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Friday, August 17, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

This is a thought provoking dystopian tale with YA characters but good for adult listening too.
by Jeff Hirsch (Author), Dan Bittner (Narrator)

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 7 hours and 3 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Scholastic Audio
  • Release Date: September 1, 2011
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005KFQPQ8
Genre: Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic
My Rating:  4.25 of 5.0

Publisher's Summary
In the aftermath of a war, America's landscape has been ravaged and two-thirds of the population left dead from influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived. But when Stephen's grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma, Stephen finds his way to Settler's Landing, a community that seems too good to be true. There he meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny. When they play a prank on the town bully's family that goes horribly wrong, they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler's Landing forever.

This story tells of terrible danger, loneliness, prejudice, fear and ends with a message of hope.
Fifteen year old Stephen and his family survived the war that devastated America. Somehow they also survived ‘the eleventh plague’ that killed two-thirds of the population. The life that Stephen knows has been harsh. He has learned to follow his strict and demanding grandfather’s rules or suffer for disobedience. His sweet, kind mother died in childbirth, and Stephen, his father and grandfather have lived as scavengers. They are constantly traveling to find what they can to trade and along the way they have to avoid towns where their might be illness and avoid being picked up by slavers. Stephen’s father might occasionally long to settle down but it would mean a risk from the routine that has been drilled into them.

Stephen’s grandfather dies and Stephen and his father struggle on. In a break of discipline, his father intervenes to help others break away from slavers.  As Stephen and his father then try to escape his father is injured and falls into a coma. Although fearful of strangers, Stephen has little choice but to accept their help. He follows them to a small community which is unlike anything Stephen has known.  The people share their burdens, their bounty and their skills.  The families live in homes and the young people even attend school.

It is hard for Stephen to adjust and fit in especially since the primary community leader’s son has taken a dislike to him and claims he is a spy for another community up the road.  The bully and his friends taunt and harass Stephen every chance they get hoping Stephen will be thrown out of the community. Stephen slowly warms to the family that has taken him in. The son befriends him as a brother and Stephen is intrigued by their adopted Asian daughter, Jenny. She too is looked upon with suspicion by many in the community so she holds herself as an outcast.

As Jenny and Stephen are drawn to one another they tend to get into trouble. This puts the family at risk and eventually triggers a confrontation with the neighboring community.  When the slavers show up to enter the fray the people have to decide how they are going to defend themselves. Even more importantly, how are they going to treat each other as they move into the future?

I enjoyed the plausible struggles and traumas portrayed in this story. The pacing is good and the characters’ diversity gives room for thought. Although the narrator did a good job of presenting different voices I felt at times that he lacked some extra ‘umph’ or spark that could have given greater life to the story.  All in all though I recommend this as solidly engaging and a good listen.

I received this as a free download as part of Audiofile Sync YA 2012  Summer Program. That is a great program that pairs a new audiobook with a classic of similar tone to encourage young people to read/listen to the classics as well as new authors.
I'm not quite sure where the community is located... mid south I think. I will add it to my New Author, Audio and Post-Apocalyptic Challenge lists.


  1. Hi Martha,

    Kathy at Inspired Kathy (I'm a Reader...) emailed and said that you would like a copy of my book, God Loves You, -Chester Blue, to review. I would be happy to send you your choice of an ebook or a paperback, just let me know your choice! I look forward to sharing my book. Thank you!!!

  2. This is the book that Audiobook Sync wouldn't let me download because I wasn't in the US or some such excuse :( It would have been nice to get to listen to this book...


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