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The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch
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The Eleventh Plague (edition 2011)

by Jeff Hirsch

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SmplexlyRee's review
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. ( )
  SmplexlyRee | Mar 9, 2012 |
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Showing 1-25 of 41 (next | show all)
The Earth is destroyed after the war. Steven, his father and Grandfather are making a living at scavenging and selling what they can find. Soon Steve is on his own after his Grandfather dies and his father has fallen into a river hitting his head and becoming unconscious. What will become of Steven now? ( )
  ThePageturners | Mar 29, 2014 |
No you die hard fans of the zombie apocalypse, this is not that kind of book. The eleventh plague is something much more, a journey and experience into raw human emotion and how our species reacts when we go from living, to surviving. Showing that when we no longer become to the top of the food chain, we react in not the most calmest of ways. As many of my other reviews, just a heads up, this is a mature book, so don't expect a happy go lucky story and zany characters.

It's been a while since I actually read this book, and for good reason. It's not the easiest of books to explain without getting offtrack. The story is the stereotypical "humans being infected by unknown virus", but manages to stand out for not being based around zombies, but rather the possibility of a real virus that could kill humans. The story is dark, as well as enthralling. It's dark mood is clearly shown at the beginning of the book, and makes no attempts to hide it. The characters are much better then the story and setting, as they range from main hero, to main badass female, to supportive role models, to that one annoying friend we all enjoy reading about. They develop over the course of the book, and experience the horrors of the world. As this being a mature and dark book, characters will die off so don't try to have optimistic thoughts while reading, because they will be crushed...Several times.

The Eleventh Plague is one of the many popular apocalypse books coming out in recent years, but stands out in my mind for its great cast of characters, interesting story and an unapologetic view of our world. Also, it isn't about zombies, so that's a win win. For many nerds today, this book scenario would be a dream come true, to the world, their worst nightmare.
  br14kabu | Mar 5, 2014 |
I loved this book! Yes, it is another book about the apocalypse. No, it is not like all those other books.

This is a story about Stephen, a boy who loses his family and finds a family and town willing to take him in. Most everyone is accepting of him (with the exception of a few - you always have to have a conflict) and this teaches him to trust again. The book talks a lot about standing up for what you believe in and helping others.

A great read with a good message and a positive ending. ( )
  WiseYoungFools | Feb 12, 2014 |
Wasn’t exactly the survival story I thought it would be
  butterkidsmom | Jan 18, 2014 |
when a prank goes wrong, chaos erupts. now the main characters, two kids named jenny and Stephan find themselves in the middle of a war just before the freezing cold winter. will they survive? can they even survive?
I think this book was very good. I would recommend it because it is full of action, intensity a little bit of love. This book also has a great story. This was an excellent book especially for Jeff Hirchs first. ( )
  br14copi | Nov 8, 2013 |
It took a very long time for me to get into this book. I actually stopped reading for a while because I wasn't interested in the beginning. It's very hard for me to get into a book if the story takes 100 pages to get started. It was just overall an unintentionally slow book, even though it was less than 300 pages.

However, once the story did get started, I did really enjoy The Eleventh Plague. It was a book that, to me, seemed in the realm of possibility in the future, whereas something like The Hunger Games had some pretty unreal aspects. It was a bit reminiscent of Jeanne DuPrau's The People of Sparks, which was one of my favorite books when I was younger. Still, this book wasn't as good. Yes, I enjoyed the plot line, but I'm not really sure it's worth the time it takes for the story to get set up and on with. ( )
  lizziewrites | Sep 20, 2013 |
The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch was just an ok YA dystopian read with little character development and a rather boring backdrop for the characters to work with. The book is set in a decimated future where Americans dropped bombs on China who then retaliated with germ warfare, which they called the eleventh plague One thing that really bothers me with this and many other dystopian books is that everyone appears to suddenly go dumb, they forget how to bring any modern day comforts back, and they all seem content to live like early day pioneers. Stephen and his family have been getting by as wandering scavengers.

When they have a run in with slavers and his father is badly injured, they are taken in by a small town called Settler’s Landing. In this place of relative safety Stephen learns what it is like to have a home. He has been raised to distrust strangers, but in very little time he is attending school, making friends and playing baseball. The family that has taken him in have a history of helping strays and a young Chinese girl, Jenny, has also been raised by them. Jenny is a rebel and all she wants to do is leave town and see what’s out there. Jenny and Stephen become instantly attached at the hip and they make plans to leave the town together. Of course the slavers eventually find the town, and Stephen and Jenny stay to help, but in the end Jenny still wants to go and Stephen wants to stay.

