Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Eleventh Plague, by Jeff Hirsch

Barnes & Noble

In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

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. 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. 

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--and their lives--forever.

This is a freaky-ass story. It's not your normal Zombie/Dystopian fiction: a sickness that could wipe out 90% of the population doesn't seem so far-fetched in the face of Anthrax, SARS, or even the flu.

The scary part? Surviving it all. Living in a world where it's every man--or group of men--for himself. Where you could be killed or captured as a slave if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time. Where you spend the rest of your life picking through debris in hopes of finding something worth enough money to buy food.

That, my friends, scares the bajeezus out of me.

So when fifteen-year-old Steven finds a home--a real house!--in Settler's Landing, I was able to relax a bit. He makes friends, helps around the town, and falls in like with Jenny. She's totally kick-ass and a great match for Steven, and I really liked their relationship.

Naturally, a shit-storm has to ruin dear Steven's happiness, and it's a doozy. I was definitely caught off guard.

It's hard to wrap-up a dystopian novel without leaving the reader depressed; Hirsch did a good job of keeping it realistic and true to the story.

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