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Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

Publication Date: 9-1-2011
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: RAK

Goodreads 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.

This novel is a 2011 debut by Hirsch.  I was really excited to get this off of my wishlist because it's dystopian and I'm kind of hooked on the genre right now.  Honestly, those are my favorite types of books to read at the moment.  I'm not sure why, but I've moved past the paranormal/supernatural on to the post-apocolyptic and such.

Hirch's novel starts where America has seemingly left off. The US has collapsed after being attacked by the Chinese.  A plague has taken out most of the country, and the people who are left are trying to survive in these terrible times.  Finding food and shelter is almost impossible, and staying away from the slave drivers is essential.  Stephen is traveling with his Grandfather and Father when his Grandfather passes away.  Then, his father is hurt and Stephen is basically left to make decisions on his own.  His decisions lead him to a society which he never expected to exist after the collapse.  

I fell in love with this book from the beginning.  I couldn't put it down.  Hirsch's writing made this new world come alive.  It was as if I was living this world with Stephen.  I felt his emotions and wanted him so badly to find his way.

Stephen as a character is very mature for his age.  He has been through so many tough times that he doesn't have high expectations, and ultimately believes he will die.  His ideas change when he meets Jenny and falls hard for her.  He realizes what he can do to make this a better place to live in overall.  Stephen is a great character who has grown throughout the book and shown us that teenagers can make decisions that are good for the entire society, as well as showing us how badly they can mess up.  Of course, at any age you can make mistakes, but Stephen has made plenty during the time frame contained in this novel.

I can't wait to read another one of Hirsch's novels and I hope he has plenty in the works.  I think anyone interested in the dystopian genre of YA books would enjoy picking this one up to read.  I'm glad I added it to my collection.

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