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Black River Falls


Black River Falls

As far as science fiction novels go, BLACK RIVER FALLS is a definite game-changer. While reading the newest book by Jeff Hirsch, I found myself incredibly intrigued in the quarantined life of one Cardinal Cassidy. At first glance, I was quite apprehensive about looking into the life of a boy stuck with his former bully in a small, quarantined area, but I cannot stress enough how insightful BLACK RIVER FALLS truly is.

BLACK RIVER FALLS is written by Jeff Hirsch. The YA author has also written THE DARKEST PATH, THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE, MAGISTERIUM and 39 CLUES: Breakaway. When I first discovered that Jeff Hirsch had been involved in the 39 Clues series, I knew I was going to love BLACK RIVER FALLS. Because, like the rest of Hirsch's work, BLACK RIVER FALLS does not try to force itself to tell a story; rather, it takes its time as a uniquely methodical process in revealing the nature of its characters and the relevance of its plot. This is one aspect that made both 39 CLUES: Breakaway and BLACK RIVER FALLS truly enjoyable reads.

“BLACK RIVER FALLS...takes its time as a uniquely methodical process in revealing the nature of its characters and the relevance of its plot.”

BLACK RIVER FALLS follows the story of Cardinal Cassidy, a 17-year-old survivor of a mysterious, memory-erasing plague that struck his town of Black River. While not lethal, the plague has ravaged the local population; the town lives in quarantine, barely survives on rations and is constantly monitored by government officials. While Cardinal was not impacted by the virus, he still remains in the Quarantine Zone along with his family and former bully (who is now, coincidentally, his best friend and helps him look after a group of orphaned children). For a while, things are tranquil (or at least as tranquil as they can be, given the circumstances). But then all of that changes. A mysterious girl named Hannah appears, and a private corporation, Martison Vine, wishing to reopen Black River Falls takes control. Cardinal's easy life, from this moment forward, becomes much more complicated than even before the virus struck.

What I liked about BLACK RIVER FALLS was that it took its time in delivering the storyline. Nothing felt rushed, and the plot was expertly paced. Whenever a new character, like Hannah, was introduced, it was at a point in the storyline when it made sense. Additionally, I enjoyed how much like myself Cardinal was portrayed --- just a regular teenage boy. Despite being a science fiction novel, nothing felt extremely improbable or impossible, which contributed to a realistic and exciting read. If anyone enjoys sci-fi stories or even a good dystopian novel (the book is strongly reminiscent of favorites like THE MAZE RUNNER), you need to read BLACK RIVER FALLS. It was a great read, and had me questioning the importance of the past and whether or not I should dwell on what has happened in the past.

Reviewed by Chris C., Teen Board Member on July 18, 2016

Black River Falls
by Jeff Hirsch