Title: Viral Nation
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Goodreads Rating: 4.2 stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Content Rating: PG
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.
This was a really compelling dystopian novel that takes place in a future where most of the population of the world has been wiped out by a virus. Those remaining are led by The Company – an organization that provides everyone with daily doses of the vaccine and prevents crime via time travel. The Company employs people called Time Mariners who travel two years into the future. Any violent crime that is committed in the future is reported and the criminal is executed in the present, thereby preventing the crime from ever being committed.
What I loved:
- Clover. The main character of the book is Clover, a 16-year-old autistic girl who is incredibly intelligent (bordering on savant), if somewhat socially inept. I loved reading the book from her perspective because her viewpoint was often skewed in very interesting ways. Her perception of the world is different than the average person’s and it made for a unique read!
- Criminals executed based on future crimes. No, it’s not that I really like executions, but I thought that this was a very interesting and unique concept. What if we really could stop crimes before they even occurred? If someone was found guilty of a crime in the future, would it be so wrong to punish them for it in the present? It brought up some complex questions. I also liked that the characters all saw the positives of this system and didn’t really question it until it directly affected them (I won’t say exactly how). The idea of Time Mariners, whose job it was to bring back future news was also very distinctive.
- The mystery of the vaccine. There is a mystery about what the vaccine actually does and if it is actually necessary. I don’t want to say much about it because I don’t want to spoil it, but I thought that this mystery added a lot to the overall storyline.
What I didn’t love:
- The time travel. Wait, I actually did like the time travel! But it sometimes added confusion to the book with time loops and people who learned things in one timeline but then couldn’t unlearn them when the timeline changed, etc. This is kind of a general problem with time travel that can’t really be completely avoided, though. And, at least in this book, all of those problems were acknowledged rather than ignored.
- The romances. There were two romances in this book, both of which felt like plot devices rather than actual romances. There was very little emphasis put on the romances, which would be okay except that it caused me not to believe them. Now, to give the author credit, Clover’s relationship is actually two years in the future, so it makes sense that it’s not really developed in the present story. However, the romance between Clover’s brother West and his longtime crush Bridget just feels thrown in to serve the plot (so that Bridget will go along with everything that happens) and it seems very sudden and forced to me. I’m hoping that the romantic elements are explored further in future books.
Overall, I was very intrigued by Viral Nation and will definitely read the next book in the series to find out what happens to Clover, West and company. I thought that this was a unique dystopian novel and would recommend it to fans of the genre. 4/5 Stars.
**Disclosure: An ARC version of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***