Book Review: Rebel Nation by Shaunta Grimes

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Title: Rebel Nation
Author: Shaunta Grimes
Publisher: Berkeley Trade
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Genres: Post-apocalyptic, Dystopian, Young Adult



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Rebel NationRebel Nation
Shaunta Grimes
Berkley Books, July 2014
ISBN 978-0-425-26812-4
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Sixteen years ago, a plague wiped out nearly all of humanity. The Company’s vaccine stopped the virus’s spread, but society was irrevocably changed. Those remaining live behind impenetrable city walls, taking daily doses of virus suppressant and relying on The Company for continued protection. They don’t realize that everything they’ve been told is a lie…

Clover Donovan didn’t set out to start a revolution—quiet, autistic, and brilliant, she’s always followed the rules. But that was before they forced her into service for the Time Mariners. Before they condemned her brother to death, compelling him to flee the city to survive. Before she discovered terrifying secrets about The Company.

Clover and the Freaks, her ragtag resistance group, are doing their best to spread the rebellion and stay under The Company’s radar. But when their hideout is discovered, they are forced, once again, to run. Only this time, The Company has special plans for Clover, plans that could risk her life and stop the uprising in its tracks…

It’s not all that easy these days to come up with a fresh idea in dystopian fiction but, in Viral Nation, Shaunta Grimes did just that and has now followed it up with a nicely done sequel, Rebel Nation. In this second of the trilogy, the reader becomes re-acquainted with Clover Donovan, an autistic teen who happens to be of serious interest to the government specifically because of her autism. It’s possible that other books have been written with an autistic protagonist in a dystopian world; if so, I don’t know of them and I think it would be difficult to find a better characterization of how such a child might fit in. I don’t know a lot of details about the spectrum but I believe Clover would be deemed high-functioning in today’s reality.

Clover is  a unique protagonist and is written so well that she came alive for me on all levels. I appreciated the author’s depictions of Clover’s awareness of those times when her behavior is not quite appropriate and her determination to contain herself. At the same time, we can see that she needs a special sort of assistance which she gets from her loyal and loving service dog, Mango. Her relationship with the very admirable Jude is another highlight of the story and his devotion to her, even when faced with her reactions to certain stimuli, is *so* much more believable than the all-too-frequent romances we find in Young Adult fiction. Jude is the young man I would want on my side if I were Clover.

There are plenty of villains in Rebel Nation but none quite so despicable as Bennett and his single-minded determination to make use of Clover’s abilities comes across loud and clear. Whether Clover and Jude, along with the rest of their ragtag group, could stay out of his clutches and spread the rebellion against The Company kept me reading all night and I didn’t regret a moment of my lost sleep. The Freaks are a resistance group that shoulders a great weight and I really wish I could continue the story now, especially since Ms. Grimes has left us with a humdinger of a cliffhanger. There’s a prequel novella coming out soon—I guess that’ll have to tide me over till the third book  😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2014.

About the Author


Shaunta GrimesShaunta Grimes has worked as a substitute teacher, a newspaper reporter, a drug court counselor, and a vintage clothing seller. No matter which direction she strays, however, she always comes back to storytelling. She lives in Reno with her family, where she writes, teaches, and perpetually studies at the University of Nevada. Viral Nation is her debut traditionally-published novel.

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