I didn’t get interested in the book enough to check and see if future issues are planned, For me this one book was enough. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | May 22, 2013 |
Dystopian novel. Characters were just "OK"; situations seemed repetitive and decision-making by the characters somewhat lackluster. ( )
  nandrews | Apr 4, 2013 |
I'm marking this as finished, even though my audiobook file was missing the last 15 minutes of the book. I am on the waiting list at the Chicago Public Library for the audio CD version, perhaps the last 15 minutes will be interesting enough for me to raise this up a star? I doubt it, but I'm going to hold out the possibility. ( )
  pidgeon92 | Apr 1, 2013 |
I really enjoyed this book. I found it to be quite a realistic look at what may happen years after the breakdown of society. It's told from a teenager's point of view and the voice stays true to that teenager.

I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys post apocalyptic fiction. ( )
  ShannaRedwind | Mar 31, 2013 |
Stephen is a scavenger, traveling the post-Collapse landscape with his dad and ex-Marine grandfather. His father and grandfather have never seen eye-to-eye about how to survive, with his father preferring to help others whenever possible and his grandfather erring toward isolation. But now his grandfather is dead, and Stephen and his dad are making their own way. An effort to help a family captured by slavers ultimately results in a tragic accident, leaving Stephen to decide if he's more like his father or grandfather. Stephen's decisions bring him to a small town, a seemingly-bucolic village of pre-Collapse life. Stephen's experience in the outside world makes him distrustful of such a peaceful existence, and he's barely spent any time in Settler's Landing before he's planning for his departure. When a juvenile prank incites a war, Stephen's decisions are no longer just his own: anything he does will affect an entire community, and determine whether they'll continue to live in their slice of the past, or move forward in creating a new world.

Okay, so the Collapse: something about China executing, or detaining (don't remember) two Americans, which started a conflict that grew into a war; the US launched some nukes at China and China unleashed biological weapons, specifically a particularly nasty strain of flu, P11H3. P11, or the Eleventh Plague, killed millions of people, and with all those people dead all kinds of services (hospitals, schools, power stations, etc) shut down and more people died. The end result: the collapse of civilization and a TON of anti-Chinese racism.

Obvious similarities to The Road, at least in Part 1. Other readalikes: Restoring Harmony, for joining up with a new community? The Chaos Walking series, for joining new communities and having all that pesky war-mongering going on?

7th-10th grade appeal; maybe a little older for students who want their post-apocalyptic wars somewhat clean and sanitized. And WTH was up with that romance, like "oh hey you're a GIRL so I LOVE YOU NOW EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE A JERK TO EVERYONE LET'S MAKE OUT"?

( )
  librarybrandy | Mar 31, 2013 |
After a war with China, the United States has been almost totally destroyed. Two-thirds of the population were killed by a plague released by the enemy. Fifteen year old, Quinn, was born after "the collapse" to two survivors of the war. His family has become salvagers to survive. They salvage items and trade them at a survivor colony. The one rule is to always keep moving to avoid slaver traders, who would capture them for profit. When an accident forces Quinn and his father to rely on a group of survivors who have built their own village, Quinn begins to undestand that there are more important things in life than just surviving. He begins to make friends, but he also accidentally brings danger to the group.

I liked the book, but I did have a little trouble getting into it at first. I think that there were some parts that were a little slow. It could be that I have read too many of these apocalyptic survival stories lately and this one just didn't measure up to some of the other ones I've read recently. Still, it was an interesting story, and a good book. It was recommended to me by a student who loved it, so maybe it was just me ( )
  BunaHSLibrary | Jan 31, 2013 |
The world of the Eleventh Plague is a long way from my comfortable office and this blog. Life has become something completely different. China and the United States went to war over some hikers in the wrong place at the wrong time. We bombed China and they retaliated with a virus that wiped out the population of the US and maybe Canada and Mexico. As the cover shows, the United States is now a rusting hulk of what we were.

But, families still exist. There is still a need for warmth, food, shelter and...

This is the world that Steve lives in - has always lived in. He was born after P11 (the Eleventh Plague) hit. His life is that of a salvager roaming the Eastern part of US with his grandfather and father. As the book begins, they are burying Grandpa. Although Grandpa is dead, his voice and his presence looms large over Steve and his dad. Grandpa believed that the only way to survive was to stay away from everyone, believe no one and keep moving. Steve has only known this philosophy. There is no warm fuzzy connection with others - the only way someone would help you is for a price.

