Title: Viral Nation
Author: Shaunta Grimes
Series: Viral Nation
Book #: 1
Reading Level: YA
Goodreads Rating: 3.97
Published: July 2nd, 2013.
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.
You know what, I read the summary and I thought "this sounds really cool, sure it's yet another dystopian novel but it sounds... different. Plus the cover? KICK ASS!". Turns out... I was completely right.
I love being right! Specially when it comes to titles I was hoping to love. I loved it. Viral Nation had all the ingredients of an ordinary dystopian novel and yet Shaunta Grimes succeed in making it extraordinary. I don't know if it was the time travelling (which was VERY COOL) or Clover, or the secret internet messages, probably a combination of all really, but it just sparked. It made me yearn for the next novel. That pretty kick ass cover sure helped as well.
Clover is a 16 year old autistic genius. She lives in a world destroyed by disease, and in order to survive she and the rest of the planet need to take a daily shot just to keep the deadly virus at bay. This is how the Company of Waverly-Stead controls all, by keeping them alive.
"The Company runs everything. Not just here, either. Everything, everywhere. Even in the places that pretend to be independent, because the Company supplies the suppressant. Waverly-Stead has more power than the government. More than any government has ever had. More than all of them combined now."
Clover was accepted into the Academy, which is basically the only university for the smartest/brightest of the bunch. Only once they interview her they turn her away. Instead she is in the track to become a Time Mariner, the people who go through the portal to travel through time 2 years into the future. All is well, sort of, until she breaks the rules and finds that in the future her brother will be blamed for the murder of the Academy's headmaster's daughter. Now she, West, and a merry band of misfits have to figure out how to save West, the headmaster's daughter, and themselves.
The whole concept was really cool. A time travelling dystopian novel. How kickass is that? The time travelling aspect is hard to wrap your head around, and I like that even the main character makes note of this. She knows it is a part of life, but it's hard to take it in stride. Every time they make a new decision or know something about the future it changes it slightly, creating a new parallel universe of sorts.
I think Clover's autism aspect was handled very well. It was a part of her, and the author didn't for one second slack on the job. I loved Clover's dog, Mango. He has as important a character as West and Jude. West is Clover's brother. The relationship between them two is definitely worth reading about. They are close, West practically raised Clover and he completely knows her and understands her, does everything to protect her while still not disappearing behind the protective brother character. He had his own personality, dreams, fears, everything. Jude on the other hand was dreamy. At the beginning he is a kid just trying to survive, but as the novel progresses his confidence grows and he becomes something else. I am definitely into Jude from two years into the future, and I saw a lot of him in the 16 year old version starting to shine through.
Viral Nation is very original and intriguing. The time travelling aspect was done right, even though it is a little hard to wrap your head around at first. Clover is a spectacular character with many quirks. She is very endearing, and her dog Mango is a character all to himself. The storytelling is very good, all in third person POV, and the pace is even. I cannot wait for the second instalment! Definitely a must read and fantastic debut.
ARC acquired via the author in exchange for an honest review.