Thursday, October 3, 2013

Another Dystopian Novel

Right now I am on a sort of dystopian kick, and there is a lot to feed my interests. So I apologize to those of you who don’t share my fascination with the world ending.

The Eleventh Plague is about Stephen Quinn, fifteen, who has spent his entire life traveling with his father and grandfather around the country, scavenging things to trade as they go. As nomads, they strictly keep to themselves, and never travel the same route twice. But everything is changing for them. As the book opens, Stephen’s grandfather, a stern and angry man, has just died. This leaves Stephen and his father alone.
The world Stephen lives in is about twenty years after the United States has collapsed. This was in large part due to a plague (the Eleventh) introduced to the country during a war with the Chinese. The plague wiped out a huge portion of the population, causing mass chaos and the Collapse. Because of this, he lives in a world of scavengers, slavers, mercenaries, and basically constant danger.

Traveling with his father after his grandfather passed away, the two encounter an abandoned airplane, but they aren’t the only ones. Slavers show up with a woman and young boy in their possession. Stephen’s father decides to risk everything to save them, and Stephen’s world turns upside down. He ends up in a town where, to him it seems, the Collapse never happened. People live in houses, kids go to school, and they even play baseball games. Confused and on guard at all times, Stephen has trouble accepting that these people have no ulterior motive. Living in this town he is faced with a new set of troubles, and he has to continue to fight for what he thinks is right.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. It was fast-paced and had an interesting premise. Some parts of the book gave me pause though. For example, at one point Stephen compares his fear with being on stage at a play without knowing the lines. When had he seen a play? How is this comparison relevant to his life, born five years after the Collapse? Things like this took me out of the imagined world from time to time. The logic of his destroyed world made sense though (especially to someone like me who has read a lot of dystopian fiction). 
  The book was a relatively quick read and reminiscent of The Road by Cormac McCarthy (although much less violent). Another similar book is Ashfall by Mike Mullin (with volcanoes!)

In general, The Eleventh Plague was fairly good representation of the genre, and if it were to go the way of trilogy, I'd keep reading. 

~Cailey W.

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