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The Scourge

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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 th 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?


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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 th 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?

30 review for The Scourge

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Nielsen

    Okay yes, I'm biased. But I am so proud of this book, and I hope it's one you'll enjoy! The idea began in a most unusual place - a fascination with leprosy in the 20th Century. We knew what it was AND how to cure it, yet because of the stigma associated with it, in many places, it was still legal to pull a leprosy victim away from their home and send them to an isolation colony permanently. There are still some colonies in the world where survivors remain, voluntarily now. And I thought, if a gove Okay yes, I'm biased. But I am so proud of this book, and I hope it's one you'll enjoy! The idea began in a most unusual place - a fascination with leprosy in the 20th Century. We knew what it was AND how to cure it, yet because of the stigma associated with it, in many places, it was still legal to pull a leprosy victim away from their home and send them to an isolation colony permanently. There are still some colonies in the world where survivors remain, voluntarily now. And I thought, if a government wanted to take advantage of that fear, it could do serious damage. The two main characters of this story, Ani and Weevil, have a friendship that I absolutely adore! It is largely based on the song, "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers - a song you'll hear referenced in the text. Ani's personality comes directly from the song, "Breaking the Habit" by Linkin Park. I hope you will enjoy this book!

  2. 5 out of 5

    jv poore

    River people are derogatorily referred to as “grubs” and in retaliation, they only address townspeople as “pinchworms”. It is true that the folks outside of town prefer their own company and way of life. It is also accurate to say they’ve been ostracized, blamed for being the source and spreaders of the Scourge, stealing so many lives hundreds of years ago. Ani Mells is a proud river person known to create a touch of trouble wherever she goes. Perhaps a bit stubborn and quite possibly prejudiced River people are derogatorily referred to as “grubs” and in retaliation, they only address townspeople as “pinchworms”. It is true that the folks outside of town prefer their own company and way of life. It is also accurate to say they’ve been ostracized, blamed for being the source and spreaders of the Scourge, stealing so many lives hundreds of years ago. Ani Mells is a proud river person known to create a touch of trouble wherever she goes. Perhaps a bit stubborn and quite possibly prejudiced against pinchworms; she is also intuitively kind, driven to do the right thing and ferociously loyal. When she and her best bud, Weevil, are essentially abducted and hauled into town, she is too furious to question the reasoning. Told that they needed to be tested for the recently resurrected Scourge, Ani was initially wary and so she asked questions. Answers, if provided at all, were vague and almost illogical. Not only does Ani doubt the townspeople’s truth about the plague, but she suspects something sinister afoot. She is determined to get the bottom of it, but Governor Felling and her guards have to stop her. Weevil wants what Ani wants and the two together may just have a chance to end the heinous political plan that is so horrific I won’t even hint about it here. This fantastical, action-packed adventure also shows personal growth and change, along with some quick wit and humorous banter. I’m completely charmed and in awe of characters that possess admirable and attainable attributes while still being wholly human and making silly mistakes and an occasional dumb decision along the way. Ms. Nielsen must keep in the company of wizards because there’s way too much magic in her writing for it to made of only hard work and mad skills. This review was written for Buried Under Books by jv poore.

  3. 4 out of 5

    m a r y l i z

    Reread March/April 2020: Lowering my rating by a star because I noticed the pacing was a bit off this time around. Still, it's such a fun book and I'm glad I reread it! I just haven't been myself lately so I'm in a HECKIN AWFUL reading slump and took over a month to read this. someone pls send help. 4 stars . . . . . . . . I think I'm gonna need about ten years to catch my breath. GOOD GRIEF, THIS BOOK WAS INTENSE. It kept me on the edge of my seat, white-knuckled in some parts. (Whether that was fro Reread March/April 2020: Lowering my rating by a star because I noticed the pacing was a bit off this time around. Still, it's such a fun book and I'm glad I reread it! I just haven't been myself lately so I'm in a HECKIN AWFUL reading slump and took over a month to read this. someone pls send help. 4 stars . . . . . . . . I think I'm gonna need about ten years to catch my breath. GOOD GRIEF, THIS BOOK WAS INTENSE. It kept me on the edge of my seat, white-knuckled in some parts. (Whether that was from the excitement of the book or trying to beat Jonny remains to be decided. XP) It was also uproariously funny...like seriously, the sass levels? WAY OFF THE CHARTS. I think I'm officially in love with Jennifer Nielsen's books. Just like The Ascendance Trilogy, I laughed out loud more than I can remember. This author just creates the sassiest characters ever, which is awesome. AND WEEVIL AND ANI?! They were precious little muffins AND I LOVED THEM. Gahhhhh, I just really want a friend like Weevil, okay? The Scourge far exceeded my anticipations once again. Minus the plot twists which I guessed into (a little disappointing, but still awesome) and the slightly anticlimactic ending, it was a rollicking good time. SO GO. READ THIS BOOK, PEOPLE. *pushes you toward the library* 4.5 stars

  4. 4 out of 5

    Colleen Houck

    A really cool concept. Those in power manufacture a disease to get rid of people who might cause trouble. The cage was an interesting punishment. It would definitely work on me. Loved the beginning when the heroine is hanging upside down with a vine wrapped around her leg. =)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Libby May

