Series: Viral Nation, #1
Genres: Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic
Published by Berkley on July 2, 2013
Cover Artist: Blake Morrow
Reviewed by: Abigail
Kissing. References to child abuse
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.
VIRAL NATION is a startling dystopian featuring a protagonist with autism who travels through time. It's a tantalizing mix of Revolution and Minority Report with writing that makes you understand what it's like to share Clover's autism, and a story that sinks into your bones from the very first chilling page.
Creating unique characters in YA is becoming a harder and harder job for authors, but Shanta Grimes has done exactly that with Clover. It was utterly fascinating to slip into her head and experience the world the way she does, understand the uncontrollable tendencies that spring up when she's overwhelmed or anxious, and see the bluntness and missed social cues that all contribute to how real she felt.
Clover's brother West was no less interesting. He's had to be mother and father and therapist to Clover. Guardian and friend even at the expense of his own desires. It was so real watching him love her and want to shake her at the same time. The sibling relationship was every bit as authentic as it would have been without Clover's autism added to the mix, but her autism provides an extra layer of often uncomfortable reality to their situation.
And this world...it's really going to thrill fans of dystopian fiction. There is corruption and secrets and entire populations who have no idea what's really going on. It made reading VIRAL NATION an almost desperate experience because I could barely stand to see the way everything started to unfold. And that element of time travel never dominated the story or took it in a deep sci-fi direction, rather it was just a part of the world. VIRAL NATION is pretty thrilling and I can't wait for the sequel.
- Viral Nation