Monday, 9 September 2013

Viral Nation (Viral Nation, #1) by Shaunta Grimes

Description from Goodreads:

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 was really excited when I noticed that my request for Viral Nation was accepted on NetGalley. I haven't read any post-apocalyptic books for a long time even though they usually end up being some of my favourite books. The idea of autistic main character also made me intrigued about the book as I don't recall reading any similar kind of books. There were so many fascinating elements that I knew I had to get my hands on the book. So, you can imagine my excitement as I started reading the book.

I really liked the main characters Clover and West whose point of views the readers were allowed to witness. As Clover is the autistic main character, I was slightly worried that Grimes couldn't write her convincingly. But that worry ended up being for nothing! The readers immediately notice how Clover is struggling with social situations and can't correctly interpret others' rhetorics or intentions, just like it usually happens to autistics.  However, it was nice to realise despite of everything that I was able to identify with her character. She feels compassion and love, and on top of this, she is a child genius with  her incredible memory. I was never left cold by her character.

West on the other hand was this protective and loyal big brother who had taken care of Clover as long as he could remember. However, he had to put his own dreams on hold as West always puts Clover's needs first. Writers tend to write the male characters in a very romanticised fashion, but it was really refreshing as West isn't perfect: he has problems with his aggression and he doesn't always handle situations related to violence in the best manner. 

Even though the plot isn't exactly original, I loved the corrupted society the book included. The nation has been swept away by the virus killing the majority of population, only leaving some hundreds of thousands people alive. The survivors now have established few cities surrounded by walls which prevent the citizens from leaving as they are told that here are only dangers waiting outside the city walls. I wish Grimes would have introduced more of the society and how the hierarchies work, even though we got a brief glance to the system. I was left with so many questions that I would have liked to gotten answers to.

But there was something which in the book that left me a bit cold. Well, if I'm being completely honest, more than a bit of cold. I usually enjoy reading books which include action and all sorts of dangers, but I don't feel like Viral Nation offered too many situations like that. Despite the fact that there were this constant atmosphere of fear, there weren't scenes which made my heart pound and want to read faster than I actually could. The plot in itself was good, but I didn't find it thrilling or suspenseful.

Viral Nation was a good read. It wasn't as good as I hoped it would be, but I did enjoy it. I tend to have too high expectations and this is probably why I end up disappointed with so many books. But I don't think it is actually correct to lower my expectations when I'm reading, is it? I think we all deserve books which we love unconditionally. Viral Nation just wasn't one of those books for me. 


  1. Aw, no. It's disappointing to read (I never know whether to say hear or read, since I'm not technically hearing anything, haha) that you didn't love this book. I certainly did!
    I didn't mind the fact that there weren't intense action scenes, because I felt like the story centred more on the characters, and their growth and voice. Which I love. I am a tad obsessed with real characters, and that's what I enjoyed most about Viral Nation. I felt like all the characters were pretty true to life.
    I agree with you about the fact that it would have been awesome to read/learn more about the dystopian setting - the hierarchy, who decides what etc etc. But there will probably be time for that in the second book. Do you think you'll read the sequel? :)
    Chiara @ Books For A Delicate Eternity

    1. I did also appreciate the fact that the book did concentrate on the characters more than average YA book does, but I do enjoy a splash of action as I feel like it keeps the readers on their toes. I think I want to try out the book too as I'm super interested in the society! :) It seems to twisted that I can't pass the chance to know more about it!


You can't see me, but I'm totally doing my happy dance as I read your comment!