    I enjoyed this book but it was like a more sci-fi, none-religion based rebellion in almost exactly the same plot theme as Counted Worthy that I just read XDD Anyway, besides that it was clean in regards to language, witchcraft, romance, and such. There wasn't any violence but definitely some cruel mind games and threats to manipulate people into doing what the antagonists wanted done. I didn't think it was bad but if that sort of thing bothers you then that's probably not the best idea for you. A I enjoyed this book but it was like a more sci-fi, none-religion based rebellion in almost exactly the same plot theme as Counted Worthy that I just read XDD Anyway, besides that it was clean in regards to language, witchcraft, romance, and such. There wasn't any violence but definitely some cruel mind games and threats to manipulate people into doing what the antagonists wanted done. I didn't think it was bad but if that sort of thing bothers you then that's probably not the best idea for you. All in all, I enjoyed the MCs Ani and Weevil, both were developed and they worked really well together. I loved their friendship and the strength and their arguing who was the worse friend and the way they stuck through it all. I loved Ani's passion and stand for her River people and I enjoyed the plotline. Would I read it again? Probably not. I've read better dystopia/outcast people's books. But I am glad I read this one. Thanks for the rec. Kate.

  6. 4 out of 5

    R.F. Gammon

    The plague stuff all hit WAY close to home on this one right now...yikes.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kate Willis

    Since my Goodreads friends are such big fans of Jennifer Nielsen, I decided it was high time I tried one of her books. I chose this standalone because 1) the cover and interior formatting <3 and 2) the concept looked interesting. ;) It was good. :D I always love me a good medieval setting, and this book had it all. Dungeons, trees, primitive medicine, hardy rural folk… Speaking of hardy rural folk, while Ani wasn’t my favorite character ever, this was one thing I liked about her. She could have te Since my Goodreads friends are such big fans of Jennifer Nielsen, I decided it was high time I tried one of her books. I chose this standalone because 1) the cover and interior formatting <3 and 2) the concept looked interesting. ;) It was good. :D I always love me a good medieval setting, and this book had it all. Dungeons, trees, primitive medicine, hardy rural folk… Speaking of hardy rural folk, while Ani wasn’t my favorite character ever, this was one thing I liked about her. She could have tended to be the classic belligerent “strong female character” who saw things no else did, started a revolution, etc., but instead--while she definitely had some of those classic things going on--I got the idea that she was mostly a product of her culture. (Though she was definitely a troublemaker even at home.) The more I heard about the River People, the more they reminded me of people I knew back when I lived in the country. ;) Okay, so this book made me feel what the characters were feeling. Which is huge. I was honestly blown away by how real Ani’s fear of the Scourge was. I really felt it. The same with how hungry--starving practically--the characters were at times. Masterful. Plotwise, this book was like a way better version of a short story I once wrote and a cool-looking but no good dystopian book I DNFed earlier this year. That said, I called 93% of it, but the super surprising 7% was awesome. Plus banter. *is still blown away* *like an autumn leaf* Speaking of BANTER, my weakness, by the way… Boy, was it in this book! I wish I could type some in here for you, but I’m afraid this review would get waaaay too long. ;) Broken needles, Ani’s singing, Weevil’s unique greetings to her… And let’s not forget that clever argument about who was the worse friend that suddenly turned too real and cruel and heartbreaking. *cries* Ani and Weevil’s friendship was one of my favorites I’ve read about in a long time. Balancing each other, working together, loyalty, occasionally arguing, hard truths, sweet moments. Let’s just say Ani’s lock picking metaphor was perfect. When I read the author’s note and found out how she’d based their friendship on the song “500 Miles”, I just about squealed. <3 <3 I also liked some of the side characters, and the personal challenge Della posed to Ani was quite interesting. Just a note, rebellious attitudes and stealing are redefined (i.e. “stealing” as “borrowing”, though someone called that out for what it was once). There were also some medical details, but fortunately, these were not described very much. Also, one very sweet kiss between teenagers. Altogether, this was an enjoyable read! I look forward to trying more from this author. ;) (And I might grab you all a couple quotes later. ;) )

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kailyn Kausen

    Jennifer A Nielson is one of my favorite, if not my absolute favorite, authors. I have to admit though that I was not impressed with this book. I had difficulty identifying the age of the characters because the writing seemed targeted at middle grade kids, but some content signaled a YA audience. So maybe a transition age? But then I also had some other problems with this book, including there was still a lot of information being handed to me up past page 100 and Nielson would point out things t Jennifer A Nielson is one of my favorite, if not my absolute favorite, authors. I have to admit though that I was not impressed with this book. I had difficulty identifying the age of the characters because the writing seemed targeted at middle grade kids, but some content signaled a YA audience. So maybe a transition age? But then I also had some other problems with this book, including there was still a lot of information being handed to me up past page 100 and Nielson would point out things the reader would feel excited to figure out for something later in the book. I wasn't surprised by anything, but I am older than the age group so maybe someone younger would have been shocked by something that happened. I loved Weevil, but I didn't care for Ani, Della, or any of the other characters. Perhaps I would have liked Ani more if the story started elsewhere - if we got a taste of her family and home life, her pranks with Weevil - before she was capture and accused of having the Scourge. I mean, I did enjoy it and read it in, like, three days. It was not a bad book, I just expected more from Nielson.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rikke

    The story really grows on you as you follow Ani and Weevil, (who are great friends by the way,) as they are forced to uncover the vile truth behind the scourge firsthand. The story is fairly fast paced and rather entertaining, but also a little to obvious in regards to plot twists; possibly because they are hinted at numerous times beforehand. Yet, I would happily recommend it to middle graders, although it won't likely be the first novel to spring to mind. Still, it's a decent read, and enterta The story really grows on you as you follow Ani and Weevil, (who are great friends by the way,) as they are forced to uncover the vile truth behind the scourge firsthand. The story is fairly fast paced and rather entertaining, but also a little to obvious in regards to plot twists; possibly because they are hinted at numerous times beforehand. Yet, I would happily recommend it to middle graders, although it won't likely be the first novel to spring to mind. Still, it's a decent read, and entertaining enough to be worthwhile, even if you're older. Also it has a nice take on friendship, and on fighting for what you believe in.

