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Literature / Viral Nation

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Viral Nation is a series of dystopian novels by Shaunta Grimes.

Clover Donovan, an autistic sixteen-year-old living with her older brother West after a viral pandemic wiped out most of humanity, has been accepted by the prestigious Waverly-Stead academy, where she has dreamed of studying her whole life. But she can't go unless she parts with her service dog Mango, which she refuses to do. Instead, she is recruited by the Time Mariners, who travel into the future to gather information. Then she learns that West's life is in danger. In order to save him, she'll have to go against the Company, which controls almost every aspect of life.

The books in the series:

0.5: Broken Nation

1: Viral Nation

2. Rebel Nation


Viral Nation contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Area: Jude Degas lives with a group of fellow runaway foster kids in an abandoned casino called the Dinosaur.
  • After the End: So many people have died that the entire population of the United States now fits comfortably into fifty walled cities. The Donovans live in Reno, as does the entire population of what used to be Nevada; even with the mass migration, many of the houses were left empty, and were knocked down to make room for farms.
  • Character Tics: West has a habit of yanking his hand through his hair so it stands up like a porcupine. Their father James has the same habit.
  • Disability Superpower: For reasons unknown, only autistic people can travel through the time portal.
  • Disappeared Dad: Since Clover and West were young children, James has worked jobs that require him to sleep in barracks. As a result, he has almost no relationship with his kids.
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  • Drowning My Sorrows: James drinks heavily to cope with his job as an executioner.
  • Faking the Dead:
    • Langston Bennett is Jon Stead's brother. He was very close to death when he received the virus antidote, and he and his brother told the world that he'd died while he lived on under a new name.
    • When Clover and Bridget return to Reno, they claim West was killed by a bear.
  • Family Eye Resemblance: Clover has her dead mother Jane's green eyes. Once when she looks at West, she gives him déjà vu because Jane looked at him the exact same way.
  • Family Theme Naming: Diamond, Sapphire, and Emerald, aka Mondo, Phire, and Emmy.
  • Fiery Cover-Up: James illegally pulls the file predicting West's arrest and execution. Then he burns it and washes the ashes down the bathtub drain.
  • Foster Kid: Kids whose parents are dead or too busy to take care of them live in Foster City. There's virtually no oversight, so severe abuse is rampant and parents can literally get away with murder.
  • Future Slang: Foster City kids refer to neighborhood kids as hoodies.
  • Hates Being Touched: Even as an infant, Clover squirms away from touch.
  • Hellhole Prison: Prisoners convicted of violent crimes aren't usually given food or clean water. Some of them don't live long enough to be executed.
  • A Hero Is Born: The first book opens with Clover's birth during the plague.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Geena and Marta, two of the runaway foster kids, have metal rings in their left bottom lip and right nostril, respectively.
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child!: The Donovans originally caught the virus while in the hospital for Clover's birth. Now James blames her for Jane's death. When Clover was ten, she cut off most of her hair in an effort to look different from Jane and stop reminding James that she was the reason for her death, but it didn't work.
  • Mercy Kill: James Donovan gives Jane an overdose of morphine to spare her from a slow death by the virus. He's about to do the same to Clover and West, but he is interrupted by the news that a treatment is available.
  • Parental Substitute: Clover and West's next-door neighbor, Mrs. Finch, has looked after them since their father was recruited to the crews. West returns the favor by taking care of her after her stroke.
  • Photographic Memory: Clover remembers all of what she reads, most of what she sees, and less of what she hears.
  • Precrime Arrest: People convicted of future capital offenses by the Time Mariners are executed by firing squad. The system is so effective that West doesn't remember anyone committing a major crime in over a decade.
  • The Reveal: The virus suppressant doesn't actually do anything. Sixteen years ago, everyone received a single dose of a drug that both cures the illness and inoculates against it, making future doses unnecessary. The "suppressant" is a placebo designed to be addictive so that if anyone stops taking it, they'll fall ill from withdrawal. Waverly-Stead keeps up the charade in order to exert as much control over the people as possible.
  • Sensory Overload: Primary school was so noisy that Clover would come home severely overwhelmed each day. Now West does all their shopping because Clover would become catatonic from overload if she ever entered the bazaar.
  • Spanner in the Works: The protagonists' plan to sneak out past the guards would have worked great if a rabbit hadn't run across the field, causing Mango to bark once.
  • Stress Vomit: Clover vomits twice in the bushes outside her cabin after Waverly and Geena are killed.
  • 25th Amendment: So much of the government was killed by the virus that by the time it ended, the president was the secretary of housing and urban development, thirteenth in line for the office.
  • Working Out Their Emotions: Clover deals with stress by going running. The steady pattern of her feet helps her organize her thoughts.
  • You Watch Too Much X: Clover says, "Do you ever feel like you're in some kind of alternate universe? Or on a different planet, maybe?" West replies, "You've been reading too much science fiction."