Goodreads: The Scourge
Published: August 30, 2016
When a plague isn’t all that kills…
As a lethal plague sweeps through the land, Ani Mells is shocked when she is unexpectedly captured by the governor’s wardens and forced to submit to a test for the deadly Scourge. She is even more surprised when the test results come back positive, and she is sent to Attic Island, a former prison turned refuge—and quarantine colony—for the ill. The Scourge’s victims, Ani now among them, can only expect to live out short, painful lives there.
However, Ani quickly discovers that she doesn’t know the whole truth about the Scourge or the Colony. She’s been caught in a devious plot, and, with the help of her best friend, Weevil, Ani means to uncover just what is actually going on. But will she and Weevil survive the Scourge—and the gorvernor’s wardens—long enough to make their escape and expose the cruel plan?
I LOVED Jennifer A. Nielsen’s Ascendance Trilogy and her historical fiction novel A Night Divided, so I was excited about her most recent release, a medieval-esque fantasy where a girl and her best friend discover the unsettling truth about a scourge that is beginning to ravish their country. The beginning of the novel, unfortunately, was rough going for me, and I thought I might be disappointed by Nielsen’s work for once, but the second half of the book really picked up with character development and action, and now I’m a fan of The Scourge.
The start was slow partially because protagonist Ani really got on my nerves. At this point in the book, she is annoying and hotheaded to the point of foolishness. Initially I thought maybe I was supposed to admire her, that perhaps the author was trying to pass her off as “feisty” or “bold” and it wasn’t working, but by the end of the novel Ani seems to recognize herself that sometimes she needs to stop, think, and shut her mouth, so there’s some real character development here.
The plot also picks up pace as the novel progresses, particularly once Ani and her friend Weevil reach the sick colony. It’s pretty obvious what part of the plot reveal will be for most of the book, and therefore mildly frustrating that Ani doesn’t seem to get it (though it’s probably fair she doesn’t get it, considering her position as a character living the story and mine as a reader). However, the motives for what is going on completely took me by surprise and were not what I would have predicted. I’m still debating whether the bad guys were achieving their goals the most efficient way possible, but I’ll grant that it’s creative.
The best thing about the novel, however, may be the friendship between Ani and Weevil–real, flawed, and absolutely beautiful. I don’t always “feel” the friendships in books the way I think the authors wanted me to; here I did.
If you’re looking for a novel with a bit of a mystery, a dash of daring, and a lot of heart, you’ll enjoy The Scourge.