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.
Grimes's debut, first in a planned series, meshes time travel and the viral apocalypse subset of the dystopia novel. By the time a cure is found for the virus that has ravaged the U.S., the population is so depleted that all citizens move to one city in each state. In Reno, siblings West and Clover live together, taking their daily doses of preventative medicine while their father is off working for the government's execution squads. Sixteen-year-old Clover is excited to have been accepted to the prestigious local Academy, but let down when her spot is revoked due to her autism. Instead, she's directed to work for the Company, where she will train to become a Time Mariner, traveling into the future to learn of as-yet-uncommitted crimes, which are then punished proactively. This leads Clover to discover a threat to her family, pulling her into a cross-time conspiracy. Grimes occasionally slips into familiar predestination clich s of time travel books, but the overall concept and sensitively defined character of Clover carry the book through. Ages 12 up.