Then Steve and his dad have a run in with a pair of slavers and everything that Steve has ever known is turned on it's head. When his dad is injured in a fall and is befriended by Marcus and Jackson and taken to Settler's Landing - the voice of grandpa is challenged by real friendship. Steve sees the inside of a house for the first time, learns what a school is and what others are willing to give up for a friend.

Although this book is another in the long line of "the world is a horrible place and only teenagers get it" genre. I really liked this one. It felt a bit different. The problems were all personal - there was not a secret agenda or a mysterious technical problem to solve. Instead - it was all about a young boy and the baggage created by a past image of the world and the issues of facing new experiences. There is a little love interest - a bully - some explosions and death. I liked it!
  kebets | Dec 28, 2012 |
Hirsch's debut young adolescent dystopia was engaging enough to keep me reading until the end, but isn't memorable. The beginning of the novel was interesting as the main character, Stephen Quinn and his father salvage for things to trade after the collapse. I was anticipating the back story, but was a bit disappointed with how slowly the details of the end of the world as we know it take place. Around page 200 the plot seems to pick up again but then seems to drag through the epilogue. Not a fan. ( )
  speedy74 | Oct 20, 2012 |
The Good Stuff

Realistically dark and intense yet has a hopeful message within
Has a bit of The Road/The Stand feeling to it
Stephen is an intriguing character, you often understand his actions even if you don't agree with them
This is a good story for those boys who really just don't enjoy reading - fast paced, intense and violent (nothing too graphic though)
Doesn't drag too much which was perfect for my state of mind while reading
Unpredictable
Nice to see some light moments amidst the darkness
Teens that act like teens - not like mini adults - refreshing
For reluctant readers the little glimpses of back story are fabulous (I wanted a bit more, but I think these types of books are brilliant for engaging kids who dislike reading)
Realistic post-apocalyptic setting - very believable

The Not So Good Stuff

I really didn't like Jenny -- found her unpleasant and selfish
Did I mention how much I disliked Jenny - Stephen could do so much better
Favorite Quotes/Passages

" When I was in med school," she explained. "one of my teachers told me that my only job was to treat the patient in front of me. He said I couldn't change the world, I could just treat what's in front of me."

"Grandpa had told me a hundred times that life wasn't fair and that expecting it to be was for fools.'

"Because there was a time when people helped each other," she said. '"And that made the world a little bit better. Not perfect, but better. We'd like to think we can have that time back."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read

Perfect for the reluctant reader
A fab story for classroom discussion

4 Dewey's

I received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review ( )
  mountie9 | Sep 26, 2012 |
I'm a sucker for books about what happens after the break-down of society. Steven has been wandering the country steeped in a "trust no one" environment, but when his life is suddenly changed, he begins to discover what it means to have friends, to be responsible to someone else, and to be courageous. The story moves along well and I liked Steven and I enjoyed watching him learn to see the world through different eyes. I also thought the disaster/post disaster scenario was very believable. ( )
  tjsjohanna | Aug 30, 2012 |
It is good to see a young male protagonist in a young adult fiction novel. I was beginning to wonder if they existed.

Stephen Quinn, 15, and his father are living in a post apocalyptic world which was devastated by an unknown plague. They travel around the country as salvagers who trade their wares to stay alive. However, their luck has run out and they stumble upon some slavers which leads to a horrible injury to Stephen’s dad. Lost and alone Stephen has to rely on strangers (something his grandfather said to never do) to help him get a handle on his life.

