A Viral State

Fiction - Dystopia
307 Pages
Reviewed on 01/12/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

A Viral State is a work of fiction in the dystopian and action subgenres. It is aimed at mature readers and was penned by author Degen Hill. Set in a vision of the future in which a deadly virus has infected mankind and only daily injections will keep citizens safe from it, Finn Brantley is fired from the job that provides him with his supply of the daily antidote. When he doesn’t die from the virus, like he’s supposed to, his attempts to make a vaccine from his blood lands him in prison. Meanwhile, a government agent searching for a cure begins to realize that his government knows more than they’re letting on.

This is certainly a timely novel given the subject matter, but what struck me most was the parallels between the tyrannical government in the book and the very real profit-based healthcare system which motivates people to stay in their jobs or risk losing insurance. Author Degen Hill’s imagination has created a world in these pages with some white-hot social commentary about the world we live in right now, and no punches are pulled in exploring this extreme future that could one day be our own. This is an exciting, full-throttle tale of rebellion and hope in the face of tyranny that has thrilling and engaging prose on every page. Overall, A Viral State is a book that will hook you quickly and take you on a dark and dangerous adventure as it unfolds, and once the final page is turned I guarantee you’ll be thinking about what it has to say long afterward.

Pikasho Deka

A Viral State by Degen Hill is a dystopian thriller set in the latter half of the 22nd century. The US has been renamed The United Federation, with Central (former New York City) as its capital. The general populace has to take a daily dose of injections to negate the effects of a deadly virus that permeates the planet. After running out of doses, Finn Brantley discovers that he may be immune to the virus. Alongside his chemist friend, he begins developing vaccines, leading to his incarceration in The 212. Meanwhile, his daughter's failing health forces federal agent Nolan Parker to search for the mysterious cure. Alongside a rebel group in The 212, Finn, Parker, and an activist named Alayna Ramos must fight against an authoritarian regime hell-bent on misleading the public.

Degen Hill's gripping dystopian thriller has some striking parallels to events happening in our world right now. Fast-paced, action-packed, and filled with suspense and intrigue, A Viral State leaves little room to relax, keeping you on the edge of your seat for the duration of the book. Clearly inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic, Hill's novel demonstrates the ways the general populace can be manipulated through a barrage of misinformation and propaganda and kept in the dark as to what's going on. Finn and Nolan are the two most fleshed-out characters, with backstories of their own that give agency to their actions. Despite the dark tone of the narrative, the story ends on an optimistic note. I thoroughly enjoyed A Viral State, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys dystopian tales.

Rabia Tanveer

A Viral State by Degen Hill is a thrilling dystopian novel with enough action and suspense to make you lose yourself in the story. Set in the year 2071, the world is hit by a deadly virus, and humans need daily medicine to survive. However, when Finn Brantley loses his job and his access to medicine, he is sure he will die very soon. But when that doesn’t happen, Finn realizes the impossible: he is immune to the Styre virus. His desperate attempts at making a vaccine don’t go unnoticed, and he is thrown into prison where Finn meets with rebel fighters who are ready to do whatever it takes to help Finn make that vaccine and liberate everyone from the clutches of the government. Little does Finn know, he and the rebels are not the only ones desperately trying for a cure. A government agent named Nolan is searching for the cure too. Once the two meet, they will stop at nothing until the world is free of the government and the Styre virus.

Surprisingly easy to read, I breezed through the story and ended it within just a couple of hours. I was invested from the get-go, and nothing could stop once I reached chapter three (I missed lunch just to read a little more). Finn is a little desperate and very much tired of his life in the beginning, but when he realizes that he is immune to the virus, there is a spark in him that makes reading this story an absolute joy. Nolan Parker, on the other hand, is a straitlaced man ready to do whatever is right in the eyes of the law. However, his personal tragedy allows him to look further and hope for a better future, too. The story is very obviously inspired by the current global situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and the author gives a very scary yet accurate description of what can happen in the future. The story feels genuine, realistic, and very entertaining: everything you need in dystopian fiction to occupy you for hours.