by Shaunta Grimes
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Source: eARC provided by Author for honest review.
After a virus claimed nearly the entire global population, the world changed. The United States splintered into fifty walled cities where the surviving citizens clustered to start over. The Company, which ended the plague by bringing a life-saving vaccine back from the future, controls everything. They ration the scant food and supplies through a lottery system, mandate daily doses of virus suppressant, and even monitor future timelines to stop crimes before they can be committed.
Brilliant but autistic, sixteen-year-old Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover’s refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. Instead, she is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future.
When one of Clover’s missions reveals that West’s life is in danger, the Donovans are shattered. To change West’s fate, they’ll have to take on the mysterious Company. But as its secrets are revealed, they realize that the Company’s rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. In saving her brother, Clover will face a more powerful force than she ever imagined and will team up with a band of fellow misfits and outsiders to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever.
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My Thoughts: Viral Nation is a dystopian novel with science fiction elements that starts off with a bang. A deadly virus is quickly killing off the entire human population. It is aggressive, unrelenting, and always deadly. Families have moved to areas of the country that are believed to be less populated in an effort to try to avoid contracting the virus. This is exactly what the Donovan family has done, and it seemed to be working until pregnancy complications brought the virus right to their doorstep. There is no hope. James Donovan is losing his wife, his children and he will soon follow. Grief stricken he takes matters into his own hands, when suddenly a cure is found, but is it to late to save his family? Needless to say the beginning of the story was strong and captured my attention. After the initial introduction, the story jumps forward 16 years. The Company runs the country now. Everyone must take a daily suppressant to keep the virus at bay. Your, job, education, your entire life is controlled by the Company. Clover Donovan is 16 years old. She has an eidetic memory. She also has autism, which makes her very nervous around crowds and in stressful situations. Her brother West has done what he has had to do in order to look after Clover, even working in the farms instead of going to the Academy or working at the Company. When Clover is accepted into the Academy, they are both thrilled. Clover can finally move on and James will now be able to start his training. Everything seems to be going great, but revelation of a future event changes everything. Clover, West, and their group of friends must make decisions that not only affect their life, but eventually, the lives of the entire population, as the truth is revealed and the lies they have been told are exposed. They are unsure who to trust, but a voice from the past that holds critical insight into the future guides them as they propel into a course of action that leads to a dangerous and uncertain future, a future in which they play a role that will change the course of the nation.
As stated above, this story starts out strong with a bang. When it jumps forward 16 years later, it slows down though, and I wasn't quite sure where it was going and kind of had to push through. About one-third of the way in, it captured my attention fully again, and I was caught up in the plot once again. As the story progresses, more secrets are revealed and there are twists and turns that gradually expose the conspiracy and lies that have wrapped themselves around the vaccine, the daily suppression injections, the future, the Company, Foster City, and the role children with autism play in it all. I really liked West and Clover, and Shaunta Grimes did an excellent job in writing Clover's character that gives you insight into autism and how it affects the individual, as well as the friends and family of that individual. The way she wove autism into the core of the story was creative and unique. She has painted a picture of a dystopian society set in a post-apocalyptic world, combined with a science fiction factor that involves time travel and insight into the future. This in turn controls how everything is handled in the present. Another character that I really loved is Jude, who is from Foster City, where the orphaned children live, who also plays a big role in the story. He is Clover's age, and her love interest. He leads a small group of children from Foster City who also join Clover, West, and Bridget, who is another key player. The secondary characters are all well-written and I enjoyed getting to know them, as well as the "bad guys," who I liked to dislike. There is a hint of romance in the story, but isn't the center of the story, yet it is just enough to give that story the romantic element that it needs.
The book ends leaving you wanting to know more, and setting the stage for what looks to be an action-packed and intense next installment. The stage is also set for the romance between Clover and Jude to continue to develop, and I look forward to seeing where that goes. If you are a fan of dystopia, then Viral Nation is definitely something you might want to check out. I enjoyed Viral Nation and I look forward to seeing where Shaunta Grimes takes this story and the characters in it in the sequel.
I’ve been many things. Some I was born with, or created in a permanent way. Like being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister. Some I created, and they stuck. Like being a teacher. Others came about out of some passion or another, and they come and go. Like being a rural Nevada newspaper reporter, or running a drug court treatment program, or starting an online vintage clothing store.
No matter what I do, though, I always come back to telling stories.
You can find me at the book and movie blog, Story Carnivores, that I write with my friend Brian Rowe. Also, come join the party on Twitter or Facebook. I also blog pretty regularly at Fierce Fatties.
I’d love to hear from you, too. You can reach me at email@example.com.