by Jeff Hirsch

Scholastic, $17.99, 280 pages

The success of YA books like Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series has resulted in a boom in the number of books written for this popular genre. Young adults can enjoy challenging stories appropriate for their age and adults can also enjoy some very unique and thrilling plot lines. Author Jeff Hirsch’s new YA novel is called The Eleventh Plague. The main character, fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn, has lived in desolate war torn United States of America for all his life. He and his family roam what is left of the U.S., searching for items to trade. Once they salvaged some old Star Wars toys and traded for clothes, medicine and bullets. Stephen’s life is rough but he does what he must to survive. Then one day, everything goes wrong. His dad is wounded, their haul is stolen, and a frightened boy is forced to mature overnight. Fans of The Road by Cormac McCarthy will find similar themes in this book. The fact that the narrator is a young boy will appeal to YA audiences. A darkness seeps through the book which makes the emotional and lighthearted moments shine. While the action and story do have an explosive conclusion, Hirsch subtlety sets up a possible second book.

Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin