When I first started reading Viral Nation, I thought it was going to be a pretty standard post-apocalyptic / dystopian YA novel. While there are a lot of these types of books out there right now, this one definitely stands out for many reasons.
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.”
Our protagonist, Clover, lost her mother to the virus but both her father and brother were saved. Her father is in the security section and her brother works on a farm. Clover hopes to attend The Academy – she is extremely intelligent and scores well on her test. However, when she gets there for her interview, she is rejected as they won’t allow her service dog into the school. She is autistic and her dog helps her live a somewhat normal life by providing the calming influence that she needs. As a side note, I do have to point out that there is a bullying scene when Clover visits the academy (apparently she’s been bullied at school most of her life.) The hatefulness of these girls really got to me and I had to stop reading for a little while. Unfortunately, it is realistic, but YIKES!
Instead of going to the academy, she is drafted to be a Time Mariner for The Company. This sets off a chain of events that opens her eyes, along with those of her friends and family, to what is really going on in their world.
I truly enjoyed the story and getting to know Clover. Her autism doesn’t define her and I LOVE that she has found a way to live her life. Plus, her dog is such an important part of the story and that made it even more special. Yes, there is a little love connection for Clover but it is done so well that I have no complaints. The time travel aspect is so interesting and will add a lot of depth to the story.
Her brother, West, and the other ‘freaks’ are all important characters and the author did a good job of not only world building but giving life to each of them. From a character perspective, my only real issue was with her father. His basic abandonment of them didn’t sit well with me and I wasn’t sure it made total sense.
There were some formatting issues with my ARC that did make it more difficult to read but I was able to work around them.
You know that you love a book when you immediately go online to see when the next installment is scheduled to be released. 4/5 stars.
Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.