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List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

Though death and pestilence seem to go hand-in-hand with the current dystopian/postapocalyptic fiction trend, many of the “plagues” we’ve seen of late have been related to zombies rather than being of viral origin. With that in mind, I thought I’d put together a list of young adult books about plagues and pestilence–including one of my favourites from when I was a teen: Jean Ure’s Plague 99. As always, feel free to add your suggestions in the comments!

(All blurbs taken from Amazon or Book Depository)

 

 List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

Plague 99 by Jean Ure

One of a series of top-quality fiction for schools, this is a story of survival, friendship and loyalty, featuring three teenagers in a picture of life after a plague has killed their parents and left London a ghost town. A winner of the Lancashire Book Award.

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 List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

The Last Dog on Earth by Daniel Ehrenhaft

Logan Moore hates everyone. The father who abandoned him. The stepfather who wants to control him. Kids who get in his face. Everyone. Except Jack. A mangy mutt that nobody wants. Except Logan. He doesn’t care that Jack has already bitten three workers at the animal shelter or that she’s ugly. She’s the only one who doesn’t want anything from him and that’s enough for Logan. But Jack is in terrible danger. A mysterious disease is sweeping across the country, turning dogs into vicious, raging predators. Jack isn’t infected, but that won’t keep her safe. People are shooting dogs on sight, and asking questions later. Logan’s own parents want to hand Jack over to the authorities. Now Logan and Jack are on the run. There’s nowhere they can turn and no one they can trust. Except each other.

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  List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

When sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lets her best friend leave for school without saying goodbye, she never dreams that she might not see him again.  But then a strange virus begins to sweep through her small island community, infecting young and old alike.  As the dead pile up, the government quarantines the island: no one can leave, and no one can come back. Those still healthy must fight for the island’s dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest. Because how will she go on if there isn’t?

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plague michael grant List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

Plague by Michael Grant (see our review)

It’s been eight months since all the adults disappeared. Gone. They’ve survived hunger. They’ve survived lies. But the stakes keep rising, and the dystopian horror keeps building in Plague, Michael Grant’s fourth book in the New York Times bestselling Gone series. A highly contagious, fatal illness is spreading at an alarming rate, while sinister, predatory insects terrorise Perdido Beach. Sam, Astrid, Diana, and Caine are plagued by a growing doubt that they’ll escape—or even survive—life in the FAYZ. With so much turmoil surrounding them, what desperate choices will they make when it comes to saving themselves and those they love?

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 List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

The Plague by Joanne Dahme

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 their kingdoms, Nell’s life could change forever. Princess Joan’s brother The Black Prince schemes to make the wedding go on declaring Nell will no longer double for Joan, she will become the princess and dupe Prince Pedro into marriage! With the aid and protection of a quirky band of friends—a Spanish minstrel, a monk, a gravedigger, a band of merchants—Nell must evade not only the Black Prince, a practitioner of the dark arts, but the plague as well, as she fights to return to the King and country. Based on historical truth, Dahme beautifully captures the dark terror of a Plague-infested fourteenth century Europe, while bringing to life the daily existence of medieval life for young adult readers.

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 List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving. In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two-thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing–and their lives–forever.

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 List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin (my review forthcoming)

Everything is in ruins. A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them. So what does Araby Worth have to live for? Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalising ways to forget it all. But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does. And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

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 List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

Forged in the Fire by Ann Turnbull

London, 1665. Cast out by his father for becoming a Quaker, the newly independent Will travels from the countryside to London to earn a living. He and his beloved Susanna wait patiently to be reunited and, at last, married. But when Will is thrown into jail for his beliefs, the pair’s future becomes uncertain. With the plague spreading closer and the scent of smoke on the wind, can their love still bring them together despite the most terrifying twists of fate?

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 List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter by Lynn Cullen

With her mother dead of the plague, and her beloved brother newly married and moved away, Cornelia van Rijn finds herself without a friend or confidante–save her difficult father. Out of favor with Amsterdam’s elite, and considered brash and unreasonable by his patrons, Rembrandt van Rijn, once revered, is now teetering on the brink of madness. Cornelia alone must care for him, though she herself is haunted by secrets and scandal. Her only happiness comes in chance meetings with Carel, the son of a wealthy shipping magnate whose passion for art stirs Cornelia. And then there is Neel, her father’s last remaining pupil, whose steadfast devotion to Rembrandt both baffles and touches her. Based on historical fact, and filled with family dramas and a love triangle that would make Jane Austen proud, I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter is a powerful account of a young woman’s struggle to come of age within the shadow of one of the world’s most brilliant and complicated artists.

