Viral Nation is the first dystopian book I have enjoyed in a long time.
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 opens with a virus wiping out most of the world's population. I love a good apocalyptic virus so I was captured by Viral Nation right away. A suppressant for the virus was discovered when the main characters were very young so the focus is much more on the power held by the company who controls the suppressant than on the virus itself.
The main character (Clover) has autism which instantly sets her apart from all of the other YA characters I have ever encountered. Most of the characters were quite likeable, and since Viral Nation is the first book in a series, I get the impression we will learn a lot more about the "Freaks for Freedom" as the series progresses. Clover also has a service dog that assists her with her autism. I loved that. Even more so, I loved that Shaunta Grimes did not use the dog to toy with my emotions.
I'm excited that there is time travel in this series, but it doesn't work well for me yet. If I think about it too hard, I get a headache, but I was able to let go and just go with the flow most of time. In fact, I found Viral Nation pretty hard to put down.
As with most YA series books, I wish I would have gotten more of a complete story out of Viral Nation. That is starting to be a pretty huge gripe with me, but nevertheless, I am anxiously awaiting the next book and will definitely be carrying on with the series.
7/10: Recommended Read
Review copy provided by author via publisher