Emily May's Reviews > Plague

Plague by Michael  Grant
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Mar 30, 12

bookshelves: young-adult, sci-fi, dystopia-utopia, 2011, wtf-sexism
Read from June 03 to 05, 2011



This book pretty much completely overruled everything negative I may have said about Lies. The last book seemed like the series was running out of juice and I found it impossible to believe that Grant could sustain the story throughout the 3 more books he had planned. But alas, all is forgiven and Plague was pretty much awesome, apart from some of the same old annoying factors that got on my nerves before in Gone and Hunger. Books 1 and 2 built up this overall plot about the radiation effects from the power plant and how it all led to the mutations and superpowers blah-de-blah... we also began to find out that the adults had known something about what was happening before the FAYZ incident. Cool and interesting. Then Lies just died a miserable and boring death. Grant's writing was still undeniably good but the story wasn't polished - it felt to me that Grant hadn't fully worked out where the story was going after Hunger. I was therefore apprehensive about reading Plague. But no, the story is well and truly back in full swing.

The plot was incredible - this time around Michael Grant simply did not have the word 'boring' in his dictionary - and not to mention extremely gory. As in, flu that makes you cough up your lungs (literally) gory... and insects that eat you from the inside kind of gory. Damn, this author does not bother to spare the reader any detailed nastiness! I also have to point out that any reluctance I had in picking up this book was more or less eradicated by the opening sentence. I have ranted and complained in previous reviews about Sam being such an unrealistic, self-sacrificing character. I mean, he's fifteen years old, he should not be such a do-gooder. I distinctly remember saying that at fifteen he should be drinking like a fish and raiding the porn sections at local stores... so imagine my utter delight when I opened the book and chapter one, first line: "Sam Temple was drunk". I had to laugh at the hilarity of it.

And yes, it appears to be mostly true: Sam has finally got over his self-sacrificing hero phase and has now moved on to the tortured emo phase. There is only one boy who successfully worked the hero image at fifteen years old - Harry Potter - and we all know he got blasted in the forehead as baby, whereas Sam Temple had no such excuse. Now we've moved on to the characters in this book (and believe me, I have a lot to say), I should probably point out how much I hate Astrid. She said it herself towards the end, something about how everyone must think she's a hypocritical, sanctimonious bitch. Well, yeah, and I wonder why? Maybe it's because you spout all this religious scripture about sin and God's will and then spend half this book wondering if you should murder your autistic brother. I think we're supposed to feel sorry for her... and hey, maybe it's just me, but it really didn't work in my opinion. Oh and the whole sex thing in this book: either do it or don't but please stop making it into a huge God issue. I don't know what was more annoying: Sam's constant whining because Astrid won't have sex with him... or the fact that she won't have sex with him for fear it will lead her deeper into sin (murder's okay but sex is just plain evil). She is a teenage girl from a regular high school in a town on the sunny shores of Southern California - not a nun from some hut in Uganda. Not that there tend to be a large amount of nuns hiding out in huts in Uganda or anything... Oh, and one last thing about Sam and Astrid: chemistry. Or lack of. Because I'm not getting it AT ALL.

Know who else is really bugging me character-wise? Lana. When did Lana become such an annoying character? She used to be cool... now she's barricaded herself in a hotel on a hilltop where she chain smokes and only talks to Patrick - her dog. This could be forgiven, I mean, she's had it rough... but she's also turned bitchy, nasty, selfish, and the unflattering list goes on and on. She now begrudges all those she has to heal, jesus, she only has to touch them, like it's such a huge bloody chore! It's not as if she's the only one who's had it hard - other people are having their guts eaten by giant bugs! Ick, stop with the self-pity, I liked you before.

Though, it's not all bad in the character department, it must be said. Brianna, you are now my favourite mutant. I always thought you were annoying, and I was right - you are annoying (you nicknamed yourself 'The Breeze'... like Spiderman or Cat Woman... and that's just sad). But I forgive you because you were so awesomely kick-ass in this book and you completely showed Caine how it's done. You go girl! You go Breeze!

Now, here goes: the rant. Well, sort of. I've had chance to calm down since I first read the offensiveness. But, well, if you've read my other reviews regarding the earlier books in this series, I was majorly pissed because all the strongest characters were male, all the leaders were male, all the girls needed protecting - they were mostly little more than the love interests of the novels. But I sort of shrugged it off because the series is written by a guy who is probably just trying to cater to the reading desires of teenage boys: superheroes, villains, action scenes and hot girls. I can take that, especially seeing as there were some strong females to alleviate the blow like Brianna, Dekka and Lana; and, of course, Michael Grant never actually stated that the girls were weak or anything like that. And then I read a certain line about half way through this book. And then I read it again. Oh dear god... that did it. I was actually liking Caine and Diana for once, I found their relationship quite touching, and then it had to be said - didn't it? - I almost choked on nothing when I read it "A girl like her could use a strong male protector". OMGWTF?! It would have even been forgivable to declare she needed a "strong protector" but the deliberate emphasis on it being male just served to make it a gender issue and... well, ouch. Wow, this was just blatantly stating the fact that the women need men to protect them. Cringe. That is not what I wanted to read at all. Then just to make it worse, Caine turned into a bully as soon as he was asked to come back to the island. I'd never seen Caine as an evil character. I saw him as troubled and rather selfish but I was sure there would be enough humanity left to redeem him... not feeling so confident about it after he used his powers to force Diana to do what he wanted. He even went as far as to point out that, even though she'd willingly had sex with him, he could easily have forced her if she hadn't. That was another reason why it was so wonderful when Brianna swooped in and saved his sorry ass. Who's the tough one now, buddy?