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 List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

All Fall Down by Susan Geason

Christabel McManus is a strong-willed fourteen-year-old from Sydney’s upper classes. Since the death of her mother two years earlier, her father—the Government Inspector of Health for New South Wales—has thrown himself increasingly into his work, leaving Christabel feeling lonely and resentful. When Paddy Rafferty, a servant’s eight-year-old son, is kidnapped by his villainous father to be trained as a pickpocket, Christabel decides to rescue him—by dressing as a boy herself and heading into the squalid and crime-ridden streets of The Rocks. What begins as a game takes a terrifying turn, as Christabel discovers that the notoriously violent gangs are not the only thing to be feared; an outbreak of the deadly bubonic plague is imminent. And when Christabel, too, is kidnapped, the game becomes very dangerous indeed…

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 List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

At the Sign of The Sugared Plum by Mary Hooper (our review forthcoming)

‘You be going to live in the city, Hannah?’ Farmer Price asked, pushing his battered hat up over his forehead. ‘Wouldn”t think you’d want to go there . . . Times like this, I would have thought your sister would try and keep you away.’ Hannah is oblivious to Farmer Price’s dark words, excited as she is about her first ever trip to London to help her sister in her shop ‘The Sugared Plum’, making sweetmeats for the gentry. Hannah does not however get the reception she expected from her sister Sarah. Instead of giving Hannah a hearty welcome, Sarah is horrified that Hannah did not get her message to stay away – the Plague is taking hold of London.

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 List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

The Sunbird by Elizabeth E Wein

Eleven-year-old Telemakos is the grandson of two royal men: one African, from the kingdom of Aksum; the other Artos, the fallen High King of Britain. He is also a remarkable listener and tracker. Now his country needs his skill. Even though there is a quarantine, plague is spreading through Aksum, leaving disease and death in its wake. Telemakos is recruited as the emperor’s spy. He must travel through the brutal desert to the salt mines of Afar; there, he needs to discover who has been traitor to the crown. This challenge will take all of Telemakos’s skill and strength and his ability to stay silent—for if he is discovered, there will be no mercy.

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 List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

The Cure by Sonia Levitin

Branded a deviant–and therefore a threat–to the utopian society of Conformity, Harmony, and Tranquility that exists in the year 2407, Gemm 16884 is given the choice between being recycled or undergoing a painful and mysterious cure. Gemm chooses the cure, and suddenly finds himself living the life of Johannes, a 16-year-old Jewish musician in starsbourg, Germany, in 1348, at the onset of the Black Death. As the pestilence spreads, the townspeople begin the accuse the Jews of causing the disease. Surrounded by hatred and horror, Johannes struggles to hold on to his family and faith as well as his belief in the basic goodness of human beings. But can he return to the future and become Gemm again after having known such emotions as pain. . .and love?

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 List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

During the summer of 1793, Mattie Cook lives above the family coffee shop with her widowed mother and grandfather. Mattie spends her days avoiding chores and making plans to turn the family business into the finest Philadelphia has ever seen. But then the fever breaks out. Disease sweeps the streets, destroying everything in its path and turning Mattie’s world upside down. At her feverish mother’s insistence, Mattie flees the city with her grandfather. But she soon discovers that the sickness is everywhere, and Mattie must learn quickly how to survive in a city turned frantic with disease.

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 List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

Footprints at the Window by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Dan has had enough of the uncertainty surrounding his life these days. While he may not be able to change his family’s troubling secret, he intends to put a stop to his encounters with mysterious gypsies — both in the present and the past. By summoning the gypsies to join him, Dan is once again propelled into the past, this time to the era of the Black Death. Will Dan survive the widespread disaster that threatens to destroy the world as he knows it? And if so, will it change him forever?

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 List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

The House on Hound Hill by Maggie Prince

Something is not right in Emily’s new house in the historic London neighborhood of Hound Hill. And something is not quite right with Emily. Encountering hints to her home’s haunted past, she begins to experience distressing symptoms: a headache, a fever, extreme thirst, hallucinations, and, then, a doorway to an earlier period of great distress. Readers will be swept away in this riveting and suspenseful tale that vividly reveals the great suffering of the Black Death, a disease that killed almost a quarter of the population of London.

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 List: Young adult books about plagues and pestilence

The Plague Tales by Anne Benson

t is history’s most feared disease. It turned neighbor against neighbor, the civilized into the savage, and the living into the dead. Now, in a spellbinding novel of adventure and science, romance and terror, two eras are joined by a single trace of microscopic bacterium—the invisible seeds of a new bubonic plague. In the year 1348, a disgraced Spanish physician crosses a landscape of horrors to Avignon, France. There, he will be sent on an impossible mission to England, to save the royal family from the Black Death…. Nearly seven hundred years later, a woman scientist digs up a clod of earth in London. In a world where medicine is tightly controlled, she will unearth a terror lying dormant for centuries.

7 comments

  1. As a fan of dystopian/post apocalyptic novels, I had no idea how many had been written about plagues! Thanks for a great list!

    • Stephanie /

      My pleasure, Jen! I was surprised by how hard it was to find ones where an actual plague was involved–very often zombies crop up in so-called plague novels instead!

  2. Deanna /

    1793 is a great read!

    You might want to add Last Dog in the World–I just finished it and really enjoyed it. Intense and sad, but, after all, it is a plague book.

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks so much for the recommendation, Deanna! I’ll add it to the list. :)

  3. Jenny Pox (J.J. Bryan) was interesting and about a girl who causes plagues supernaturally.

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks for the recommendation, Helen! I’ll add it to the list when I get a chance. :)

  4. karenpelletier /

    Deadly by Julie Chibarro is also a great one!

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