  10. 5 out of 5

    PotatOtter

    ⚠️SPOILERS AHEAD⚠️ STARRIES: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 Four. Yellow. Starries. There is so much I need to say, I can’t say it all out. If you understand that you’re probably gonna understand the rest of this review. *clears throat* Characters In 2 Words Or More: Earned 3.5 stars Ani: Fearless The first word to come to my mind is fearless, and I do say she is extremely fearless. I would flip if there were snakes in front of me and I was put in a cage with them instead of them living their own lives. Yeah, I’m a juicy, ⚠️SPOILERS AHEAD⚠️ STARRIES: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 Four. Yellow. Starries. There is so much I need to say, I can’t say it all out. If you understand that you’re probably gonna understand the rest of this review. *clears throat* Characters In 2 Words Or More: Earned 3.5 stars Ani: Fearless The first word to come to my mind is fearless, and I do say she is extremely fearless. I would flip if there were snakes in front of me and I was put in a cage with them instead of them living their own lives. Yeah, I’m a juicy, bloody filled brown meat with a lot of juice for you to drink and suck on which would fill you up for days, but seriously, is that yummy to you? Weevil: AWW MAN and adventurous (i’ll explain later on the 2 usages of words) AWW MAN is a very lowly used word. Wait, words. Anyotter, AWW MAN is very lowly used and yet it goes perfectly with Weevil. I know he is adventurous, and that is a word that goes with him because of his personality with Ani. But-yes, there is a but-his name is the only other reason for the other word. Weevil. I searched it up and I found it was a BUGS name. *claps teasingly* Glad I’m not named after a bug. Thank you mommy and daddy, thank you!! Della: Princess Well, well, well. Lookie here, Draco Malfoy! We got a victim for ya, who speaks quite like you too. The fight will go on and on and I’ll just sit here, staring at you hot heads. But if you don’t call Della a princess, she’ll definitely turn on you. If you keep your mouth shut, she won’t say a single word to you. It’s your choice, man. *Draco talks like charlie brown’s teacher* Oh, you say you do wanna fight? *grabs popcorn* I’m here, just wish I could pause this and get my gummies. . .and my socks. . .and my red gatorade. . . Jonas: prince for the princess A perfect match, I’d say so too. A grub marrying a pinchworm. Great. But I do believe I heard this name somewhere. . .oh, it was The False Prince, which I recommend highly if you haven’t read it yet. Jaron and Jonas. Yeah, it isn’t similar at all. . .nevermind! At least his name is better than Weevil’s. . .even Della agrees. And Ani, but I guess she isn’t saying to her future husband this ideal stuff. Plot: Earned 4 Stars (view spoiler)[So what basically happens is Ani is found plucking a vinefruit, of which she wants to eat. Wardens find her and a guy named Brogg(sounds like ‘frog’, I know) takes her to test whether she has the Scourge or not. She ‘does’ and tries to escape with her future husband, Weevil. And Weevil goes in another direction, leaving poor Ani alone. But that’s the catch: she ISN’T alone. She’s with Della, and with her hot-headed temper, blamed Ani for touching her escape boat. Ani touched her and the wardens took her as well. Della made a huge fuss about it and ugh, I just hated her then. And then, Ani finds a life changing thing. . . (hide spoiler)] Nothing more in my hands, folks. Too many spoilers and I will definitely get kicked for spoiling too much from my brain. Yes, it doesn’t have legs, but people, I’m NOT being sarcastic. I am being REAL. BUT not real. Ugh, it is so hard to explain verbally, lemme go search the internet. . .a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g., rain cats and dogs, see the light ). - Oxford Languages *dusts self off* You did great, remember you are always awesome just the way you are! (view spoiler)[*walks away from mirror* (hide spoiler)]