My angry girl rant aside, the ending to Plague is my favourite of the series. It's the one that has made me most want to locate the next installment asap (2012 - noooooo!). The book finished where a lot had been successfully wrapped up - good, because I don't want a year of wondering what the hell will happen to the giant bugs - but it also opened up an entirely new mystery. I think we're finally getting to the exploration of the extent of Little Pete's powers, he's the biggest mystery of the FAYZ, afterall. But the ending was interesting, mysterious, even ambiguous... I cannot wait to read Fear.
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06/04/2011 page 109
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Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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message 1: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Terrific review!!!


Emily May Thanks Stephen, glad you liked it!


Benna WOW that was a great review! You have convinced to read Plague.


Emily May Thanks Benna, hope you enjoy it :)


Rebecca Campbell I don't see the gender issues the same way you do, especially with Cain and Diana. All the books make a big deal about how Diana's talent is basically using her sexuality to use and abuse people. So I would think she would naturally believe she would need a male protector. I think that was more Diana's point of view, and it actually goes along with the character's personality. I don't think that was necessarily written in there as the author's point of view or a third person narration. It was Diana's thought. Anyway, everyone has the part to play, even if it isn't having the biggest powers, the girls have significant roles. The key is they all have to work together to accomplish things. Even though some are super powerful, and maybe they happen to be guys, they all need each other. See the battle against the bugs as an example. Otherwise, interesting review, thanks.


Emily May Thanks for your thoughts, Rebecca. I can see what you mean about it being Diana's opinion, but I feel like a lot of Grant's message is that girls are weak. Also, every single one of the main girls - Astrid, Diana, Brianna, Lana - are called "beautiful" or "cute". It seems important to Grant that girls are defined by their looks, but not the guys. I actually really like this series, I just wish the female characters were better. I can't see what Astrid's role is apart from being Sam's girlfriend.


Samantha Hey! Awesome review I loved it and had to laugh about the part with Astrid and her thoughts about sex and murder haha. I agree 100% about your character description of Astrid. She's annoying and just gets on my nerves. At first Lana was my favourite but this book has showed her to be a completely different person now. You have really in depth opinions. Thanks for sharing!! :)


message 8: by Meghann (new) - added it

Meghann Hey I loved your review


Emily May Thank you :)


message 10: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Nice review. You know, it's interesting what you said about the gender politics in the book, because Animorphs (co-written by Grant, credited to his wife) was one of the first middle-grade series to have a cross-gender appeal; Rachel was the most dangerous member, and while Cassie was slightly more feminine, she could still fight when she needed to. It's sort of weird that Grant's taken a step back in those terms. I dunno, I haven't read this one yet (I'm about to start Hunger), but I was never bothered by the lack of female heroines, simply because there are so few male ones these days.


Lindsay Great review. I also agree with you that this book was significantly better than lies. The only reason I read this one is because it was the first book I could grab on my way to work. I was happily surprised by how good it was!


Emily May Thanks, Lindsay! In my opinion, the rest of the series stays good after this book too :)


Lindsay Thank you very much for saying that! I just barely started reading Fear, and have been hoping that the series stays this good!


message 14: by Gaby (new)

Gaby THIS REVIEW IS PROBABLY MY FAVOURITE IN ALL OF GOIDREADS!


Emily May Thank you :)


Sarah khalife you write great reviews really have u ever considered being an editor someday?


message 17: by Lexi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lexi I couldn't agree more completely! I found myself wishing Astrid would just drop dead. I despise her character too much for words. I am also not fond of Sam. At all. But I loved Brianna and Dekka and Jack and Edilio... Everything you said in this review hits home completely. You are right about Caine and Diana. I never really saw them as evil people, or even strong antagonists. It was always the psychopathic Drake who seemed to be the true evil one. But at this point, I'm actually rooting for him more than Sam....
I hope the library has the next one. I literally read one of these books every day last week. Except Wednesday. I read a different book on Wednesday.
Anyway, amazing review! This was probably my favorite of these books so far, as well. I loved the gory descriptions. I told my parents about the snakes and what they did, and it completely freaked them out.


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