06 July 2013

Viral Nation

Author: Shaunta Grimes
Series: Viral Nation #1
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher for an honest review.  I missed the publication date by a few days, but not from a lack of trying!

This book takes off like a rocket and keeps on chugging.  It is definitely a high speed ride, although not as action packed as that might lead you to believe.  Even though the prologue drops you sixteen years before the story starts, you feel like you are still being plunged into the middle of the action.  Not only does the prologue introduce you to the fundamentals behind the viral epidemic, but it immediately hooks you to the characters, chalk full of empathy.  The pace doesn't slow down as you flash forward sixteen years, where the story focuses on Clover and West instead of their father.

My biggest beef with this novel is the whole time travel aspect of the plot.  While it is a significant part of the story, at least it wasn't so empathized that it was unbearable.  I simply let my mind wander when I reached the parts of the book that talked about time travel, and then chose to promptly forget them once I finished.  Very few authors/people in general, really, do justice to time travel in my opinion (as humble as it may be).  (To put this matter in perspective, my boyfriend told me, after going to see Looper with me, that he would never again take me to see another movie that was even remotely related to time travel.)

For starters, they are traveling two years into the future.  They steal the technology for the cure to the virus from the future, to help get the world back on its feet two years earlier.  Just that fact alone seems like a paradox to me.  If they go to the future and steal the cure and bring it back to develop it, then the cure would have already been in place for two years at the point they traveled to.  Grimes uses "time loops" in the story, I guess to explain this, but she doesn't really explain the "time loops" themselves, so I am not buying that.  If it were only the issue of the cure, I probably wouldn't have gotten so caught up on it.

But then we get to Clover's job.  She is skipped over for the Academy because of her Autism and sent directly as a Messenger.  Her job is to travel two years into the future to pick up a disc that has information/updates of the current state of affairs in the future.  I guess if they aren't doing anything to directly change it, sure, fine, whatever, I can live with that.

But then with the whole murder/killing thing.  First it is West's supposed murder of Bridget.  They manage to divert that, but then if they change it in the present, it never would have happened in the future.  Another paradox.  And then the death of another person close to Clover, two years in the future.  It is discovered towards the end of the book who is going to kill her, and she knows she dies, but wouldn't that fact right there change the result?

Ok, I said I didn't get bogged down in the time travel paradox issues.  Perhaps that is unsure.  It certainly bothered me.  Sans time travel, this might have been one of my favorite novels so far this year.  Now, it just falls into the top-middle of the pack.  Apart from the time travel aspect, however, the book is solid.  A new(ish) spin on a dystopian society, full of lies and half truths and a handful of people trying to pay God and control the masses.  And hey, a dog as a character, which surprisingly worked out well, as well as human characters who don't annoy the hell out of you and who aren't one dimensional.

I will continue this series, at least into the next installment, to see how it turns out.  The book definitely left a lot to be discovered/resolved in a continuation.

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