Book Review: The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE by Jeff Hirsch Book Review
Publication Date: September 1st 2011 by Scholastic Press
Rating: |

Book Summary: The 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.

Book Review Overview:

  • Great concept but the story itself was not engaging
  • Wish that the character Jenny was developed even more
  • It was an okay read

What’s refreshing about THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE is that it’s short and it’s a standalone. With the amount of dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels currently in the YA market, I was so glad to have picked up one that wasn’t 400 pages in length. Debut author Jeff Hirsch creates a captivating and realistic depiction of post-apocalyptic United States. The back-story of THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE is the one of the novel’s strengths. After a misunderstanding involving backpacking college students, the United States became suddenly involved in a war with China that led to disease and warfare. THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE by Jeff Hirsch picks up twenty years later just after the death of the protagonist’s grandfather.

THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE was a pretty quick read, but I couldn’t find myself sucked into the story. I absolutely loved the back-story and the concept of the novel, but I didn’t feel that engaged in the story. While reading, I felt like I could have stopped any time and walked away without suffering from Reader’s Guilt. I really enjoyed the concept of THE ELEVENTH PLAUGE by Jeff Hirsch, but I didn’t enjoy the way the story turned out. I felt like I lost the majority of my interest when Stephen got to Settler’s Landing.

I think that my problem was that I was more interested in problems that Hirsch raised but never actually came around to developing. At first it was interesting to see how a society had developed from from a war-torn country, but I quickly lost interest and felt like nothing was really happening. I liked how Hirsch introduced the Chinese character, Jenny, but I don’t like how the reader never really learned anything about what happened to China or that Jenny never really understood her background. I feel like Hirsch brought up the subject of race, but merely skimmed upon the surface of the topic. I think Jenny’s character had so much more potential, but instead she was just this overly rebellious teenager who liked to blow things up and get into fights.

I guess I’m disappointed that I didn’t like THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE by Jeff Hirsch as much as I thought I would, especially because it was blurbed by Suzanne Collins. I didn’t hate THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE, but I didn’t love it either. After finishing it up, I just felt apathetic about it as a whole. It was just a book read to pass the time during the hurricane but not necessarily for enjoyment.

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About the Author

Jeff Hirsch lives in an extremely Brazilian section of an extremely Greek neighborhood—Astoria, Queens, which is just to the right of Manhattan. (That’s as you face Manhattan. If you were, say, lying on your back in the middle of Central Park with your head in a northerly position, he would be to your left) He lives there with his wife who has a blog and our two cats who do not. One day Hirsch hopes to have a very large dog that he can name Jerry Lee Lewis.

Find the Author

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  1. That sucks that you really didn’t like it. It bothers me that you said it didn’t engage you. Why? I just bought it and will probably be reading it soon. Now I’m worried.

    1. For me, it was missing that extra factor. I enjoyed reading the story, but I didn’t feel like a part of the story. I felt detached from the novel as a whole and it really didn’t strike any emotions in me to be really invested in the story. Does that make any sense?

  2. I’ve been curious about this one because of the Collins blurb… It’s too bad that it was only okay. I’ll probably check it out eventually but it’ll definitely be a while before I get to it.

    1. I think that coming into this book, I had an expectation that the writing would just be as great as Collins’s because she blurbed it. It was good overall, but not great.

    1. LOL! :P

      And also, THANKS for mentioning that. To be honest, it’s quite a pain in the butt to do so I’m really glad someone appreciates it. Haha.

  3. Ahhh, I started reading this before I left but never really had that urge to finish it for the past few weeks :p I get what you mean by the detached feeling as of now. I’m wondering, do you think SC blurbed it b/c it was pubbed from Scholastic like THG?

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