  11. 4 out of 5

    Angie Thompson

    Kay, I really, really enjoyed this story. :) The concept was really unique--sort of dystopian crossed with kingdom adventure/non-magical fantasy. The conflict between the townsfolk and the River People was set up really well, and even though it took a while to figure out everything that was happening, the feeling that something wasn't quite right was strong from the first. I loved Ani's narrator voice--her dry, understated humor, her habit of glossing over the the truth, and the way she always ca Kay, I really, really enjoyed this story. :) The concept was really unique--sort of dystopian crossed with kingdom adventure/non-magical fantasy. The conflict between the townsfolk and the River People was set up really well, and even though it took a while to figure out everything that was happening, the feeling that something wasn't quite right was strong from the first. I loved Ani's narrator voice--her dry, understated humor, her habit of glossing over the the truth, and the way she always came back with the real truth after she'd glossed things over. She was definitely a pistol, but she didn't feel like the type of "strong female lead" that usually annoys me. She's reckless, stubborn, and snarky, but she's got a very caring spirit under all that toughness, and she's not afraid to let it show. The friendship between Ani and Weevil was absolutely my favorite part of the book! The obvious care and concern for each other that they don't try to hide, the adorable banter that I feel funny calling banter because it's so gentle and precious, their way of keeping each other strong and balancing each other's strengths and weaknesses--it does not get any better. <3<3<3 (view spoiler)[And I was so, so glad that all the potentially-friendship-threatening drama and honesty happened near the beginning! Also, that scene just about had me in tears, and the following one was probably the sweetest in the book. <3 (hide spoiler)] The other supporting characters were well-done and diverse, and I liked the glimpses of depth we had in many of them. The plot was full of twists and turns, and nothing was ever as easy as it was supposed to be (which wasn't easy in the first place), but without making me want to scream from the suspense. ;) I did notice a few small inconsistencies (but I'm rather more of a stickler for inconsistencies than most). (view spoiler)[At one point, we're told that the former Scourge survivors who tried to return were sent back to the island, but then Ani and the governor say they were executed? Maybe they were executed on the island, but if so, that's not explained and seems at odds with some of the other details. Some of the talk about how Weevil's dad was taken away seems contradictory in different places. And in the final scene, Marjorie shows up in the crowd, when she was left on the ship. Like I said, tiny stuff. (hide spoiler)] The only other things that bugged me were never being told Ani and Weevil's ages (or anyone's, for that matter) and the constant use of "amongst", which felt oddly old-fashioned compared to the rest of the style. 4.5 stars Content--insults and name-calling; mentions of stealing and picking locks; a few mentions of cursing (no words); one use of "may the gods help me"; mentions of kissing (not descriptive); mentions of beatings and other punishments; disgusting food compared to animal droppings

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alaina

    HOW HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF THIS BOOK UNTIL NOW? The Scourge was bittersweet to me. Yes, I enjoyed the heck out of this book, the plot, and the characters. YET, I'm so sad that it is a standalone. Ugh, WHY?!? Especially with that ending I was hoping for another book. Like, come on - I need another book (or two) to satisfy me! That being said, I still enjoyed this. I loved the adventure and the world building throughout the book. Plus, the characters were written so freaking well. If I could, I would HOW HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF THIS BOOK UNTIL NOW? The Scourge was bittersweet to me. Yes, I enjoyed the heck out of this book, the plot, and the characters. YET, I'm so sad that it is a standalone. Ugh, WHY?!? Especially with that ending I was hoping for another book. Like, come on - I need another book (or two) to satisfy me! That being said, I still enjoyed this. I loved the adventure and the world building throughout the book. Plus, the characters were written so freaking well. If I could, I would recommend the audio because I loved the narrators so much! Mostly because I know if I read the book I would be mispronouncing every little thing throughout this book. Now onto the flaws - yes, this book had some. I just feel like not a whole lot was explained.. for example, the herbs found in various parts of the two countries. It was hard to believe that something would only grow in one little plant.. in one place.. and then never be found again. Then some of the conflicts didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.. but I just went with it. Again, these are some of the reasons as to why I thought I was going to get another book. In the end, I enjoyed it and can't wait for my next adventure!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Issabelle Perry

    Okay, this is DEFINITELY going on my list of favorites from Jennifer Nielsen. Which to be honest, is quite a long list, cuz I have a REALLY hard time NOT enjoying something from her!! BUT this story, y'all, it was just AMAZING!!! The message really tugged at my heart and seemed to fit SO WELL for the times we're living in. (And I'm not just saying that because of the Scourge being this whole disease thing and people being quarantine thing... I mean if I were to describe this story in one sentenc Okay, this is DEFINITELY going on my list of favorites from Jennifer Nielsen. Which to be honest, is quite a long list, cuz I have a REALLY hard time NOT enjoying something from her!! BUT this story, y'all, it was just AMAZING!!! The message really tugged at my heart and seemed to fit SO WELL for the times we're living in. (And I'm not just saying that because of the Scourge being this whole disease thing and people being quarantine thing... I mean if I were to describe this story in one sentence, I would describe it as if 2020 happened in a medieval setting in a fantasy world and we had people as awesome as Ani and Weevil, well, then you would have The Scourge. And this book was written in 2016, so, seriously, HOW DID NIELSEN DO THAT?????!!!!) Full review to come. (*cough* hopefully.)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pranta Ghosh Dastider

