Monday, July 1, 2013

Review: Viral Nation

Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes

Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Trade
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 320
ISBN-10: 0425265137
ISBN-13: 978-0425265130

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Trade)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Shaunta Grimes on the WEB: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Library Thing

Excerpt from Viral Nation, courtesy of the author's website.


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.


Shaunta Grimes enters the world of young adult writing with a startling debut novel entitled, Viral Nation. The dystopian world that Grimes has created is edgy and somewhat desperate. Her characters are both intriguing and inspiring. Grimes chooses and unlikely heroine to bring revolution to a society that has been decimated by a plague and gives readers a special young girl to cheer for. 

A lot of times in the book sphere you will hear words to describe certain kinds of writing or genres that may be unfamiliar to you. Dystopian is often one of them. When an author writes about a dystopian world, basically they are writing about an "imaginary society where societal or technological trends have culminated in a greatly diminished quality of life or degradation of values." (the Freed Dictionary) Shaunta Grimes uses this idea to create the society and world for Viral Nation.

In Viral Nation, Grimes uses a plague to practically wipe the global population off the earth, creating a dystopian society that virtually controls everything, from the plague suppressants, and food supplies, to crime. Grimes develops this very complex and structured world in such a way that readers will feel the desperation of the people forced to live in these conditions. At first it appears The Company is a benevolent protector of the people, but once the surface is scratched, you can feel the iron grip they have on them. I loved the whole idea that these survivors, who created a society in the face of tragedy could not take care of themselves. They had to have this Company to do it for them. Revolution was inevitable!

Clearly one of the best aspects of this book is the heroine, Clover Donovan. Clover is a high functioning autistic girl, who wants nothing more than to live her life the way she wants to, without all the laws that seem to govern where she can go to school or who she can protect. The fact that Grimes makes her heroine autistic is amazing. Readers are able to see how Clover interacts with her world and how autism affects her but doesn't rule her life. Grimes has obviously done her homework on autism and helps the reader see a whole new side of it that they may not have experienced before.

As a debut novel I think this book really draws the reader in, not just to this book, but the series as well. Grimes sets up the series very well, while still keeping the primary theme of this book in the forefront. Clover finds out that her brother West is in danger and she is determined to save him, in the process she meets several other misfits and starts a revolution that is greatly needed. Just goes to show you, one person really can change the world. I liked that whole idea in this book. One person no matter how insignificant they may seem can light a spark that changes everything. 

I look forward to seeing whats to come with this author and this series. I don't review as many young adult novels as I would prefer, but when I do, they are generally very good or significant in some other way. This is one is both!

Viral Nation will be available tomorrow from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

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.