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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars

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on 29 July 2013
Our story opens with what should be a happy occasion - a new baby - but this is no ordinary day and lives are most definitely not happy! A virus is spreading throughout the United States, wiping out millions with no hope of survival, until there's a knock at the door of the Donovan family sadly too late for Clover's mother. Fast forward sixteen years, Clover has just finished school and been accepted to the Academy where future researchers, engineers, doctors and leaders are groomed. The orientation day doesn't quite go as planned for Clover and things rapidly go downhill for both her and her brother West.

Clover, the main character, is autistic and has a service dog named Mango who was one of many things I loved about Viral Nation. I will freely admit I don't know much about autism although I do have friends with children who have Asperger's. With what little information I do know, Clover came across perfectly with her tics and traits, her coping mechanisms. I loved West, Clover's brother, who is the trigger for all the adventure in the book and Jude, the boy she meets at the Academy before things go pear-shaped. West was written so realistically, he genuinely loved Clover but wasn't afraid to show his frustration with her, and their situation. He's had to more or less raise Clover by himself after their father joins the Execution squads but not once do you get the sense he would ever give up on her. Jude was a wonderful character and I loved how he "got" Clover although after some rather relevant information is disclosed about how he is so good with her it was easy to see why and made you fall in love with Jude just a little bit more. I also love that there's just a hint of romance which takes Clover completely by surprise, not something easy to do!

What I loved most though was that I was expecting another straightforward YA dystopian novel but oh how wrong I was! YA dystopian time travel has just become my new favorite genre. What's different about Viral Nation is that whilst everyone is being wiped out by this virus or plague it turns out there is a time portal under Lake Tahoe which allows people to see two years into the future. This portal is operated by Time Mariners or more specifically, Messengers whose fans Clover is recruited into.

From start to finish Viral Nation was a fast paced read that I didn't want put down until the last page was turned and that's exactly what I did. Apart from anything, it was easy to see how the descriptions of what happened and how people lived after the outbreak of the plague was eerily possible in our world and how the bad guys weren't always the bad guys, how they thought they were doing the right thing with their best intentions even though naturally they weren't. The world Shaunta has created, with the plague and time travel, was exactly the sort of books I wanted to read, both her writing, characterization and world building were amazing. There were some fantastic plot threads starting to unravel by the end with some twists and turns that took me completely by surprise. I can't wait to see where Shaunta takes Clover, West and the rest of the gang and I can only hope I'm lucky enough to read the next book in the series early again! This gets my top rating of five stars because I stayed up all night to finish Viral Nation, turning the light off at 5am!
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on 14 September 2013
This wasn't really my cup of tea.

I didn't click with the writing style, it didn't engage me. So from the start I didn't enjoy it. That said, when the end came I tried again and again to turn the page. It felt like it finished too soon and I wanted to read on as I'd started to like it and even enjoy it. The ending was SO abrupt.

I don't like complex time-travel in books, and this has it in spades. I just get super confused and start over thinking EVERYTHING. Add to that that there wasn't much explanation of the complexities of this brand of time-travel and I was sitting scratching my head like a confused monkey.

But I did like the characters. I liked Clover and how she struggled so much and grew throughout the book. She was a really strong character. I liked her voice. The conflicts the characters faced were pretty good too. The situations were pretty scary in some places. And terrifying in others.

The best part of this book for me, was the final 15%. Out of all of the book it's the bit that gripped me and made me turn the pages faster.

The worst bit of this book was the killing of all would-be criminals except for child abusers. Just thinking of it makes me sick.
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on 8 July 2013
Viral Nation starts with us seeing the devastation that follows a wide spread virus. Millions of people are dying a slow and agonising death. Two men travel forward and get the miracle cure but it's not so much a cure as it is a suppressant. People will have to have a dose everyday for the rest of their lives or the virus will come back.
Each city has walled of their areas and have Time Mariners who travel two years into the future to bring back information on what's happened in that time. This allows them to stop or prevent future crimes so every place is virtually crime free.
Clover is an autistic girl and West, her brother, looks after her. Their mother died of the virus and their father works as an executioner. Clover has a service dog, Mango, who helps her calm down and relaxes her when she gets over whelmed. She has always dreamed of going to the academy but they won't accept her dog. She is drafted to the Time Mariners and during one mission she finds out her brother is in danger and is accused of murder, a crime punishable by death. Clover must do everything in her power to save him.
Viral Nation is an intriguing and different book. I loved the fact that Clover is the main character and even though she has a disability it doesn't stop her from doing what needs to be done. Clover and Wests relationship was another thing I loved. They have such a strong bond and will do anything for each other.
This book dragged me into the story right from the start. It was so easy to connect with all the characters, even the secondary ones. It flowed from page to page and I had such a hard time putting it down. The world the author created was something I'd hope never to experience. People have to be dosed everyday and everything is monitored. Is everything as it seems or are people hiding secrets? Who do you trust?
The only flaw in a truly great book was the time travelling element. The idea that you can only travel 2 years forward was unique but it was done poorly at times. When they started on about the time travelling and the time loops etc I found myself skimming it. It was sometimes confusing. Other wise its a truly great story with unique characters. I look forward to more from this author.
Received from Netgalley.
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on 22 August 2013
The plot of Viral Nation was not unique but it was interesting and well written. The addition of time travel made the plot less generic, and whilst I personally am not a big fan of time travel/alternate universes, here it was well done but the author did leave many questions about how it worked unanswered. The story was a page turner and I couldn't wait to carry on reading every time I put it down.

