Sunday, December 15, 2013

Review: Viral Nation with Shaunta Grimes

Title: Viral Nation
Author: Shaunta Grimes
Series: Viral Nation, Book 1
Genre: Post Apocalyptic/Dystopia Young Adult
Release Date: 2 July 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.

Somehow when I was reading the blurb for this book before I requested it, I totally missed that there was time travel in it. That wouldn't have affected my request, but it would have likely made me understand a bit better more quickly. Time travel is a difficult concept to include in nearly any medium and handling it well is even more so. Viral Nation does a pretty damn good job of it. And it acknowledges the inherent issues with time travel - namely the time-loops that get created by knowing what's going to happen and how that can create inconsistencies in the timeline. I appreciated that, and it made me buy into the concept even when I didn't completely follow what was going on or how people knew what they knew.

This is a fascinating world. A virus has decimated the world - or perhaps just the US, it's not entirely clear - and there is now only one city in each state in the USA. The Company controls everything, and they're tyrannical. People are convicted of crimes they haven't yet committed and executed. There's a nightly curfew; the Company decides who does what and when; everything is rationed in no fair way. And the kicker? No one rebels against this. Just 16 years after living in this United States and I have a hard time believing that people would so easily accept this kind of rule. At least I want to hope that people would have a hard time accepting this. Even from the Company that saved their lives.

West and Clover were fantastic main characters. Even while I was frustrated with not understanding what was going on, or why certain things were rules, these two kept me invested and pushing through the book to find out what happens to them. I love how the two of them care for each other, are able to question and learn, and grow as people. They may have believed certain things their entire lives, but they aren't afraid to start questioning the truths they've always known; not afraid to admit to themselves that they might have been wrong.

Viral Nation was a strong start to this series. I admit I still have quite a few questions, but I'm so beyond interested in where things are going that I'm going to continue reading just as soon as I can get my hands on Rebel Nation.

Grade: B+

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