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The Plague

2.95  ·  Rating details ·  228 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
In a land overshadowed by death, fifteen year-old Nell's uncanny resemblance to Princess Joan brings her to act as her double—what young girl wouldn't want to leave a life of poverty and pretend to be a princess? But when the plague catches up to the royal entourage, thwarting the King's plan for the princess to marry the Prince of Castile and seal an alliance between thei ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Running Press Kids (first published April 11th 2009)
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Rating details
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Mar 27, 2009 rated it liked it
FIRST LINE: “When I was George’s age, I had an unsettling dream about Princess Joan, and this was at a time when the princess was a stranger to me, known only through a flashing glimpse from a faraway vantage point.”

Nell and her younger brother George are escorting their parents’ bodies to the burial pit for plague victims when the King happens upon them. He mistakes Nell for his own daughter, Princess Joan. Without other future prospects, and determined to care for George, Nell agrees to become
May 03, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Highly unsatisfied with this book that had the potential to be really great. Set back in 1348, during the disasterous time of the plague in Europe, this book by Joanne Dahme could have been great. I feel that the author had a concept in mind and every once in a while as I read, I felt the characters and the plot were truly starting to improve and then...the story went sporadic and flat again. I only continued to read the story because of my ultimate curiousity on how it would end. However, as I ...more
Jan 12, 2009 rated it did not like it
To be fair: I read the ARC of this book, so it's possible that the grammatical problems (mostly problems of tense) will be fixed by the time it comes out in hardcover. I hope this is the case! But it wasn't just the grammar that bothered me. I can't quite put my finger on what it was about the plot and characters I didn't like, except to say that they didn't seem real. I didn't feel like I knew them or really cared what happened to them. I wanted the good guys to win, but I wasn't emotionally in ...more
Cindy Hudson
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
In the 1300s England, fifteen-year-old Nell has served as an attendant to Princess Joan since Nell’s parents died of the plague two years before. She also protects her nine-year-old brother, George, who is simple but also wise in unexpected ways. Nell bears an uncanny resemblance to Princess Joan. When the princess dies of a new plague outbreak while on a journey to meet her future husband, her brother, the Black Prince, hatches a plot to pass Nell off as the princess and marry her to a Spanish ...more
Jan 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
Based on the back blurbs touting the author's previous, horror-based works, I thought that this would be somewhat the same. Instead, what I got was fair-to-middling historical fiction about the Great Plague, intertwined with the story of Princess Joan and the Black Prince and a hint of The Prince and the Pauper.

Nell, the Princess' look-alike, is taken into the royal household (along with her brother George) when her parents die of the plague. Two years later, they accompany the Princess on her
Anna Graham
Jul 18, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No One
Recommended to Anna by: I read this for a book club at the library
2.5/10 would not recommend.

I would like to start off by saying that this was in no way a terrible book. It is simply very boring. (Hence the two star rating.) The plot was the predictable Prince and the Pauper theme, nothing unusual or new here. The author tried to spice it up by adding in a magical army of rats and some healing powers, but it didn't save the book from its clichés. It could have been a bit more interesting if the POV switched between George, Henry, and the Black Prince. Througho
Apr 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
Really it was probably a 3 star book, but I am left with a feeling of disappointment so . . . let's stick with 2 stars.

Nell is a double for Princess Joan. When the Princess falls prey to the King's Plague her evil brother the Black Prince threatens Nell into pretending to be the princess traveling to marry the Prince of Castille so that he will control Spain. With the help of a wayward soldier, her brother and a merry gang of other characters Nell escapes and tries to make her way back to London
Jun 17, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 21, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
None of the characters are fully fleshed out. There is no reasoning behind the Black Prince's behavior, he seems to enjoy being evil for the sake of it. The fantasy elements are befuddling at best. The plot is convoluted and contrived. There was no flow to the story at all. Disappointing.
May 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
A borrowed plot with, at first, realistic surroundings, then suddenly a character with otherworldly powers comes in. Ick.
Oct 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Nell and her younger brother George lost their parents to the plague in London, and were only rescued from the fate of being left orphaned and alone in the devastated city by chance. King Edward was traveling through the city to view the devastation of the plague for himself, and happened to notice Nell, who had a strong resemblance to his own daughter, Princess Joan. He decided to rescue the children and bring them to his castle so that Nell could be a companion and double for the princess.

Jul 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen
Nell looks remarkably like Princess Joan and is given a position as the princess's double, appearing in place of the princess in any potentially dangerous situation. When Princess Joan dies in the latest run of the plague, the Black Prince, Joan's creepy older brother, wants Nell to permanently assume the princess's position, and Nell must escape from him and convince the king that Joan is the one who died.

While I appreciated the insights that this book gave into what life was like during the pl
Jul 28, 2010 rated it it was ok
I thought this book was going to be all historical and for the most part, it is. However then there’s this fantastical element that’s been added in and I can’t quite understand why as there really was no need for it. Actually I think it made the book worse. I especially disliked how Edward was seen as a ‘sorcerer’ with his army of black rats descending terror upon Nell and her friends. What in the world was that about??!!! I really did not like that at all.

