BOOK REVIEWS

The Eleventh Plague Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-05-29 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 234 user ratings
ISBN:0545290155
LANGUAGE:English

" Korrektül megírt világvége sztori, de semmi extra. " said.

"Originally Reviewed on The Book Smugglers

When P-11, a souped up version of influenza concocted and weaponized by the Chinese government, was unleashed on North America, global society had already long been in the process of collapse. After the nukes the United States unleashed, after the economic meltdown, and constant atmosphere of fear and distrust, the plague was just another symptom of a sick, dying world. Stephen has never known the world pre-collapse; his whole life he has salvaged and kept to the rigid structured rules set by his ex-Marine Grandfather and his father. The rules are simple and absolute: there is no straying from the established path. No approaching other people. Always think of the future, salvage, and survive. When his Grandfather dies, Stephen and his father are left without the old man's constant rule-making, and for the first time, Stephen's father decides to deviate from the old man's path, daring to intervene and save a woman and child from a group of "slavers". The rescue goes horribly wrong though, and Stephen's father is gravely injured in the process. Desperate for some kind of help, Stephen scrambles for supplies and aid, and stumbles across a group of survivors - some of whom offer to help Stephen and his father.

Following the new group to their settlement, Stephen sees a world he could hardly have imagined. These survivors have built themselves a town with actual houses, beds, food and water. They play baseball and go to school. They still sing the national anthem and have Thanksgiving. Stephen is an alien to this strange new world and struggles to fit in while his father recovers - but while everything looks happy on the outside, he knows that like everyone everywhere else, these people are still ruled by fear. Some settlers inherently distrust outsiders like Stephen and think he's a spy - and then when trouble really comes on the heels of a harmless prank, Stephen must decide what kind of life he wants, and what he's willing to fight for.

I read a great review for this book that compared The Eleventh Plague to the (sadly canceled) TV show Jericho - and now having read the book, I can completely agree with that comparison. Well, kind of a Jericho meets Survivors (a British television show that was pretty awesome). Post-apocalypse novels are a dime a dozen and are growing increasingly prevalent in the YA world, but I feel like many of them are set in the distant post-collapse future, or have an SF or supernatural influence. The Eleventh Plague differentiates itself because it is actually very grounded and disturbingly familiar. In this apocalyptic landscape, there hasn't been a zombie infection or the eruption of a supervolcano - there has been a war and the release of a biologically engineered superflu, but for the most part, society's collapse has been nudged along as an extrapolation of tensions that currently exist in our social, political and economic landscape. In other words, The Eleventh Plague isn't too much of a stretch - which is, in my opinion, the book's greatest strength. Jeff Hirsch creates a terse, bleak environment that is believable because it is so understated.

Because of this, however, there is less of a plot or action-driven focus for the novel, and The Eleventh Plague is much more of a character piece, following Stephen as he navigates a world without the constant berating presence of his Grandfather, and trying to keep his father (and himself) alive. He goes through a crisis of hope in the book as he struggles with the rules that his grandfather so strictly enforced and the bleakness of survival on the road, separate from anyone else, and the new life he finds in the settlement. While it is Stephen's internal struggle that characterizes the novel, the standout character that steals the book (for me at least) is Julie - an abandoned Chinese baby that was rescued by one of the settlement families, but has to deal with the constant jibes and bigotry of others because of her appearance and ethnicity.Julie is an explosive character, prone to acting without thinking which brings trouble - but she's also raw and emotional, and her struggles to fit in with her adopted family and the town is wonderfully portrayed.

On the negative side, the book, though slim, does falter and drag once Stephen starts to adjust to life off the road, and overall is a little underwhelming. There isn't much that truly happens, and while the protagonists are well detailed, other characters feel two-dimensional - more like vehicles to get across a Point (about Hope and Life and America and the Evil of War and the Importance of Literature). While I agree that all of these are worthy messages, it felt ham-handed and obvious, which detracted from my reading experience.

These criticisms said, though, I still enjoyed this quiet and insular story about a version of the end of the world, and how people rebuild in the face of disaster. It's not quite as crazy fun or detailed as Jericho (or as dark as Survivors), but it's a fine, contained novel in and of itself. Recommended for those looking for a more subtle type of post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel.
" said.

" Honestly, I like hear more about how the apocalypse happened but it was mostly about his life. " said.

" This book is great for anyone who loves horror stories. The book is about a plague that sweeps across America and kills almost everyone. The book also has many fights. For example, the most intense fight is when the town of Settlers Landing and the Henrys have a battle. The book also has many sad moments. A very sad moment in the book is when the main character’s dad dies. I would give this book a 10 out of 10 because I love books that are action-packed. " said.