    Beware of the land Where enemy is bright, For townspeople and river-folks The Scourge has come alike. When I started this book, I was sure I was going to like it. Since, Jeni Neilsen has never let me down, this was a must. The question was how much was I going to enjoy it? And to be honest, I wish I could enjoy it more. But, the amount of joy I got was alright. The story starts with all of her books, with a mischievous character, a good supporting friend and villain. Here on top of all these t Beware of the land Where enemy is bright, For townspeople and river-folks The Scourge has come alike. When I started this book, I was sure I was going to like it. Since, Jeni Neilsen has never let me down, this was a must. The question was how much was I going to enjoy it? And to be honest, I wish I could enjoy it more. But, the amount of joy I got was alright. The story starts with all of her books, with a mischievous character, a good supporting friend and villain. Here on top of all these there was an extra foe, and that is the Scourge. The Scourge is a disease, which spread 300 years back, was vanished mysteriously and now since very recently came back again. And it's supposedly incurable. All of the Scourge effected person goes to the isolated land (read prison) in the middle of nowhere. And what happens there is a mystery, but no one ever comes back. So people assume they die out eventually. At the very beginning of the story our main protagonist Ani, gets caught and taken forcefully for the test which shall determine her future, whether she is infected by Scourge or not. Her best friend Weevil willingly tags along trying to rescue her. One things turns to another and they are in for the biggest adventure of their life! I don't honestly know why people call this book a fantasy? Why? This has no fantasy element. None did Jeni Neilsen's Ascendance Trilogy. But I think even the author calls it fantasy! I am really puzzled. Personally I don't feel calling it fantasy, since nothing was imaginary besides the lands (which can't be counted since there was nothing out of ordinary in these lands). Oh and there were two weeds/leafs that were invented. And that's where fantasy end. It's complete drama and adventure. And even without being a fantasy it's great as The Ascendance trilogy was. The greatest thing about this book was the friendship between Weevil and Ani. It so perfectly described and portrayed that it became one of my favorite friendships in the world of fiction. Yes I have read the friendship between Potter and Ron, I have also read the friendship between Grover and Percy; but Weevil and Ani was better, I think. The villain was bad, as villains should be, but worst was one of her wardens. It's like the baddest bad has been beaten by her underling. For a while the story did seem a little bit dragged, but it was always fun to read. even if I could guess many things overall I couldn't guess how it will end. Until the last one fourth of the story it felt impossible to finish in one book, but Jeni made miracle possible. Overall I would say, it doesn't matter if you can guess the twists or not. For me what matters most if you enjoy a book or not. If you enjoy a book and can read it again and again, then it's better than the obscure book you can read once and discover all the mysteries and never have to read again. If you enjoy reading about great characters and want to have fun even out of a dire situation, this is a perfect book for you.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    This one is definitely fantasy, set in a sort of medievalish world plagued not only by disease but by divisive class wars. Not as action packed as the author's other works. This one is definitely fantasy, set in a sort of medievalish world plagued not only by disease but by divisive class wars. Not as action packed as the author's other works.

  16. 5 out of 5

    ashley nicole

    First off, I just want to say how much I love Jennifer Nielsen's writing in general. I love the wit she puts into her books and this book was no exception. From the beginning, we hear snarky remarks from both Ani and Weevil (who just happen to be perfect for each other *heart eyes*) that at times made me laugh out loud. I loved the friendship between these two as well, which eventually buds into romance. Their devotion to each other is so heart-warming! And then there's Della. Her addition to the First off, I just want to say how much I love Jennifer Nielsen's writing in general. I love the wit she puts into her books and this book was no exception. From the beginning, we hear snarky remarks from both Ani and Weevil (who just happen to be perfect for each other *heart eyes*) that at times made me laugh out loud. I loved the friendship between these two as well, which eventually buds into romance. Their devotion to each other is so heart-warming! And then there's Della. Her addition to the story brought a lot of twists, and it was cool watching her character develop. "They're younger than I expected. They couldn't have caused all that trouble." I lowered my eyes and tried not to defend myself, to insist that, in fact, I hadn't yet reached my full potential for causing chaos and general mayhem.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Skip

    Maybe 3.5 stars. Ani and Weevil are best friends from the lower caste River People; however, their people are blamed for a terrible disease (the Scourge.) Anyone with the disease is banished to a island prison to avoid contamination, but the truth is something different as Ani and Weevil discover. I found the first half of the book kind of slow, but liked the pacing in the second half. Also, I thought the world building was subpar, especially in comparison to the richness of Nielsen's Ascendance Maybe 3.5 stars. Ani and Weevil are best friends from the lower caste River People; however, their people are blamed for a terrible disease (the Scourge.) Anyone with the disease is banished to a island prison to avoid contamination, but the truth is something different as Ani and Weevil discover. I found the first half of the book kind of slow, but liked the pacing in the second half. Also, I thought the world building was subpar, especially in comparison to the richness of Nielsen's Ascendance Trilogy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    With each book she writes, my love for Jennifer A. Nielsen deepens. She writes in a way the hooks the reader and keeps the pages turning, needing to know what happens to the amazing characters she creates. The Scourge is another must have for your classroom library! Readers will love the spunkiness of Ani and the loyalty of the friendship she shares with Weevil!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lily Yu

    Wow, wow, wow!!! Another AMAZING book from Jennifer A. Nielsen!!!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Dragina

