6 Rated Books Book Reviews Giveaways

Book Review & Giveaway: The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

Title: The Eleventh Plague

Author: Jeff Hirsch

Genre: Speculative Fiction, Horror, Post-Apocalypse/Dystopia, Young Adult

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 2011
Hardcover: 288 pages

The wars that followed The Collapse nearly destroyed civilization. Now, twenty years later, the world is faced with a choice—rebuild what was or make something new.

Stephen Quinn, a quiet and dutiful fifteen-year-old scavenger, travels Post-Collapse America with his Dad and stern ex-Marine Grandfather. They travel light. They keep to themselves. Nothing ever changes. But when his Grandfather passes suddenly and Stephen and his Dad decide to risk it all to save the lives of two strangers, Stephen’s life is turned upside down. With his father terribly injured, Stephen is left alone to make his own choices for the first time.

Stephen’s choices lead him to Settler’s Landing, a lost slice of the Pre-Collapse world where he encounters a seemingly benign world of barbecues, baseball games and days spent in a one-room schoolhouse. Distrustful of such tranquility, Stephen quickly falls in with Jenny Tan, the beautiful town outcast. As his relationship with Jenny grows it brings him into violent conflict with the leaders of Settler’s Landing who are determined to remake the world they grew up in, no matter what the cost.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone novel (although ostensibly could be the first in a series)

How did I get this book: ARC from the Publisher

Why did I read this book: I’m on one of my dystopian/post-apocalyptic kicks! READERS BEWARE! (Seriously though, the premise of this book, while familiar, sounded pretty good. Plus, Suzanne Collins blurb on the cover. Um, yes.)


When P-11, a souped up version of influenza concocted and weaponized by the Chinese government, was unleashed on North America, global society had already long been in the process of collapse. After the nukes the United States unleashed, after the economic meltdown, and constant atmosphere of fear and distrust, the plague was just another symptom of a sick, dying world. Stephen has never known the world pre-collapse; his whole life he has salvaged and kept to the rigid structured rules set by his ex-Marine Grandfather and his father. The rules are simple and absolute: there is no straying from the established path. No approaching other people. Always think of the future, salvage, and survive. When his Grandfather dies, Stephen and his father are left without the old man’s constant rule-making, and for the first time, Stephen’s father decides to deviate from the old man’s path, daring to intervene and save a woman and child from a group of “slavers”. The rescue goes horribly wrong though, and Stephen’s father is gravely injured in the process. Desperate for some kind of help, Stephen scrambles for supplies and aid, and stumbles across a group of survivors – some of whom offer to help Stephen and his father.

Following the new group to their settlement, Stephen sees a world he could hardly have imagined. These survivors have built themselves a town with actual houses, beds, food and water. They play baseball and go to school. They still sing the national anthem and have Thanksgiving. Stephen is an alien to this strange new world and struggles to fit in while his father recovers – but while everything looks happy on the outside, he knows that like everyone everywhere else, these people are still ruled by fear. Some settlers inherently distrust outsiders like Stephen and think he’s a spy – and then when trouble really comes on the heels of a harmless prank, Stephen must decide what kind of life he wants, and what he’s willing to fight for.

I read a great review for this book that compared The Eleventh Plague to the (sadly canceled) TV show Jericho – and now having read the book, I can completely agree with that comparison. Well, kind of a Jericho meets Survivors (a British television show that was pretty awesome). Post-apocalypse novels are a dime a dozen and are growing increasingly prevalent in the YA world, but I feel like many of them are set in the distant post-collapse future, or have an SF or supernatural influence. The Eleventh Plague differentiates itself because it is actually very grounded and disturbingly familiar. In this apocalyptic landscape, there hasn’t been a zombie infection or the eruption of a supervolcano – there has been a war and the release of a biologically engineered superflu, but for the most part, society’s collapse has been nudged along as an extrapolation of tensions that currently exist in our social, political and economic landscape. In other words, The Eleventh Plague isn’t too much of a stretch – which is, in my opinion, the book’s greatest strength. Jeff Hirsch creates a terse, bleak environment that is believable because it is so understated.

Because of this, however, there is less of a plot or action-driven focus for the novel, and The Eleventh Plague is much more of a character piece, following Stephen as he navigates a world without the constant berating presence of his Grandfather, and trying to keep his father (and himself) alive. He goes through a crisis of hope in the book as he struggles with the rules that his grandfather so strictly enforced and the bleakness of survival on the road, separate from anyone else, and the new life he finds in the settlement. While it is Stephen’s internal struggle that characterizes the novel, the standout character that steals the book (for me at least) is Julie – an abandoned Chinese baby that was rescued by one of the settlement families, but has to deal with the constant jibes and bigotry of others because of her appearance and ethnicity.Julie is an explosive character, prone to acting without thinking which brings trouble – but she’s also raw and emotional, and her struggles to fit in with her adopted family and the town is wonderfully portrayed.

