This was a buddy read with my favorite 12-year old. (Definition of “buddy reading” with my son: He takes a week or two to read the book, then goes to school and takes a quiz (Sidenote: I’m buddy reading the Truman Award Nominees with him – if he reads 4 or more he gets some kind of reward, if he reads all 12 he gets to party like it’s 1999. I just get to say I’m a middle-aged woman who reads books for pre-pubescents). After taking and passing the quiz, he comes home and then HOUNDS ME ALL FREAKING NIGHT LONG to “hurry and finish already so we can TAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLK about it”. In addition, he’s a huge spoiler, so I seriously have about two hours to read a book before he starts blurting out anything and everything that is about to happen.)
Unfortunately, I had a bit of a problem with the plot. However, since I’m one million seven hundred thousand years old and this book wasn’t written for my demographic, these issues probably don’t even exist for middle-schoolers. I found the tale of a nomadic lifestyle migrating with the season changes across a desolate wasteland to be pretty awesome (my kid says “this part was sooooooo boring”). Add in the discovery of a “town” filled with people trying to recreate normalcy and I was still in (kid says “that’s when it started getting a little better”) . Mix in a bit of drama, prank gone wrong, escalation to WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE annnnnnnnd you lost me (but, the kid says “oooooh, that’s when it was gooooood”).
Bonus – although a bit open ended, it does not appear that this will be part of a series (ugh how I hate how EVERYTHING has to be a freaking series!), I rarely like something that I know is part of a series enough to read more than the first book, so I like that this does not say “#1 of the Plague Series” or some such nonsense after the title.
At the end of the day, “The Eleventh Plague” was a decent little book and I got through it (under duress) in no time at all. The kid says “it was more good than it was bad and it was pretty short so if you need to read Truman Books, I’d pick this one”. There you go. If you’re 12 and “kinda” want to read just enough to get credit for reading, this is a good choice. If you’re old and like reading post-apocalyptic children’s books, but don’t have a child of you own to help hide your shame, you can say this one is nominated for an award ; )