The characterisation of the main characters was well done, particularly the relationship between Clover and West, and Clover and her dog. A big part of Clover's character was her autism, which did have a purpose in the plot but I felt it was unrealistic, for example in low stress situations she relies on her service dog but a few chapters later in a high stress situation she leaves the dog behind and has no problems. I feel this was a weakness in her characterisation, and is hopefully something that will be refined in the future.

The reason Viral Nation didn't get 5 stars from me was the abrupt ending. This is clearly the first book in a series, and I understand the author wanting to have a `hook' to get readers to read the second book but I felt ripped off after spending hours enjoying it to have the book just end with no real conclusion. This is a massive weakness for Viral Nation, particularly as the sequel has not yet been published, and I feel readers will forget the 95% of the novel which is excellent and just go away with an unsatisfied feeling, never to read book two.

[An ARC was provided by NetGalley]
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on 17 September 2015
Title: Viral Nation
Series: Viral Nation (#1)
Author: Shaunta Grimes
From: Netgalley
Genre: Dystopian, Sci-fi, Young Adult
Release Date: 2nd July 2013
Challenges: 2015 Reading Assignment Challenge, 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

When the world is ravished by 'the virus', a time portal is found and a cure brought back from two years in the future. Administered to everyone each day, order and civilisation are restored and life goes on, with everyone working and living off the bare minimum. When autistic Clover goes for her interview to study at the Academy, she is instead drafted into working as a Messenger for the Company, going forwards into the future to retrieve information.

I'd like to start by saying that I read an ARC of Viral Nation, and as such the formatting was quite frustrating at times (there were numbers everywhere), however as soon as I was into the book (which didn't take long at all), I barely noticed them and basically devoured the book. I wanted to point this out, even though I normally wouldn't bother, because I think it shows the strength of the story and the characters.

The main character, Clover, was definitely different to other YA female characters, potentially because of her autism and potentially simply because of Grimes' writing style. Whatever the reason I really enjoyed her as a character. Another aspect of her character was her service dog, Mango, who was partly an extension of Clover and partly his own character, and I loved having an animal in such a prominent position.

The time travel element of the book was fascinating. At first I wasn't sure if it was going to work, but actually I really thought that it did. I liked how the characters were aware that they could (and in some cases were) caught in time loops. I also liked that they were aware of how the paradoxes were affecting them. It made the whole thing much more believable (well as believable as time travel is anyway).

The dystopia was well formed, with the act of controlling the population being the most prevalent part of it. Interestingly there were still some mysteries left regarding exactly what was going on, particularly in the Company. From what could be gathered, the dystopia spanned more than just the one city, but I am interested to see how this could progress.

Viral Nation was interesting and different, I would definitely suggest it to YA dystopia fans.
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on 26 June 2013
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW, Berkley Trade, and Netgalley.)
16-year-old Clover is looking forward to starting school at `The Academy', when because of her dog, she instead gets sent to `The Company' and gets enlisted instead.
Clover is autistic, and for some reason the people at `The Academy' believe that she will be well suited to being a `Time Mariner' - someone who goes two years into the future and brings back news to the present day on a regular basis. Clover isn't sure about her new job, but she doesn't really have a choice in the matter.

When she sees a friend in the future and he helps her, and then gives her important information about her brother, she's not sure what she's supposed to do.
Her brother West is going to kill someone, which means he'll get arrested for it before it actually happens. The problem is that even though they've got warning, he can't go into hiding because he needs `The Suppressant' a daily injection that stops people from dying of this deadly virus.
Why is West going to kill this girl? Can they save her? And can they save him?

This book just bored me, and Clover was so whiney it was annoying.

Clover irritated the hell out of me. I don't mean to be nasty to someone who has a disability, but she just wouldn't stop whining! She just went on and on and on, about the stupid dog, about the stupid academy, about anything(!) until I just wanted to slap her. I mean seriously - stop with the whining! Please!

The whole going into the future, finding out who will commit a crime, and then arresting them beforehand reminded me really strongly of the film `Minority Report', and I didn't really like that either. Talk about robbing people of their own free will! If you don't give people the chance to change, then they never will.

There was too much going on in the storyline for me - the virus, this whole academy/company thing with Clover, the visits to the future, the blo*dy dog, the possible murder and a whole heap of other stuff. The problem was that I just felt nothing for the characters (other than them annoying me), and really didn't feel anything but boredom and annoyance over the storyline, which made this book seriously hard work for me.
The ending was a little bit more interesting, but it did end with what seemed very much like the opening for the next book. Suffice to say, that I will not be reading any more of these, I've had enough.
Overall; a post apocalyptic, `Minority Report' like YA mystery, with a really whiney main character.
4 out of 10.
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on 18 November 2016
I'd give this book three and a half stars if I could.

Clover is a really great protagonist. Her viewpoint is written really well and is a great representation of an autistic character.

However, the plot felt weak. The way the time travel was handled didn't feel internally consistent and there was a reveal late in the book about the time portal that seemed to exist simply to make the plot work - it had no basis in logic. There were a few elements of the plot that were really predictable and some things that were just really confusing (and either never got explained or were just hand-waved away). It's a shame.

It's enjoyable if you like YA dystopias, especially if you want to see a well-written autistic protagonist, but not a book that will be making my favourites list.
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on 18 November 2014
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