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Review: Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes

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Viral Nation by Shaunta GrimesViral Nation (Viral Nation #1)
Shaunta Grimes
Published: July 2, 2013 (Berkley Trade)
Purchase at: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: Provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amanda

Rating (out of 5): 2 stars

I had high hopes for Viral Nation. After a deadly virus wipes out most of the world’s population, the survivors live in walled cities scattered around the U.S., taking a daily suppressant that keeps the virus in check. Clover’s never known a different life. The brilliant girl is excited about attending the Waverly-Stead Academy, but when she reports to her interview with her service dog in tow, she’s told her acceptance has been rescinded. Instead, she’s thrown directly into training with the Company as a Time Mariner, someone who travels through the time portal discovered at the bottom of Lake Tahoe sixteen years earlier.

Violent crime is a thing of the past, thanks to this portal, because offenders are arrested and executed based on the data retrieved from the future. When Clover finds a bulletin accusing her older brother, West, of murdering the Academy headmaster’s daughter, she knows she has to save him, and she’ll risk everything to do so.

This story seemed like it would be amazing. Minority Report meets time traveling dystopia, all centered around a girl with autism? Hell yeah, bring it.

The book’s description made me think there’d be action and intensity aplenty. What I got was a story that started slow and never really picked up steam. Whenever there was action on the page, it wasn’t enough, because it lacked tension. That lack of tension meant the twist toward the end of the book had far less impact than it could have had. I wasn’t shocked, or surprised, or even startled.

I never got into West’s head; there was a major disconnect for me with him. I never got into any of the characters heads, really. Clover had the potential to be interesting, and at times she was. She could puzzle out the answers to questions with a minimal amount of information. But again there was that disconnect, and I found I just didn’t care enough about what happened to her.

The most intriguing character was Jude. Pieces of him are revealed, little by little, as Clover gets to know him. He knows how to handle her when she gets worked up, and he’s not afraid to stand up to West if he thinks what West wants isn’t what’s best for the rest of their gang – or for Clover.

I want to say that most of this is all on me, because I built it up so much in my head beforehand. And I’m sure there are readers that will enjoy Viral Nation. But despite being well written and having one of the more creative plots I’ve heard of in a long time, it lacked that intangible it that pulls you into the story and keeps you turning the pages even when your stomach is growling for dinner. The ending sets up the next book; unfortunately, I won’t be reading it.

Sexual content: Kissing

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