Author: Shaunta Grimes
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publish Date: 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.”
Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes caught my eye from the moment I first saw the cover. A teenage girl standing on top of an abandoned car on the outskirts of an abandoned city with only a bulldog to keep her company? Um, yes please. Then when I started reading I realized that Viral Nation was a little more dystopian than post apocalyptic. In fact, it's actually more sci-fi than anything else.
Clover is the first autistic main character I've ever read about and I have to say, I loved her. She had her quirks, but being autistic was not a handicap for her, it was just a part of her. And I loved how the people around her, the people who knew her anyway, never treated her differently because of it. And I loved Clover's relationship with Jude. They are so cute together. Jude knows that he has to go slow with Clover, but after all of the things they go through together, you end up hoping things will pick up for their romance in the next book!
I especially enjoyed the dynamic between Clover and West. I always love a good sibling relationship in books, and West is just the sweetest. Since the POV changes between the two of them, you really get to see what they think of each other and how they depend on each other. West is so considerate of Clover's autism. He knows how to handle her when she gets worked up, but it's always constantly running through his head that he has to keep her calm, while not wanting to treat her like a small child. You can really tell that he's grown up taking care of her and he's incredibly mature for a twenty year old. I obviously have a bit of a crush on West!
I think the science fiction aspect of this book works so well because the characters are so real. They keep the story grounded, so even though there's this whole post-apocalyptic/time travel/dystopian thing happening, the characters and their reactions make it seem like it's something that could be happening right now.
Some of the time travel logic reminded me of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. It was kind of like "Okay in the future remember to put the keys behind this rock." Then they look behind the rock and woot! Keys! I've always loved time travel that works like that! But, unlike some other time travel stories, the plot never became convoluted or ridiculous. And I was left guessing until the very end.
If you love dystopians or science fiction, give Viral Nation a try. You won't be disappointed. In fact, you'll be waiting eagerly for the next book so you can find out what happens next!
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