10 August 2011

The Eleventh Plague; Jeff Hirsch

The Eleventh PlagueThe Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

What a pleasure to read a post-apocalyptic book that doesn't have the type of life-controlling government that I've read in recent books. This version of the future is more Ship Breaker than Delirious and will be perfect for middle grade boys.

We open in the near future, after the Chinese have used germ warfare to unleash P11 (the eleventh plague) on the United States. Hundreds of thousands have died, political structures have broken down and those physical structures that remain are in complete disrepair. Stephen, his father and his grandfather make their living traveling from North to South and back again, scavenging/salvaging scraps to sell for food, clothes, bullets, etc.. The day after the grandfather dies, they find a broken plane - stripped, but shelter during a storm. Slavers also take refuge in the wreck, and Dad decides to free the slaves.

In their escape from the slavers, Dad is badly injured when he falls down a ravine into a river; Stephen tries to save him by pulling him into a cave. While there, a group from a nearby settlement finds them and takes them in. There, Stephen finds a stable community with a doctor, baseball and school. Will he be able to stay? Is this the future, or is it a last gasp at the past?

The issues of how we respond to pandemics, what society is and how people will survive will provoke thought; the focus on a male protagonist will appeal to boys.

ARC provided by publisher.

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