Although the plot was interesting, the
Jun 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-12, teen-read
Fifteen-year-old Nell's parents have both succumbed to the Plague. It's just her and her brother now. Even before her parents are in the ground, she runs into the king and his procession. Nell captures the king's attention right away because of her amazing resemblance to the king's daughter, Princess Joan.

Nell is commissioned into a new role, a sometime body double for the Princess.

It has been arranged that Princess Joan is to marry the Prince of Castile. On their journey to Castile for the upc
Aug 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book was one of those where I was really into it and loving it when I first began reading, but towards the middle and end I was SO bored. It's really disappointing, actually, because this story had the opportunity to be SO GOOD. I mean, it's set during the time of the plague and you have this girl who's working for the princess after her parents die, and you have the evil character, and the possible love interest. The plot itself had such a wonderful opportunity to be so great and to be so ...more
Steph Su
Apr 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
THE PLAGUE was a decisively odd and unsatisfying read. I had expected a grand and exciting adventure full of so much danger you couldn’t possibly flip a page without encountering it. However, this book was slow, disjointed, and inconclusive. I never got a sense for any of the characters, most of whom seemed to pop in and out of the story arbitrarily, their backstories and motivations unexplained. The Black Prince was a too perfect villain, with consistently evil actions and a predictable ending. ...more
Sep 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, ya
There appears to be have been a wasted opportunity here to do a lighter tale type story, based on the idea that two people from comletely different social and economic backgrounds could switch places with each, because of how much they look alike. The use of this premise seemed to be nothing more than a simple plot device to setup how how a girl and her little brother are wrongly accused and setup by the Black Prince, in the midst of a spreading plague during the 14th century. We don't even get ...more
Brandi Bette
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
"We watched cart after cart empty their contents into the pits. I couldn't call them people, the things in the carts, or I would have to cry out in despair.... There was nothing to define these forms as men, women, or child.” Nell, an orphan who looks exactly like Princess Joan, daughter of King Edward III, is enlisted by the king to be his daughter's body-double. When the real princess dies from the plague that is ravaging Europe, Nell is made to marry the Spanish Prince Pedro in place of the l ...more
Jenna Nov
Nov 08, 2012 rated it liked it
This book really wasn't what I expected it to be.

Although the author filled the story with action and characters, I really didn't see any development and somehow the writing felt hollow to me. It just wasn't a very good reading experience.

When there was supposed to be suspense, l felt nothing, when you were supposed to feel romance, I felt nothing. The author definently should have done a better job with imagery in this story.

I suppose I like this book but it is definitely not something I woul
Mar 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
There wasn't a heck of a lot of plot involved. A fairly linear storyline, easy to follow, easy to predict, but an odd tip over into "sorcery" at one point (the Black Prince could apparently command an army of rats...ok, sure). I would like to read a book in which the younger brother doesn't completely annoy me, but in this one at least I didn't care all that much. None of the characters were very fleshed out, the action (what there was of it) didn't make a whole lot of sense, and I somehow misse ...more
Nov 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
First off what I love about this book is the writing. This author uses words, language, similies, metaphors and descriptions like none other WITHOUT making the reader weary! Many times I will hop through a passage of other books .. bored of how it is described... anxious to get to the thought...but with this author even though I wanted to know what she was getting at...I READ IT ALL... she is incredible.

The story... is hopeful. It is a thoughtful look at what the people going through the time p
Jul 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
For a historical fiction novel, the historical details seemed few and far between. The author resuses some of the same vocabulary words so many times that it becomes distracting. I can't count how many times I read the word 'crenelated' in reference to a castle or how many times a character 'cocked' his or her head in conversation. After an enticing opening, I was disappointed by the lazy narration and stale characters. The story is not believable for students past grade 7, but the vocabulary ma ...more
Christine Edison
I wanted to like this book. It's sort of an update of the Prince and the Pauper, but in this case, the Pauper has a little brother in tow and the princess dies of the plague. Although the idea was interesting, the little brother became kind of tiresome, and the magic element seemed out of place in what was otherwise a realistic novel.
Krista Stevens
Hoping this would be a good MS book to add to our reading list. It was all right, but I didn't get a sense of the historical time and never understood how the Black Prince did sorcery with the rats and that was the only magic in the story.
Feb 04, 2009 rated it liked it
This book was good, and well written, but I think it needed a little bit more dramatic of a story arc. It wasn't boring, so to say, but I just kept waiting for the plot to really thicken, and then I realized I was over halfway done with the book and that never really happened.
Brandee Terry
Apr 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
To be fair, I would give this a 2 1/2 stars if that were an option. That book lacked the sincerity in the characters. It was slow moving and I never got into the characters. The prince's character is never explained and the book is just missing something.
May 11, 2012 rated it liked it
I love Nell and her crew. The plot is interesting and exciting, and the ending opens up new possibilities, which is great. However, I would have liked to see a bit more confrontation instead of fleeing scenes. I would also have liked to see slightly beyond the current ending. Decent story.
Feb 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
2 1/2 stars.
Oct 26, 2011 rated it did not like it
I did read this entire book, but it was hard. Very hard, especially for such a small and easy to read book. The plot was poor and the story was boring. Plus, I really didn't like all the rats.
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