Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

I'm trying to see this book through my students' eyes. It's an easy read. The world in which it's based- a post-apoloypctic world trying to recover after a particularly deadly strain of the flu has ravaged North America and possibly the rest of the world- is interesting and thought-provoking. It has many topics they can relate to, like love, being a teenager, and family. And that's about where it stops.

To me, this book was incredibly underwhelming. The post-apocolyptic backdrop is a guise. If it had taken place in a modern-day, plague free society, the story would have been the same. From the point of view of the protagonist, umm.... I can't even remember his name and I just finished this book- the scope of this book is so narrow that it becomes about him and his annoying girlfriend rather than about society as a whole. Still, Hirsch wastes no time in making his message hit-you-over-the-head-and-leave-no-room-for-interpretation clear. The "moral of the story" was incredibly too obvious for me, and I found myself rolling my eyes at every turn. I also found myself sighing loudly at myself for still reading the book.

To sum up The Eleventh Plague, I would say it's a compilation of cliches wrapped inside post-apocolyptic packaging. Boring.

2 Stars

Sex 0/5
Language 0/5
Violence 2/5
There is some war, some death. But it's not described in enough detail (nothing in this book is) that it would be something to be concerned about.
Substance Abuse 3/5
There is a scene of underage drinking. That's another thing that bothered me. Not the underage drinking, but the fact that the author didn't even address the possibility of the kids getting in trouble, or mention why one of the kids was able to be carried home stumbling drunk without worry about what the parents think. It was a non-issue, and was completely unrealistic. It seemed to just be plugged into the book for shock factor, but was done in a way that was completely uninteresting.

Touchy Subjects

Sort of. I think it's odd that the people who let the plague loose are Chinese, and that Chinese people are the enemy. This would have been fine if there had been some sort of explanation. Nope. Chinese people are the enemy. That's all. What?
Death of parents
Again, it's present, but not done in enough depth that I think it would bother any kid who may have had a similar experience


  1. I have this book sitting on shelf. I bought it when I met the author and even got it signed. But now I'm super scared of reading the book because of the negative reviews. How can I knowingly go into a bad read?? Thanks for the review! Most helpful one yet!

    1. Sharmin,
      Thanks for reading! My suggestion would be to just go ahead and read the book anyway. I have actually seen some positive reviews, so others had a much better experience than I. Honestly, I do think this could be a good read for young adults who may be struggling readers and need the backdrop of a post-apocolyptic world in order to become interested in the first place. It lends itself well to some good messages (I just thought they were way too obvious). The worst case scenario is that you read it and don't like it- but you won't have wasted too much time because it's such a quick read anyway.

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