"***SPOILER ALERT***

I did not enjoy this book. It was boring and slow and the characters acted like they were 5 years old in the sense that they never really thought about or grasped their situation. It had the potential to be a great dystopian novel, but it just wasn't.
Stephen and his dad are alone after his grandfather dies from the plague. Then, guess what? His father dies, too. Stephen then meets a rebel girl whom everybody dislikes and of course has to fall in love with her, and then, of course they have to do something stupid and end up as social outcasts, because that is just what happens in a book as predictable as this one. I would not recommend this book.
" said.

"Enjoyed this book so much. It ranks high up there with any of the dystopia/end of the world because of a virus or zombies books. This one did not have zombies featured, instead a virus known as P11(Eleventh Plague) took most of the worlds population with the exception of a few as you usually see in these stories.

You see things from a teenager's point of view, in this book. Through his trails, losing his family, learning how to live without them in this harsh and cruel world. Who to trust, who not, when to act, when not ect..From being born into this world, and trying to survive along with his father, to becoming a father himself.
I highly recommend this for anyone! Teens and adults will love this one.
" said.

"Stephen Quinn has grown up in a post-apocalyptic United States. The U.S. has been ravaged by war with China, a plague and the systemic fall of society as we know it. The military has turned to human trafficking and slavery, human decency is at an all time low and there is no one to trust but yourself. Stephen has just lost his grandfather, and his father has fallen down and is gravely injured. It is up to Stephen to keep his father and himself safe and try to find shelter. Then he meets people that have form a town and he must decide whether he can trust them and be the hero they need or go back to being the scavenger he and his father are.

It’s impossible not to compare this book to The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Both books are about a father and son in a ravaged land trying to survive. But, whereas The Road is about the father and his relationship and great love for the kid, The Eleventh Plague is about the son, the way he has grown up in this ravaged world and his hope for a semblance of a family and a future.

The book is very good and I read it rather quickly. The narrative was beautiful. Jeff Hirsch is quite talented at writing visual narrative. I could just picture the glint of the gold ring each time Stephen remembered his grandfather hitting him. Hirch also created great and compelling characters. The books goes incredibly fast and before you know it you are done. Although the author does give you a lot of information about the United States, the war, what has been happening, I can’t help but feel it was half formed. I wish we had learned more about the Chinese occupants in the West. There is a lot of potential there. I guess the author could use the character of Jenny to explore that angle.

This books is marked as a young-adult book but everyone will enjoy it. It is very good.
" said.

"In October I attended a This is Teen event because author Maggie Stiefvater was going to be there. Two other authors also participated, and one of them was Jeff Hirsch, author of The Eleventh Plague. Honestly, I decided to read it because The Hunger Games author, Suzanne Collins is quoted on the book jacket as saying, "The Eleventh Plague hits disturbingly close to home...An excellent, taut debut novel."

If you've read The Hungers Games then you know that Collins is no-joke when it comes to the harsh realities of what our world would be like if it was destroyed by disasters of nature and mankind. Based upon my experience with her books, I felt like Hirsch's book would be worth a try. It turns out, Collins was right. While Hirsch's world isn't as disturbing (no televised fights to the death between children), you will find yourself in an America you recognize.

This time, the US has been decimated by a deadly sickness known as "the Eleventh Plague," and the country is a barren wasteland. Following the plague, was "the Collapse" when the government, businesses, hospitals, and the military fell. Our protagonist is a 15-year-old boy, Stephen, who was born after the Collapse. He and his father have just buried Stephen's grandfather, and they are faced with a choice. Stephen's grandfather ran their trio strictly, and the family kept on the move. Others were not to be trusted, and everything was done with one purpose in mind—survival. Eventually, Stephen finds himself in charge of their destiny; and now is when you should go to a library or bookstore and pick this one up.

For those concerned about exposing young readers to graphic elements, I say don't worry. This is far less violent than The Hunger Games series. What amazed me the most was the way this made me think about human nature and the things we regress to and cling to in dire times. I also loved the imagery Hirsch conjured for me with two of my favorite lines from The Eleventh Plague:

"There was nothing at his back but thirty feet of open air and, beyond that, the bared fangs of a raging river."

"I dug my thumbnail into the soft wood at the edges of the table and wondered if it was true, if she really would come back or if there would be a time when that rubber band stretched as far as it could and would snap, releasing her into the world, never to return."


" said.

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