com.

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The Eleventh Plague 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 183 reviews.
FuzzyCoffeeBooks More than 1 year ago
What I Liked: 1) Stephen. Stephen has had to face a lot in his life and as a result, he's become very strong, but also very wary and untrusting. But what I really liked was watching him slowly change over the course of the book, learning what he was really looking for, and starting to trust the new people in his life. 2) Jenny. Honestly, I wasn't sure about this girl for a while. She was kind of closed off, a little like Stephen, so it was hard to get to know her at first. But then I learned a bit more about her and started to understand a bit more about why she was...the way she was, I guess would be the best way to say it. She's a major influence on Stephen, and changes the outcome of the story. 3) Emotional turmoil. I can always tell a book is really good when I experience a range of emotion while reading. There were tears, happiness, satisfaction, a lot of different emotions that all went into this book. 4) At the end of the book, you have to realize that there was this message that no matter what happens, people try to rebuild and reclaim the life that they always want. Among the many things to take away from this book, I think that was my favorite. What I Didn't Like: Do you remember when you first learned to drive a car? Was there a lot of stopping and starting as you got used to the amount of pressure needed to brake or drive? I felt like there was a little bit of that going on with The Eleventh Plague. Not stopping and starting, but hurry up and slow down. In future books by Jeff Hirsch, I'd hope to see a more even pace for the book. Overall thoughts: The Eleventh Plague is a great debut with some very real characters, and a plot line that will keep you guessing. If you are a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction without the dystopian slant that so many seem to have these days, add The Eleventh Plague to your TBR list!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i saw the book after i read the hunger game series and i thoought I need a book to read so I read it and it was amazing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great from the start. I am certain you will like this book. Get it now.
Johnny_the_great More than 1 year ago
This book is good because it has a lot of action. The 11th Plague takes place in a post apocalypse united states, so if you like fallout this book is good for you. The boy in the book goes through a lot, and he never dies. The only bad part about it is the end and that it stays in one place. This book has a lot of shooting in it, people shoot each other in this book, that’s one of the big reasons why it’s good. The plague in it comes from china, there was a big war, so china sent over a plague, and that’s why people who like fallout will like this book. The boy Steven loses his grandpa at the beginning, but that’s on the first three pages. Later in the book something big happens with his dad. The end of the book could have been better. What I didn’t like is that most of the book takes place in one town, it’s post apocalypse united states, why would you only stay in one place. Some books stay in one place, but that’s because there better that way. If I was writing a book like this, I would make it many places. This book does have a good bit of choice words. If it’s the apocalypse you’re going to search for stuff, but they only do that once. My favorite part is when they go to the plane, but overall this is a good book. I do recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd say that if you enjoyed the Hunger Games you would greatly enjoy this book. It had me captivated from the beginning.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I will begin by being totally honest: I bought this book because of the Susanne Collins' blurb on the front. This distopian story is one that boys would especially enjoy. I thought the ending was clever. All around good, quick read.
lovepassionbooks More than 1 year ago
This was my very first audio book that I made it a hundred percent through. I have tried many others, but I just couldn’t get into the ones. But then about a month ago a girl that I follow on Twitter tweeted about a website that was giving away free audio books during the summer months. So I was like well why not… And boy am I glad that I gave it a chance. This is probably one the best books to get you into listening to audiobooks. You meet Stephen and he is living the life that we all thought would never happen. The would have practically ended and they don’t know where there next meal is coming from. I think that would be the worst thing about living in a world like this. I know some people right now are living like this, but I could not be able to live like this. But then he is forced to live in a settlement that is trying to make their lives like the lives that they once knew. They go to school, hang out with friends, and even play baseball. You would think they had it made. But then reality strikes and life is back where they knew it would, The Eleventh Plague. Please do yourself a favor. Go and get this audiobook. It was so awesome. The narrator did a great job with the whole story. I truly loved every minute of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was decent book, but it was simple and lacked finesse both in writing style and plot. I would have been happier if I had only paid $5 for a book of this quality.
