Edward Bloor’s latest, A Plague Year, takes a somber, sobering, yet ultimately hopeful look at the damage caused by meth. Set in Autumn 2001 in the small coal-mining town of Blackwater PA, A Plague Year is one freshman’s journal of the epidemic that swept through his town, turning people into zombies, thieves, and dead bodies all within a matter of months.
Tom’s always been focused on getting out of his depressing coal mining town, planning an escape to a college in Florida. But lately something’s not right in Blackwater: it’s always been a run-down town with few prospects for getting ahead, but now crime is on the rise and people are shoplifting cleaning products and cold remedies. Before long, the town is overrun with people strung out on meth, others are arrested (or killed) for cooking it, and every aspect of Tom’s life seems touched by this drug that only a few weeks before no one even knew about. While a part of Tom would like to stay focused on his plan to get out town, there’s a bigger part of him, partially inspired by the selfless heroism of the passengers on United Flight 93 that crashed nearby, that propels him to get involved and spearhead efforts to combat the ravages of this drug.
Tom’s journal documents the everyday people and the town of Blackwater, fleshing out some characters into realistic pictures of people you might know, which makes their downfall poignant and thought-provoking. Sometimes Bloor’s message feels heavy-handed and a few of the situations and characters seem a little far-fetched, especially if he’s striving for a realistic cautionary tale. But all in all, A Plague Year succeeds in capturing the bewildering onslaught of a drug epidemic and the power of individuals to save their own lives, families, and communities.
- Posted by Cori