    4.5 stars ~ You know that feeling you get after you read a good book and you stare into space awhile replaying your favorite scenes? Yeah? That's how I feel. It's a good feeling. Was there anything I disliked? Ummmm . . . . *shifts eyes* Yyyyeeessss.... maybe? *sigh* If I'm being honest that ending shattered my dreams of giving this book full 5 stars. Let me tell you why. . . Chapter 46 was good, intense, and fulfilling. Then chapter 47 comes along and rushes you into a crash landing. All the sud 4.5 stars ~ You know that feeling you get after you read a good book and you stare into space awhile replaying your favorite scenes? Yeah? That's how I feel. It's a good feeling. Was there anything I disliked? Ummmm . . . . *shifts eyes* Yyyyeeessss.... maybe? *sigh* If I'm being honest that ending shattered my dreams of giving this book full 5 stars. Let me tell you why. . . Chapter 46 was good, intense, and fulfilling. Then chapter 47 comes along and rushes you into a crash landing. All the sudden everything's all right and it's many years later--NO!! That's what an epilogue is for, Jennifer. The LAST chapter is for settling down the characters, and giving the reader a goodbye taste. Then the epilogue let's the reader know everything is perfect. Endings make or break a book for me, and sadly . . . this one hurt my writer side. :P Setting ~ Yes. Yes. Yes. It was perfect. Nothing I can think of would have made it any better. It subtly added beauty and thrill to Jennifer's words. That, my friend, is what a setting is supposed to do. Romance ~ Absolutely adorable and encouraged. 😍 Nothing icky about it. Plot ~ It was twisty. *forced laugh* Although mostly predictable. I didn't mind though, because I wasn't reading for the plot . . . . I was reading for Ani and Weevil. Description ~ I can give Jennifer Nielsen a full five stars for details. She did absolutely amazing. The only other person who's earned five stars in the detail section from me (as far as I can recall) is Robin McKinley. So all the hearts for Nielsen. The magic of her description added to the plot and setting twisting into the fantastic world where Ani lives. Content ~ Horrible sickness. Violence. Poison. Beatings. Snakes. ;P XD I'm not bothered by any of it, but I'd say 10 year-olds could read it. Characters ~ 😻 Honestly I can't say anything to make them more grand then they already are. The relationships are strong and encouraging. The friendship between Weevil and Ani is astounding and perfect. Then when Jennifer brought side characters into play the adventure became far more exciting then I thought possible. This book astounded me in many ways, but most of which are her abilities to craft characters that I can't identify with, then make me love them. Ani ~ She is so unlike any character I have met before that I instantly knew I liked her, if just because of her uniqueness. She doesn't introduce herself the same ways as other characters. . . she's not shy and quietly comes out of her shell, revealing her secrets over time. . . and she doesn't explode into your face saying, "Here I am, these are my qualities." No. Ani makes you think you know her, then she captures you in trouble, before revealing she's a cunning little fox with the patience of a spider, the inner strength of a lion, the courage of a badger, the ferocity of a mother hippo, the determination of a cheetah, the trickery of a monkey, the playfulness of a dolphin, and the voice of a devil. Meet Ani. Also she possesses the sarcastic wit of a teenager. 😂 Weevil ~ Well he's the one who unmakes all Ani's messes. xD The best friend in the whole world and a stubborn, prideful guide. Yes, I daresay he's the best friend anyone could ask for. Jonas ~ Wow. 😻 Also (spelling it backwards) woW. *dances around* River People are the best. Della ~ What an interesting little character. She is definitely abnormal as well. Survival makes some people crazy. 😾 Overall ~ I'm reading more Jennifer Nielsen. That's all you need to know. Perhaps you should read some too. Quotable Parts?? Um. *screams* Yes. Let me share some, because quite frankly they are hilarious and I love Ani's wit. ~ "I don't mean to be rude, but that truly is the most horrible sound I've ever heard. Sort of like a chicken's dying squawk. Only that ends--yours just goes on and on. And then on and on some more, like you don't even need air while creating that blasphemy of noise." ~ ~ "It's fruit juice you fool. The pit is somewhere beneath your feet, and the approximate size of your brain I'd guess. Let me go and I'll find it." ~ ~ "It's pinchworm food anyway. No taste to it." ~ ~ "Actually, we avoid cleanliness, our smell keeps you pinchworms away." He smiled, though it instantly darkened. "With that attitude, I bet you don't last a weak here, grub." "Your pronouncing that word wrong. It's not 'grub'; it's 'Ani.' Hear the difference?" ~ ~ "Don't worry! These wardens are as weak as my little sister." ~ ~ "Ani. You keep calling me grub, but my name is Ani." "Your name is grub." "My name is Ani." ~ ~ "So," he causally said, "which catastrophe was you? Did you start the fire or destroy the entire west half of the infirmary?" ~ ~ "Walk faster, filthy grubs!" "You know, Jonas, coming from a filthy grub like you, that hurts my feelings." ~

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    When Ani is captured by the government and tested for the deadly plague that has swept through the land she is shocked. But, she knows she doesn't have it. She knows they'll have to let her go, but when the test comes back positive she is shocked. Sent to Attic Island, Ani is now among all the others who have been infected with the scourge to live out the rest of their painful lives. Until slowly, Ani begins to discover what is going on. The Scourge is not a book that leaves a lasting impression When Ani is captured by the government and tested for the deadly plague that has swept through the land she is shocked. But, she knows she doesn't have it. She knows they'll have to let her go, but when the test comes back positive she is shocked. Sent to Attic Island, Ani is now among all the others who have been infected with the scourge to live out the rest of their painful lives. Until slowly, Ani begins to discover what is going on. The Scourge is not a book that leaves a lasting impression. The characters and plot are forgettable. What sounded like an interesting premise turned not only boring but all too predictable leaving me wishing for it to end even faster and annoyed at the characters since they couldn't seem to figure it out themselves. The relationship between Ani and Weevil was nice. They did have a close bond and really relied on one another which I thought was wonderful, but even their relationship couldn't make up for the lack of everything else in this book. There was a nice theme of learning about people from other backgrounds and not judging them as all the same person with the same stereotypical faults and such, which I'm sure would be a good lesson for individuals who can pick up on it. The Scourge sounded like it had a promising premise, but with the predictable plot and forgettable characters, it falls entirely flat.

