Ella has just finished reading the newly released Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes.
Here's Ella's review.....
"I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Shaunta Grimes’newest novel, Viral Nation, to review. It turned out to be the perfect book for a start-of-summer road trip! It’s a YA dystopia, with several unique twists.
The story starts out with an amalgamation of every bad thing that might happen at some point to the US: a civil war, several natural disasters, an energy crisis, and finally, at the point where the narrative begins, a horrific virus that causes most of the population to rot to death. It initially requires a bit of suspension of disbelief, but I quickly became invested in the fate of the characters, in particular because of a heart-wrenching introduction. Luckily, the breakdown of society isn’t really the focus of the book. Instead, it focuses on the way the world is reshaped: 16 years after a cure is found, the Company, which provides the suppressants to the virus, as good as controls the 50 walled cities that the few survivors call home. As well, it has virtually eliminated violent crime by being able to travel 2 years into the future and back through a portal at the bottom of a lake (just go with it), letting the Company catch criminals before they have the chance to break the law. Unexpectedly scifi for the average YA dystopia, and very cool.
Clover, the book’s heroine, is 16 years old, brilliant and autistic. Her life-long dream of attending the Academy, the only place any sort of higher education is possible, is crushed when her service-dog is not allowed to go with her - a deal-breaker for Clover. She is then drafted to become a Time Mariner, one of the select few allowed to travel through the portal. Things start to fall apart when (Minority Reportstyle), her beloved brother and life-long guardian, West, is identified as a future murderer.
I loved Clover, and I found her autism to be interesting and respectfully written. It was an important plot point, and it definitely affected her life, but it wasn’t her defining characteristic. Her blunt and pragmatic personality made for a refreshing break from the “Sickeningly Perfect Except for a Few Endearing Flaws” stock heroine that can be all too common in YA books. A main character with actual new ground to cover was a fabulous treat. Her brother West was also great, as was the cast of other supporting characters. Half of them were introduced suddenly halfway through the novel, which was a little confusing, but otherwise it was smooth sailing, character-wise. The urgency of needing a daily dose of virus suppressant was a very fun way to make every risky thing they did even more exciting and kind of tense. Everything is more dramatic when there’s a danger someone could start turning into a living corpse if they don’t get the medicine in time.
With its unique collection of bits and pieces from other types of scifi, Viral Nation is not your standard take on YA dystopia. I sincerely hope there will be a sequel, because there was too much going on in this story to stop after only one novel. With Viral Nation, Shaunta Grimes is not pulling any punches, and the sky is the limit when it comes to unexpected plot twists. Danger! Excitement! Lots of surprises! A dash of non-stifling romance! People actually talking about and dealing with time travel paradoxes! Viral Nation has all of these and more for the scifi/fantasy fan. Thanks Shaunta!" Read an excerpt of Viral Nation.
Ella - your reviews are always wonderful! Thank you! Hopefully you'll be able to fit a few more in before school starts! And check out Shaunta's guest post as well - about her path to becoming an author.