On the negative side, the book, though slim, does falter and drag once Stephen starts to adjust to life off the road, and overall is a little underwhelming. There isn’t much that truly happens, and while the protagonists are well detailed, other characters feel two-dimensional – more like vehicles to get across a Point (about Hope and Life and America and the Evil of War and the Importance of Literature). While I agree that all of these are worthy messages, it felt ham-handed and obvious, which detracted from my reading experience.

These criticisms said, though, I still enjoyed this quiet and insular story about a version of the end of the world, and how people rebuild in the face of disaster. It’s not quite as crazy fun or detailed as Jericho (or as dark as Survivors), but it’s a fine, contained novel in and of itself. Recommended for those looking for a more subtle type of post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel.

Notable Quotes/Parts: You can read the first 14 chapters online HERE, or you can also download a free sample for your ereading pleasure! The sampler is available for kindle US, kindle UK, and for EPUB readers (via Kobo).

Rating: 6 – Good

Reading Next: Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby

Giveaway Details:

We have ONE copy of The Eleventh Plague up for grabs! The contest is open to addresses in the US and Canada only, and will run until November 26, 11:59 PM (PST). In order to enter, leave a comment here letting us know which is your favorite post-apocalypse novel/movie/tv show/comic. Good luck!

Buy the Book:

Ebook available for kindle US, nook, google & sony


  • Margaret S.
    November 23, 2011 at 10:45 am

    The Survivors trilogy by Susan Beth Pfeffer, or, if you need one novel then I nominate the first of the trilogy; “Life As We Knew It.”

  • Michelle H
    November 23, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I agree with Margaret! The survivors Trilogy by Susan Beth Pfeffer is disturbingly realistic and beautifully written, my mom started making survival kits right after reading it! haha thanks for the giveaway 🙂

    Happy reading

  • Mary H
    November 23, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    The Books of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau are wonderful.

  • Indigo
    November 23, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I would have to say the Feed series by Mira Grant. A diverse world where the main news stream is blogging. Thanks for the opportunity.

  • Jen Richard
    November 23, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Not sure if it fits the genre but I liked The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd

  • Lexi
    November 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    So hard to choose! The old-school classic A Canticle for Leibowitz? I’ve been loving Lauren DeStefano’s Wither, for YA, of course Hunger Games, I LOVED Gabrielle Zevin’s All These Things I’ve Done, for movies, yikes- I think Children of Men. I could go on for ages but will stop myself here! 🙂 Thanks for the chance!

  • Kevin Sly
    November 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I have not read as many post-apocalyptic novels as I have wanted to. I ran out of time. However my favorite series in this genre has to be The Vampire Earth by E.E. Knight.

  • Allison
    November 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I’m kind of in love with I Am Legend, both the book and the movie

  • Lori Strongin
    November 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    *claps hands that you’re a Jerico fan!* Man, WHY did they have to cancel that RIGHT when all the good stuff was going down??? 🙁

    I’ve been hearing really good things about Eleventh Plague, that it’s not your typical dystopian. Bummer that some of the characters felt a bit flat, but I still think I want to check this one out, at least for the world buidling elements.

    Thanks for the giveaway op!


  • Sarah
    November 23, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    The passage, by Justin Cronin. I can’t wait to read the sequel!

  • scribe kira
    November 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    feed, hunger games, world war z to name a few!=o)

  • Kate
    November 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Hitchhiker’s Guide. It totally counts, the planet’s destroyed at the very start!

    If I’m being serious, I have to say I am Legend, book, not movie, for its examination of what it means to be ‘human’ and ‘monster.’

  • Candice J
    November 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    I love the book Enclave; it had its own type of zombie-like characters. PD James’ The Children of Men was also really good.

    I’ve read great things about The Eleventh Plague, thanks for the giveaway!

  • pscott
    November 23, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    So many good ones out there it is hard to choose. I’m going to have to go with the first one that got me turned onto the sub-genre even if it is a bit dated now. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank.

  • Joan
    November 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Hmmm…it is a hard choice there are so many good movies/books about post apocalypses but I would have to say World War Z.

  • Claire
    November 23, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler and Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi.

  • Audrey M
    November 23, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    I love the Fire-Ustrilogy by Jennifer Armstrong and Nancy Butcher, it was just so different then all of the other books I have read.

  • Ash
    November 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Enclave or The Hunter Games. Both were awesome. 😀

  • Becky
    November 23, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    I am going with my first intro into the genre, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. I watched that movie when I was 8 and I have loved these movies/books/tv shows since!

  • jenn
    November 23, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Post-Apocalyptic… I don’t read much of it, but the trilogy by Susan Beth Pfeffer was wonderful.

  • Emilia W
    November 23, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    I haven’t read enough in this genre, but I do like the Hunger Games.

  • Courtney
    November 23, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    My favorite is The Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan..hands down!

  • Stephanie
    November 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    I also like the Survivors trilogy by Susan Beth Pfeffer.

  • de Pizan
    November 24, 2011 at 12:23 am

    My favorite post-apocalyptic is the movie Testament. Book form would be Emergence by David Palmer.

  • debbie
    November 24, 2011 at 4:44 am

    My favorite is the stand by stephen king, (which they are making into a movie, also).