  22. 5 out of 5

    aj

    I was horribly disappointed by this book. I loved Jennifer Nielsen's other fantastic books, especially the Ascendance Trilogy, but this book was . . . boring. And I didn't care for Ani or Weevil. Perhaps it was too rushed, or I just didn't have enough time to actually care. I don't know. But I found myself speeding through the book not because I couldn't tear myself away but because I wanted it done and over with. False Prince is so much better. Oh, and this book is the most predictable thing in the I was horribly disappointed by this book. I loved Jennifer Nielsen's other fantastic books, especially the Ascendance Trilogy, but this book was . . . boring. And I didn't care for Ani or Weevil. Perhaps it was too rushed, or I just didn't have enough time to actually care. I don't know. But I found myself speeding through the book not because I couldn't tear myself away but because I wanted it done and over with. False Prince is so much better. Oh, and this book is the most predictable thing in the world! All the "plot twists" were so mudding obvious that I wanted to smack Ani for not realizing it! Also, how come the main characters ALWAYS believe the bad guys?? I mean, they're BAD GUYS, right? Shouldn't you doubt their ever word if they're the horrible people you think they are? Surely murderers and thieves and traitors wouldn't mind to LIE to your mudding face. Ugh. Obvious and simple characters. Boring. Or maybe I'm just too "grown up" now that I've read "higher up" books. Don't hate me because I dislike this book, please. It's really not good at all compared to the False Prince.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kian Aleman

    Well that wasn't the greatest, and it took a while to get started, but once it did it never really stopped. (3.5 stars) I probably set my hopes too high because of how much I loved The False Prince, but this just...wasn't as great? Not that much really happened until the very end, and the conclusion was so rushed, it didn't quite seem like it was over. But it was definitely a fun book! (also, I aggressively headcanon Weevil as black. Nothing can ever change my mind.) Well that wasn't the greatest, and it took a while to get started, but once it did it never really stopped. (3.5 stars) I probably set my hopes too high because of how much I loved The False Prince, but this just...wasn't as great? Not that much really happened until the very end, and the conclusion was so rushed, it didn't quite seem like it was over. But it was definitely a fun book! (also, I aggressively headcanon Weevil as black. Nothing can ever change my mind.)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    3.5 stars Really bounced between rounding up or rounding down for the rating. But as I won't ever reread this, I don't think it requires the full four stars. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it - I did. But it wasn't a great favorite. A clean and entertaining tale, recommended for older MG and younger YA readers. 3.5 stars Really bounced between rounding up or rounding down for the rating. But as I won't ever reread this, I don't think it requires the full four stars. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it - I did. But it wasn't a great favorite. A clean and entertaining tale, recommended for older MG and younger YA readers.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Page Morgan

    I really liked Ani and her friend, Weevil, as well as the premise (though I did have the plot twist more or less figured out less than a quarter of the way into the story). Ani was a strong main character with a great voice. I haven't read the author's other books yet, but I will definitely do so now. I really liked Ani and her friend, Weevil, as well as the premise (though I did have the plot twist more or less figured out less than a quarter of the way into the story). Ani was a strong main character with a great voice. I haven't read the author's other books yet, but I will definitely do so now.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Reviews May Vary

