Saturday, September 24, 2011

"The Eleventh Plague" by Jeff Hirsch

“In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade for food and other items essential for survival. 
But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true, where there are real houses, barbecues, a school, and even baseball games. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing forever.”-goodreads

Hehehe. So, I had a misconception (I have no idea why I thought this, actually, look up there it even says influenza) that “The Eleventh Plague” was about zombies. As in, zombies being the eleventh plague. Yeah. It’s not, FYI. However, I went into the book expecting zombies and didn’t get them, but wasn’t disappointed. (Books don’t have to have zombies to be good for the record. It’s just a bonus.)  Instead of a zombie smashing book I found a book about life after “the Collapse” (which I assume is the collapse of humanity-- a culmination of wars with other countries and the plague, but that’s not explained specifically), a book about survival, and ultimately, for me: a book about hope and community, and its necessity even after a disaster. Even if the world is technically already ‘over’ if you will. Even though the book wasn’t overly emotional these were the impressions it gave me.

Stephen is a nomad at the beginning of the book; both in the moving around all the time literal sense of the word, and to me, emotionally. He’s only close to his grandfather (if you can call what we see of their relationship that) and his father, and he used to be close to his mother before she met her end. That’s the other thing: this book is kind of about loss. Overcoming loss and finding that hope and community. Throughout the book Stephen has to figure everything out. That’s probably why I liked him so much a main character-- he didn’t know everything, not even close. He had a ton of flaws. Sometimes flaws (kind of like I was talking about in my Anna and the French Kiss review) can make the book if they’re done right. This is one of those books, I think.

Additionally, there quite a bit of action and when necessary, creepiness. There was romance that I didn’t expect (I basically thought she was going to continue ignoring him completely) with a troubled girl who really identified with Stephen. The ending was great because it wasn’t completely picture perfect-- also, it left me wanting more without being a total cliffhanger and infuriating me. I believe there’s a sequel or companion novel coming though this novel could easily stand-alone, I look forward to more of the story!

1 comment:

LoriStrongin said...

I'd been reading about this book around the blogosphere, but this is the first review that actually makes me want to read it. Like you, I thought this was just another generic zombie novel, so I'm kinda glad to hear it's not. And I loved realistically flawed characters, so I definitely think I'll be adding this to my TBR pile. Thanks for the rec!


Smiles!
Lori