02 July 2013

Viral Nation, by Shaunta Grimes

When the author reached out to review her book, my first inclination was to decline it simply because I have an almost 100% decline record in the past six months (resulting in an almost 100% pressure-free blog site). After all, I like reading books I want to read, old or new. However, what convinced me to accept this new Young Adult book was not the dystopian adventure of a world in which only 20,000 survived a virus in the United States, or that these survivors now live in walled cities within each state. It wasn't that the country was now run by the Company, who provides daily vaccines to keep the virus at bay. It also wasn't because there was time travel and a revolution led by kids. What convinced me to accept this book for review immediately was that the protagonist, a young sixteen-year-old girl named Clover, was autistic.

This uniqueness, rarely ever used in stories, was enough for me to accept immediately. And while I recently picked it up in anticipation for a much later July 30th review date, I ended up flying right through it in time to post today, the release date from The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group.

I was surprised by how swept up I was in the quest of Clover and her brother, West, to exist in this walled city. I was taken by West, who has been many things for Clover over the past few years, a combination of best friend, older brother, and guardian, especially as their mother died when Clover was a baby and their father now works for the Company. The relationship between the two is genuine, and West's ability to understand Clover at all times was a special indication of the protection he feels for her. I then became indignant and outraged by the bullies in the academy and their treatment towards Clover and her service dog, Mango, before she is then "drafted" into the Time Mariner program, destined for a life of time travel two years into the future to secure crucial details that haven't yet occurred. It's the only way to maintain a controlled society, yet also a safe one, as the details brought back provide details on everything to avoid the recurrence of the virus, or to protect a citizen from a violent crime. When Clover's brother is identified as a perpetrator of one of these violent crimes, it becomes up to Clover and a band of misfits, self-titled "freaks," to begin the process of building a revolution. While there were a lot of characters and relationships left unexplained, I trust this will smooth out in the next book.

Each chapter of this thrilling journey is led by a quotation from a former U.S. President sharing a theme of freedom, the foundation to their revolution. This creative story with an unexpected and natural hero is one I'll be looking forward to reading more of as the series continues.

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group
Release Date: 7/2/2013
Pages: 315

FTC Disclosure: I received a paperback copy via the publisher, by request of the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author
Shaunta Grimes has worked as a substitute teacher, a newspaper reporter, a drug court counselor, and a vintage clothing seller. No matter which direction she strays, however, she always comes back to storytelling. She lives in Reno with her family, where she writes, teaches, and perpetually studies at the University of Nevada.

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  1. Wow! This sounds like such a great read. I love that the author chose to make the protagonist a young girl with autism. And, I love that that is the reason you chose to read the book :) Great post about a book that I will most definitely be reading this summer!

  2. This sounds like a real page turner!

  3. Sounds great. The cover is awesome too.

  4. This is one of the only review copies I have accepted, too. I'm so glad you loved it! I actually forgot it's a series. Thanks for reminding me before I got too far into it. :)

  5. I just won a copy of this and I'm really excited about reading it. Glad to hear you liked it so much. It has all the elements I look for in a science fiction novel.