  • ChrisB
    November 24, 2011 at 6:59 am

    I Am Legend would be my favorite.

  • Julie Witt
    November 24, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Ashfall by Mike Mullins is my favorite!

  • Marie B.
    November 24, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Also the Survivors trilogy by Pfeffer.

  • Nicole
    November 25, 2011 at 11:35 am

    The Hunger Games & Robopocalypse, and that’s just this year!

  • Kristen
    November 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I just finished The Death Cure, the last book in The Maze Runner series and LOVED it, so I think that’s my favorite dystopian series right now. =]

  • Mackenzie
    November 25, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    I really enjoyed zombieland. It was a great comedic twist on post apocalyptic life.

  • Ellaenid
    November 26, 2011 at 12:05 am

    Hands down: Tomorrow When the War Began.

  • Ellaenid
    November 26, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Not exactly post-apocalyptic, but survivor nonetheless.

  • Justine
    November 26, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    The Halo video game series has phenomenal storytelling, believe it or not. I know Halo is not a novel/movie/TV show/comic, but the setting is post-apocalypse.

    @Kristen (November 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm): There’s going to be a book prequel to The Maze Runner. The Kill Order will be published August 14, 2012.

  • Smugglers’ Stash and News | The Book Smugglers
    November 27, 2011 at 2:05 am

    […] BECKY […]

  • Anonymous
    December 18, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Divergent- Veronica Roth

  • Ethin
    March 3, 2012 at 8:48 am

    i think that the eleventh plague is a awsome book. 😀

  • Chuck
    March 15, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    The show Falling Skies is easily the best post-apocalyptic show

  • Anonymous
    May 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  • money
    May 15, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  • money
    May 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm


  • Kat
    June 16, 2012 at 11:50 am

    the movie 2012 was great and it reminded me of this

  • Anonymous
    June 27, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    I like this book!!!! 😕 8)

  • The Eleventh Plague Jeff Hirsch Audiobook Review
    July 19, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    […] Moms – “In the end this was a good read for me”The Book Smugglers – “a terse, bleak environment that is believable because it is so understated”Smash Attack Reads – “All in all, it didn’t deliver the total […]

  • Ramona
    August 27, 2012 at 9:31 am

    I loved the two books from Mary E Pearson about Jenna Fox. The Adoration of Jenna Fox was a dream to listen to also. A combination of post-apocolypse and robot world. The characters were believable and the story moved at a good pace. Exciting to the end!
    My favorite tv program; Terra Nova…sadly I haven’t seen it yet this season. Not enough interaction with the dinosaur population and getting along with the time period, but lots of action,.

  • Anonymous
    August 27, 2012 at 11:58 am

    i love it but i want a toco 😯 😯 😯 😯 😯

  • Book Review: Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch | The Book Smugglers
    October 1, 2012 at 7:48 am

    […] did I read this book: I read and enjoyed Jeff Hirsch’s debut novel, The Eleventh Plague. Thus, when I saw news of this new dystopian SF novel, I was very interested to see how this new […]

  • Jake
    October 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Her name was Jenny, not Julie…..

  • Anonymous
    November 9, 2012 at 7:37 am

    👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿

  • Vicki Murphy
    November 9, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Divergent by Virginia Roth is intriguing. I love how society has decided the fall was due to character flaws and restructured by character values. I’m only half way through… I still have big questions about their society driving my reading as well as following the main character’s problems.

  • amanda
    February 19, 2013 at 2:05 am

    wow i love how detailed u are with ur reviews . i dont let them decide wether in going to read the book. but they help decide what order to read them. i fall in love with alot of the books just from ur point of veiw. i also love ur honesty. and even thou im way to late i would have to say the book 1985 is one of my favs

  • :)
    February 20, 2013 at 11:37 pm


  • Skye
    February 20, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    I <3 Micheal!!!!!

  • Steve
    February 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm


  • Shanana
    February 25, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    This book sucks SHITTT

  • bitch nigga says
    February 25, 2013 at 2:03 pm


  • :)258926
    February 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    I say ass u say donkey

  • Xalan
    March 6, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    I love this book. I’ve only read the first few chapters though. ????????????????????????????

  • ryan
    May 13, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    this book is queer as fuck

  • Anonymous
    August 20, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I don’t understand the book

  • Ellie
    November 12, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Good review, but it’s Jenny not Julie.

  • Boop
    December 4, 2013 at 7:38 pm


  • Anonymous
    December 30, 2013 at 5:00 pm


  • Anonymous
    December 30, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    duh what

  • juice lee
    December 30, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    what is a book

  • Anonymous
    February 11, 2014 at 7:10 pm


  • Anonymous
    May 20, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Ehhhhhhhhhh no……

  • Anonymous
    September 9, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    love the book

  • Preston Knotts
    October 6, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    I think it would be the walking dead the comics and the show

  • Not a Bookworm
    October 12, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Another book by Hirsch, called “The Darkest Path” is great!

  • Mason paun
    December 7, 2016 at 9:01 am

    My favorite post apocalyptic novel is war day takes place 5 years after. A nuclear war with russia

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