Ree_Anderson More than 1 year ago
Oh, the promises made in the synopsis. I was so full of hope. I mean, it says, right there - "the world is faced with a choice..." THE WORLD, people. Of course we know that Stephen Quinn is going to be the main man. Of course we know that "the world" isn't going to be a character in this book. But really, shouldn't we get some kind of feeling like "the world" is involved? Instead, we're trapped in this tiny little settlement filled with tiny minds Now, that said, I do like that Mr. Hirsch explores some tough themes - racism, for one. I like the idea of his world. (But...what plague? It didn't feel very plague-like.) I like where the author was headed, but he just didn't manage to pull it off with any sort of finesse. Also, while I think Stephen could have been a well rounded character, I truly did not understand some of his choices. I can't really say which of them utterly blew me away without spoiling the entire book, but one or two really made my eyes bug out and my brows go up and I had to shake my head and mutter "Huh? What?" a few times. I really, really wanted to love this. I feel like the lack of world building (there was SOME, not a lot) and the choppy prose combined with a severe lack of detail and information made this one feel a little flat to me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Introduction The theme of the “Eleventh Plague” is don’t stay in one place for too long. The author’s purpose is to show what is like to survive from day to day. This was a great book. Description and summary of content This book is about a boy and his father surviving a post-apocalyptic world that a disease has destroyed. His dad and he are scavengers: people that scavenge what they can to survive. Evaluation This is the best book that I have ever read. I don’t really read that much but this book really changed my look on books. It is always exciting and you won’t want to put it down. Conclusion I recommend this book to anybody. Have fun and enjoy reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you're resding this book for non-stop action, you might be saddened. This book is somewhat of a laid back novel, kind of like To Kill a Mockingbird, only more exciting. But it has that sweet home kind of feeling that TKAM had. But I found myself wanting this book to never end, which I never really felt in anyother kind of book. You get in touch with the characters in a way you never really thought. Jeff did great job of writing this novel. He makes you fight and cheer for the characters and I loved that. I suggest this book for anyone looking for a gripping story. His other books are extremly good as well. I thibk the Darkest Path (which I'm currently reading) will be my favorite of his. Please read this novel! He deserves more praise than he already has. He should be a more popular author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has a good story but the writng is terrible.compared to.ather books. As another person said, it seems like the author was in a hurry to write it. It gets confusing sometimes and loses interest easiy. If you are lookig for a goid book, i reccomend "Enders Game". Dont get this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great! Full of acting, supence , and a little romance. Great book with a intresting plot and well decripted characters. Set in the future and really makes you think about the world today
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book it is an awsome book i would read this book twice or more
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It wasnt a bad story. In fact, it was great. I wouldnt recommend it to people who want a fast paced book because this book is one of those that some big things happen a few times in the book but not a lot in every chapter. Sometimes youl go about five chapters before something exciting happenes but then all of a sudden something exciting happens. Thank you for reading.!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and it reminded me alot of the fallout games. Great read , i highly recommend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my faves. The name might make you think its about zombies or something like that. Still I love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i meet the author and i didnt really intend to a buy a book but glad i did ! it was a very well told story i enjoyed it all the wat through. good job jeff!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
hello i am 13 years old and me and my friends have bought this book from our school's book fair. It was a great book afterall. It started off great. The first sentence was interesting and catchy. It made you think. I love this book so far and i am only on chapter 9. i cannot wait to finish and give my whole overview. if we are young and liking this book it is wonderful. i give props to jeff. this is awesome.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was amazing soo cool and it is full of advanture with a mix of horrer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi if you are are hot boy 11 to 12 call me i live in new york new york and my name is lidia i prefer baseball players i have fresh freckles and blond hair and to most beautiful eyes in the state i am so fab that you already know me and my tots popular hottness so you dont even need my number half the boys in the world already have it but i am picky and need a new boyfriend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago