Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes
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.
I enjoyed this book. I like Clover—and she can be a hard character to relate to. Being Autistic, she tends to say what she thinks, miss social cues, and behave inappropriately in public, but she has a good heart. When West’s life is threatened, she goes on the defensive to save him. She’s terrified of the world, cannot handle extreme social situations or stimulation, but is brave enough stand up for West.
The Freaks are a band of misfits, and I appreciate that in a novel. It’s not just your typical group of teenagers. They have all survived horrific things from abuse and abandonment, to the virus, to seeing the people they love die.
The story line is interesting, combining a virus, time travel, and a crooked government. At times, I found myself having to go back and reread because the action moved fast and was downplayed, so I’d miss what was happening. There’s a lot of information to follow, little clues that don’t go anywhere, things that seem important that aren’t.
Obviously, this is a series, so everything was not explained in the first book—and I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the ending. I feel like none of the questions I had at the beginning were answered and the story arc left me feeling a little disappointed.
The real gem of the story was the relationships between the characters.
I look forward to reading the rest of the series and figuring out what the heck is going on!
I received a galley e-copy of Viral Nation from Net Galley. All opinions are my own and I did not receive monetary or other incentive for my review.