Reviewed by Jodi Horsley

The Eleventh Plague is Jeff Hirsch’s debut novel. This Dystopian tale follows the saga of fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn who grows up in a new America following a devastating war with China. A virulent strain of the flu, the eleventh plague, wipes out two-thirds of the population. Stephen Quinn and his family are among the few survivors and must roam the country in search of material to trade. All the while, they must constantly work to evade capture by the Slavers: mercenaries who seek to sell their captives to the highest bidder.

After Stephen’s grandfather dies and an accident puts his dad into a coma, a hesitant Stephen is taken in by a group that may be his only hope in helping his father. He is taken to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems to be too good to be true, with schools, harvest feasts, and all the kids. Also, he is surprised to see a Chinese girl living there since the war with China. Her name is Jenny.

Jenny is an outcast in the community because of her ethnicity and Stephen connects with her – feeling like an outcast himself. They play a prank that goes very wrong and gets the settlers planning to attack another community. Now they have to try to protect Settler’s Landing before the slavers kill everyone and burn it to the ground.

I am a huge fan of The Hunger Games trilogy and it left me very intrigued to read another post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel. Jeff Hirsch did not disappoint. He is amazingly vivid in his description of the earth’s destruction, the mounds of graves and the gaunt starving people. The scary thing is how – unlike The Hunger Games – realistic this story is. This could happen.

I love The Eleventh Plague and how it ties in optimism, family, friends and strength along with a country that has fallen apart. Some other great qualities are the interesting characters, the plot and the settings.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Jodi lives in the western suburbs of Illinois with her husband, her elementary school daughter, and preschool boy/girl twins. She is an avid reader and loves losing herself in a good book. She has a Master’s in Information Technology and has been a WAHM mom for 4 years now.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Scholastic Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.