The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch


Lovers of dystopian fiction will want to read Jeff Hirsch’s The Eleventh Plague.

Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn lives the life of a salvager after a biological war left most Americans dead. His family is among the few survivors. When his grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen makes his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems almost untouched by the war. There Stephen meets Jenny, a complex girl who refuses to accept things as they are. When they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, they find themselves in the middle of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing and their lives forever.

Ever since reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the Lil Diva (11) has been on a dystopian fiction kick. It’s not my favorite genre, but it definitely is one filled with raw emotions. During last year’s summer reading program at the library, pre-teens and teens got a chance to pick free paperbacks as prizes. That’s how we got our hands on The Eleventh Plague.

After the collapse, meaning after a nation unleashed a deadly virus on the United States, survivors ended up in certain roles. Some, like Stephen Quinn’s family, were salvagers. Others became slavers or mercenaries. Stephen has only known life as a salvager, but all that changes after his grandfather dies and his father slips into a coma after a fall. Found by scouts from Settler’s Landing, Stephen and his father are brought to this almost ideal community where a woman doctor cares for Stephen’s father and Stephen attempts to adjust to life as a kid going to school and playing baseball. Then he meets Jenny. He doesn’t know what that girl’s deal is, but she certainly isn’t happy about the life she’s living. As they grow closer, Stephen is torn between a commitment to caring for his father, going to school, and his attraction to Jenny.

While I will never be a fan of this genre, I must admit Hirsch put together a can’t put down story that begs to be read. This book drips angst. The only life Stephen has ever known is tossed into chaos. He’s not welcome by everyone at Settler’s Landing and he has trouble fitting in. And to watch the results of an innocent prank unfold into something Jenny and Stephen could never have imagined is totally heartbreaking.

If I had to level any criticism of the book it would be that the epilogue went on too long. Even if a book is the most satisfying one you ever read, I don’t know many people who enjoy an epilogue that is nearly twenty pages long.

My girls at 11 and 9 are a bit too young for the book, but they often read more advanced material. Parents should be forewarned for pre-teens that there are a few kissing scenes and Stephen talks about how Jenny feels against his body or his reaction to her kisses.

Superb story, excellent ending, and definitely a winner if you enjoy this genre.

Rating:   🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Reading level: Ages 12 and up

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0545290147
ISBN-13: 978-0545290142

We received a free copy of this paperback from our local library. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.

From the Family Bookshelf – February




Welcome to the February edition of From the Family Bookshelf. But first of all, Happy Valentine’s Day! Every year we celebrate this holiday dedicated to love. If you’re interested in learning more about the legend of St. Valentine, you can visit

I’ll start off with my recent reading. The first quarter of 2013 looks like it will be filled with tons of books. I overloaded my review schedule, so I’m playing catch up. Trying to broaden my horizons, I’ve read an eclectic mix of books over the past month:

Rennefarre by Malve von Hassell, an English translation of the German children’s classic by Tamara Ramsey,

Iconic Spirits by Mark Spivak, a book that celebrates twelve spirits that changed our world and ushered in a new cocktail culture, and

Pandora’s Temple by Jon Land, an exciting thriller that plays “what if” with an ancient legend.

I’m currently in the middle of Executive Command by Gary Grossman. I’ve read the other two novels in this political thriller series. I’m sure I’ll enjoy this one.

Poor Dad is working so much lately, it’s rare he has time to read. Hopefully that will change soon.

As I mentioned last month, I am reading The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch with the Lil Diva (11) and the Lil Princess (9). It’s slightly too old for them. There’s some kissing going on and they are still at the “kissing is yucky” stage, but overall it’s a fascinating story. The conflict is going to be ramped up now and could end in a disastrous way, so I’m eager to keep going.

After we finished reading the latest Dork Diaries book, we moved on to  Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney. The girls loved it. I was rather cool on it. Greg Heffley never changes. He never learns anything. He’s pretty much just a self-centered boy. Not unrealistic, but annoying to me anyway. Now we are reading Emma Dilemma, the Nanny, and the Wedding by Patricia Hermes. We’ve all enjoyed it so far. Emma and her brother Tim are nervous and less than enthusiastic about their nanny, Annie, getting married. Changes aren’t easy for them, which I think is true of many kids. We’re reviewing this for the Amazon Vine program.

I am also excited to say that Circle of Secrets author Kimberley Griffiths Little has a new book coming out in April, When the Butterflies Came. It can be pre-ordered at Amazon. She will be sending the girls and I an ARC of this book to review. We’re very excited, as we absolutely loved Circle of Secrets. 

That’s it from our neck of the woods. Hope you’ve read some great books this past month.