Release Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Genre: Young Adult (Urban Fantasy)
Format(s): Paperback (320 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher
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.
What G & U are talking about:
Viral Nation is a new young adult novel in a post-apocalyptic world. Due to a nasty viral outbreak, populations were decimated; leaving survivors encamped in walled cities. The cure to the virus that saved the world turns out to be a future drug. The suppressant was brought back from the future, manufactured by the Company who then started to take over… everything.
It is an ominous world that Clover and West live in, although they don’t know it. This new world is what they grew up in. Children only attend primary school. After primary school they either work growing food for the government or they go work for the Company. If a child is particularly bright, they attend the Academy where, upon graduation, they are able to obtain high-level positions in either the Company or the government. Life within the walled cities is safe and crime is nonexistent. With the Company keeping tabs on future events, they are able to detain and execute criminals prior to committing the crimes.
Clover is an extremely intelligent young woman who just so happens to have Autism. West, her older brother, has cared for her since their father moved up the ranks within the Company and was required to live in the barracks. They have come to depend on each other.
West is looking forward to Clover going to the Academy. With her intellect it is a no brainer that she will certainly get in. This means West can follow his dream of working for the Company as soon as Clover leaves to live in the dorms. However nothing ever seems to go as planned. When Clover attends her interview for the Academy, she is sent to the Company to work instead. Strangely not only does she get sent directly from her interview to the Company, but straight on to her first training mission. From there, Clover’s future is changed, along with West’s and that of the few friends they meet on the way.
This is not the only strange issue Gikany and Una find while reading Viral Nation. We do not know anyone personally that is autistic. However, we felt that Clover’s autism was not severe. She seems far more social than what we would believe. Although Clover tenses and prefers to not be touched when under duress, she seemed more accepting of it when calmer. It felt like she would have an autistic moment and then continue on as a stubborn, seriously smart girl. Maybe it is due to her being only mildly Autistic, but we are given the impression that she is supposed to be more than mildly Autistic.
Another issue we found a bit off-putting was when Clover is on her mission (we are keeping this spoiler free). There is a portion when traveling that noise and vibration are an issue. Mango, a bulldog and her assistance dog, is subjected to the loud noise and vibration. Clover is up in a cushioned seat with her feet elevated on a board which minimizes the impact along with wearing hearing protection. From what we are allowed to believe, Clover lets Mango sit on the floor (getting full force vibration) and must endure the loud noises. With a dog’s sensitive ears, it must have been cruel. This really bothered us.
Although we felt Viral Nation had a few issues, we did find it to be an interesting world. Considering how we are left at the end of the novel, we would like to see what happens in the next installment. We do recommend Viral Nation to any age starting at seventh grade and above. It is a good mix of urban fantasy and light science fiction.
Liked it, but I had some issues – recommend (B)