Book Review Wednesday: Viral Nation (4 stars)

Posted: June 20, 2014 in Book Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

Finished this review on wednesday and clicked publish, but it’s only showing as a draft. Weird. Anyways, here’s last wednesdays review in case you haven’t read it.

A more unknown book this time. Only 206 reviews on goodreads. I hate risking reading a bad book because I have a disturbing compulsion to finish the book, and if I don’t like it, that’s a really sucky process. Anyways, the ratings were decent, and its a dystopia (my ultimate love), AND it stars an autistic main character!

Since I happen to be autistic, I love coming across a good book with a well written autistic character. This was one of them. Here’s the blurb:

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.

Things I liked about it:

The idea. Basically it revolves around a time portal that stays exactly two years ahead of present time. People go there, bring back information and try not to mess things up too much and change the future. Not totally original, but interesting anyway.

Clover. The author seems to get that people with autism are varied, and capable of all kinds of things neurotypical people do, including relationships, but sometimes in a different way. I liked that most if not all of Clover’s big issues with her autism weren’t from her autism, but from how others treat her because of it. Clover can function pretty much ‘normally’ with a few minor changes to her environment such as having her service dog around. But do people want to allow these changes that barely even affect them? No way! It has some good parallels with discrimination issues in our world.

West. You really feel for the guy. He just wants to do what’s best for his sister, and ends up sacrificing his own future to do so. No one understands Clover the way he does, not even their father, so he’s basically the only one really there for her. I really liked Clover and his relationship.

Secondary characters: Most of the secondary characters are well fleshed out. The only niggle I had with this was Jude. He’s a more prominent character with an interesting back-story, but there were times when I felt I should know him a bit better. It’s a small thing that I was mostly able to push to the back of my mind while reading.

Timey whimy wibbly wobbly: The two year loop is complex. You know something from the future you can change the present, and it doesn’t always go the way you expect. It’s hard to tell sometimes if you’re changing something for the better or not. This book gets into some of those ideas that make your head spin. This can be good or bad. Personally I love that kind of mind bending stuff and wanted more of it, but some may not like being led to ideas that make their brains do gymnastics.

Things I didn’t like:

Some parts of the plot: Overall I liked the plot, but there were some areas when I thought the author could’ve made more excitement out of the situation. More risk, more close calls, more action. Most of the time the characters were running and hiding, which was OK, but I wish they’d been forced into the offensive more.

Overly convenient: Some plot points seem to make things too easy for the characters. I wanted more struggle, more pain. Yes, this may make me a bad person. Loose threads: This may be addressed in later books, but there were a few of these. The ending: It kind of didn’t. I was expecting some big finale, but it just trailed off. That said, I found the book interesting enough for a read, but the ending did disappoint me.

Four out of five stars. I’d call this book flawed, but worth a read, particularly if you like reading about autistic characters. And in case you want to read more reviews about this book, here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15985355-viral-nation

 

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