See my complete review at The Eclectic Review ( )
  sherton | Aug 6, 2012 |
I did not expect to like this book but did, mostly because of the characters. Born in the dystopia resulting from the release of a weaponized strain of flu, 15 year old Stephen Quinn follows his father and grandfather on their scavenging route through the wasteland. The book starts with the death of Stephen’s grandfather a domineering ex-Marine who believed strict rules and routines are necessary for the family’s survival. Shortly after his death Stephen’s father is injured and slips into a coma. Searching for help Stephen is shocked to encounter settlers who have established a community that strives to return to their pre-apocalyptic lives. There he attends school, learns baseball, and makes friends. A prank gone too far has devastating results. The Eleventh Plague lends itself to interesting lessons about unintended consequences and responsibility. This book would appeal to readers in high school but is probably not appropriate for younger readers. The ending left me hoping for a sequel. ( )
  rwilliamson | Jul 5, 2012 |
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. ( )
  lacikcrawford | Jun 28, 2012 |
I felt myself wanting the story to end up in an entirely different way. That's not the fault of the author or the writing, but it left me feeling slightly unsatisfied all the same. I don't know if there are plans for a sequel (the book ends in a way that make a sequel unnecessary) but I wouldn't mind if another book came out. Perhaps that would provide the closure that I feel I lacked. ( )
  MBels | May 27, 2012 |
Ages 12 and up.
Stephen Quinn is 15 and knows nothing of the world before the collaspe except what his father and grandfather have told him. And now his grandfather is dead andafter a clash with slavers his Dad lies in a coma at Settler's Landing. As Stephen discovers Settler's Landing is a true town something that hasn't exited since the collaspe.
Easy to read and a good book to recommend for people who like the Hunger Games ( )
  lprybylo | Apr 6, 2012 |
America is nearly destroyed after a strain of influenza called the eleventh plague deciamtes the country. Hundreds of millions of people die and civilization collaspes in the aftermath of the plague.

15-year old stephen quinn is one of the children born after the eleventh plague. Stephen, his grandfather, and father live their lives as salvager, people who roam areas of the country collecting any items leftover that still may have a use and trading them. After his grandfather dies and his father is injured and falls into a coma after a run-in with slavers, Stephen is left on his own to try to keep him and his father alive. A group of people accidentally stumble upon him and his father and offer to take them to a place that can offer them help, called Settler's Landing.

When Stephen arrives in Settler's Landing he is astonished by the atmosphere there, it is almost as if the people there were never touched by the aftermath of the Eleveth plague:schools are still open, thanksgiving is celebrated, and the people are friendly.

But Stephen soon finds out that all is not perfect in the apaprent paradise of Settler's landing, when he meets Jenny, the misfit,who delights in breaking the rules, starting fights, and getting into trouble. When Stephen and Jenny play a prank that has terrible consequences they must try to fix their mistake before, Settler's Lannding and a Rival Town erupt into all out war.

Elventh Plague is an excellent post-apocalyptical book. It examines how even when America has changed so drastically, old predjudices are retained in the minds of many. At times, especially, during the beginning of the book the pacing is rather slow, and towards the ending it is slightly rushed. Also,the book would have benefited from greater exposition, a broad picture of what America is like is painted for the reader but, more details are needed. Currently there are no plans for a sequel and although the Eleventh plague nicely wraps up Jenny and Stephen's stories, there is still plenty of material left to write about these two charcters and the world they live in.

Age Group: mature 14 year-olds and up

Content: References to slavers taking people and selling them, references to teen and adult characters drinking alcoholic beverages, references to several charcters being injured, curse words bi..., a teen gets drunk, a graphic recount of a mass shooting.

Disclaimer: This book was obtained from YA book central in a giveaway. ( )
  1722sjm | Mar 22, 2012 |
I didn't finish this book. I got about 70% and stopped. I kept picking it up and hoping it'd finally pick up...I gave it that far to do something and it just never happened (70%!). I wasn't interested in at all. It didn't engage me or make me feel anything. It was just really boring, and I really don't like any of the characters. I don't like how ungrateful Stephen is/was towards the Greens. I didn't understand what he "felt" for Jenny. I wish there were more of Stephen's grandpa. I think if this had more of a connection with the grandpa, then him dying instead of starting off with him dying...I dunno! I'm just glad I won a copy of this and didn't waste my money.**I skimmed the rest of it and wow. I'm pretty glad I stopped where I did. That was the most disappointing..is it possible to be more disappointed? ( )
  KaliSkittles | Mar 17, 2012 |
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. ( )
  SmplexlyRee | Mar 9, 2012 |
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. Summary from BPL

The Eleventh Plague imagines for us the aftermath of a successfully deployed biological weapon. Lack of communication, isolation, deprivation—all those “ation” words—make for a grim dystopia. Typically overpowered by first his grandfather,then his father, Stephen presents as an obedient, cowed teenager trying to survive by following orders. The reader watches as tragic events force Stephen to grow up.
Short on detail, The Eleventh Plague can be simplistic at times, good versus evil portrayed by stock characters. I think if the editor had drawn the author out more the novel would have benefited lots. The story itself is interesting but incomplete.

7 out of 10 Definitely on the young side of Young Adult. ( )
  julie10reads | Jan 25, 2012 |
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