The Eleventh Plague – A Brief Introduction

The Eleventh Plague is a captivating post-apocalyptic novel written by Jeff Hirsch. Published in 2011 by Scholastic Press, this book takes readers on a thrilling journey through a hostile world ravaged by a devastating epidemic.


Set in the United States, the story follows the protagonist, fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn, as he navigates a world forever changed by the ravages of war and disease. The Eleventh Plague refers to a deadly pandemic that wiped out a significant portion of the population, leaving only a few survivors struggling to rebuild society.

Stephen and his father, along with a small group of survivors, spend their days scavenging for resources and fending off dangerous opportunists in their makeshift home. However, when Stephen’s father falls into a coma, he finds himself alone and vulnerable, thrust into unfamiliar territory.

Throughout his journey, Stephen encounters various challenges, including encounters with hostile factions, moral dilemmas, and the search for a sense of belonging. In this cruel new world, Stephen must confront his own fear, resilience, and capacity to trust others.


The Eleventh Plague has garnered both critical acclaim and a dedicated following since its release. With its compelling storyline, well-developed characters, and thought-provoking themes, the book has resonated with readers of all ages.

Jeff Hirsch’s ability to paint a vivid picture of a post-apocalyptic world and explore the complexities of human nature have been widely praised. The book’s introspection about the effects of war, loss, and the power of hope has earned it a place among the best young adult dystopian novels.

Awards and Accolades

The Eleventh Plague has received several awards and nominations for its exceptional storytelling, including:

  • YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults: The book was recognized as one of the best young adult novels published that year.
  • Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Reading List: The novel was honored for its exceptional quality and appeal to readers of various ages.
  • California Young Reader Medal: The book was a finalist for this prestigious award, demonstrating its impact on young readers.

Notable Characters

The Eleventh Plague features a cast of compelling characters who contribute to the book’s rich narrative. Some of the notable characters include:

  1. Stephen Quinn: The young protagonist who embarks on a challenging journey of self-discovery.
  2. Jenny: A strong-willed girl who becomes Stephen’s friend and ally throughout his journey.
  3. Stephen’s Father: A pivotal character whose coma guides Stephen’s choices and actions.
  4. Charles: A charismatic and enigmatic leader of a survivalist group that Stephen encounters.
  5. Benjamin Coline: A compassionate doctor committed to helping the survivors.

These characters, among others, add depth and complexity to the story, allowing readers to connect and empathize with their struggles and triumphs.

In conclusion, The Eleventh Plague is an enthralling novel that immerses readers in a post-apocalyptic world filled with danger, resilience, and hope. Jeff Hirsch’s compelling storytelling and well-crafted characters have earned this book recognition and acclaim from readers and critics alike, making it a must-read for fans of dystopian literature.

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