    Enjoyed this middle grade book about a girl who is on a mission to find a cure for the infection that has been ravaging her town. A little predictable if you read All The Books; a good one for the more casual reader.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    ARC from ALA Summary: Jennifer Nielsen writes another solid middle grades action-adventure pitched to please a wide audience of readers. Clear character development and social themes make this book rewarding for younger readers; I would have liked to have seen the plotting a little tighter and the book a little shorter. Review: Ani Mells is a River Person of Keldan. The townspeople look down on the nature-based ways of the river people and call them “grubs,” for Ani, the townspeople are the “pinch ARC from ALA Summary: Jennifer Nielsen writes another solid middle grades action-adventure pitched to please a wide audience of readers. Clear character development and social themes make this book rewarding for younger readers; I would have liked to have seen the plotting a little tighter and the book a little shorter. Review: Ani Mells is a River Person of Keldan. The townspeople look down on the nature-based ways of the river people and call them “grubs,” for Ani, the townspeople are the “pinchworms” and are universally deserving of contempt and scorn. Ani, is kidnapped by Wardens of the Governor Nerysa Felling of Keldan and is tested for the Scourge, a deadly illness spreading across Keldan. Ani isn’t the only one being tested -- Della Willoughby, the daughter of a politician seeking to oust Governor Felling, is captured and tested as well. Della is the ultimate pinchworm of pinchworms -- she’s from a wealthy and powerful family and appears high maintenance to Ani. When both test positive for a disease they didn’t know they had, they are sent to a prison island. Ani’s best friend, Weevil, desperate to rescue Ani, ends up faking ill so that he can help her escape. Ani’s resistance and sleuthing around leads her to learn a lot more about the Scourge, and she learns other lessons along the way. * Honestly, I’m sick of stories about plagues, and I found the characters in this one a little too hollow. Weevil is too much of a selfless hero do-gooder and Ani’s antics make for amusing characterization, but they also ring empty to my reader ears. Ani’s one of those characters who can get herself into trouble countless times and always finds a way out, something that tends to annoy me but can entertain readers. I think readers will be able to draw parallels between the River People and other oppressed cultures and communities in today’s world. Ani’s transformation -- that she eventually learns how to see the “pinchworms” as individuals and learns to drop the hateful term -- gives readers a clear moral to read for, even though it’s a moral I’m sure they’ve all heard before. Learn to see people as individuals instead of broadly stereotyping them into groups, etc. etc. Nielsen doesn’t come across as too preachy with this message, and I think the readers who are just learning how to read for themes will be proud of themselves for spotting this change, but for more experienced readers, these ideas might appear a little ham-fisted. Given how much my readers tend to like Jennifer Nielsen, I’m happy to put this one in their hands. I don’t think they’ll be disappointed.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    It is no secret that I’m a big fan of Jennifer Nielson and her books. From the first page of The False Prince, I was hooked by the way she spins a tale, throwing you right into the action with characters you can’t help but love and root for. The Scourge is no different, pitting the sassy and irreverent Ani Mells against impossible situations. As you’d expect from one of Nielsen’s characters, Ani does not play by the rules and she never goes down without a fight. Ani is gutsy and smart—truly a ch It is no secret that I’m a big fan of Jennifer Nielson and her books. From the first page of The False Prince, I was hooked by the way she spins a tale, throwing you right into the action with characters you can’t help but love and root for. The Scourge is no different, pitting the sassy and irreverent Ani Mells against impossible situations. As you’d expect from one of Nielsen’s characters, Ani does not play by the rules and she never goes down without a fight. Ani is gutsy and smart—truly a character I’d love to hang out with, which brings me to what I loved most about this book: Ani’s friendship with Weevil. They’ve been friends for a long time and it’s evident on the page how close they are through their very witty banter. But nowhere is it more evident how they feel about each other than in the contest of sorts when they try to prove which one is the worse friend. I’m not going to spoil it here, but trust me when I say it’s both funny and heart wrenching. How can you not love a book where there are passages like this one (taken from the ARC): “The old legends say that the River People came from the union of a mermaid who had swum too far inland and a handsome young farmer who rescued her. Though I didn’t put much faith in most of the old stories, I believed this one. It explained why I had a singing voice that made people want to drown themselves. It also explained why all River People were excellent swimmers.” The Scourge is funny, clever, and thought-provoking, as well as a fun adventure with characters you can’t help but wish were your friends.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Avery (ThePagemaster)

    Ever since the Ascendance/False Prince Trilogy, Nielsen has grown to become one of my favorite authors. Then, she came out with her historical fiction debut, A Night Divided, which, despite not being as breathtaking as the FP Trilogy, it did have a lot of impact and another recommend. Now, The Scourge delves back into the fantasy niche that attracted me towards Nielsen, but a standalone and not a trilogy/series. The inspiration for this novel was what made me love this book a little more than the Ever since the Ascendance/False Prince Trilogy, Nielsen has grown to become one of my favorite authors. Then, she came out with her historical fiction debut, A Night Divided, which, despite not being as breathtaking as the FP Trilogy, it did have a lot of impact and another recommend. Now, The Scourge delves back into the fantasy niche that attracted me towards Nielsen, but a standalone and not a trilogy/series. The inspiration for this novel was what made me love this book a little more than the actual story; it's inspired by leper colonies that use to, or might possibly still, exist around the world: For those that don't know, when you come in contact with leprosy, first hand or second, you are transported to an island or community, isolated from the main population until you are cured or the disease consumes you and, unfortunately, die. Put that in a more medieval setting, you have The Scourge. The only, minor problem with this book is that with a standalone, fantasy novel, you can only have so much character development. With Ani and Weevil, Della and Marjorie, though their characters were fleshed out to a degree I was satisfied and kept me interested, there were some misses and some cliches I picked out, like, a couple of times. But my pros definitely outweigh the only, microscopic con of this book. This book did end somewhat quick, but it did feel more natural than just "...and they lived happily ever after. THE END." A quick read that shows you don't need 500+ pages to write a fantasy novel. Still a huge fan of Jennifer A. Nielsen.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Serene Feng

    *5 full stars* Oh my. Oh my!! I'm so in love with Jennifer Neilsen's books!! I've never read anything quite like her style of writing. I usually don't like books with a dystopia theme, but The Scourge sure was an exception. I absolutely loved how one of the book's main focuses was around friendship, and how Ani kept being hopeful even though everything was so wrong. The friendship Ani has with Weevil is beautiful. It reminds me time after time again what true friendship means. Sometimes I even wish *5 full stars* Oh my. Oh my!! I'm so in love with Jennifer Neilsen's books!! I've never read anything quite like her style of writing. I usually don't like books with a dystopia theme, but The Scourge sure was an exception. I absolutely loved how one of the book's main focuses was around friendship, and how Ani kept being hopeful even though everything was so wrong. The friendship Ani has with Weevil is beautiful. It reminds me time after time again what true friendship means. Sometimes I even wish I had a friend like Weevil! (view spoiler)[And if you'll allow me to say...I'm glad that there weren't too many romantic moments. There was only one, and that was the perfect number. I cringe every-time something romantic happens. The one time something romantic happened was really special, and I'm glad that it's there. (hide spoiler)]

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