Virals by Kathy Reichs
Released: November 1, 2010
Series: Virals #1
Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage “sci-philes” who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.
As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot-if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer’s scent. Fortunately, they are now more than friends: They are a pack. They are Virals.
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It’s been a while since I’ve posted some original content (sorry!) so I thought was high time I write about a book I’ve read. I’ve spent a lot of time this month reading for Paranormal April Fools’ and I can taste the end of my darn dissertation so there hasn’t been much pleasure reading in my life. I did, however, get my hands on Virals and though it’d be a great book to share with you.
Though I am woefully behind with Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan books, I am completely caught up with the TV adaptation of her work (Bones). I love the world and the stories this author has built but I don’t buy her books because they’re readily available at the public library. (I’m a huge proponent of public libraries and I try to use their services as much as possible, though I do like to own copies of authors I adore and re-read.) I’d been hesitating to borrow Virals because I need to be in the right mood to read YA literature, no matter what the genre or who the author is, but now that I’ve finally gotten around to reading Virals, I’m pleased I did. Virals didn’t blow my mind but I think it’s a well written story that will appeal to folks who like straight-up mysteries or thrillers and also to fans of Temperance Brennan (in either incarnation). There is some science but not enough to put off anyone who’s non-science-y. The cover really tells you what you’re going to get with Virals: there’s danger, there’s mystery, there are wolfdogs, and there’s Tory Brennan, our plucky heroine.
I think Tory is a great character and she propels the story forward in all the right ways. She embraces education and being smart, she has a clear idea of right and wrong, and she stands up for what she believes in. Tory’s got all these great traits and I love seeing this type of character in young adult literature, especially in the face of all the Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars types of books that are written for the same audience. It’s nice to see a regular, good kid at the centre of a story and I wish that there had been books with protagonists like Tory around when I was a teenager.
The other characters in the novel aren’t as well developed as Tory but they’re not cardboard cutouts, either, so they do what they’re supposed to do but not much more. I really wish Tory’s friends — Hi, Ben, and Shelton — were as well developed as Tory. We don’t know nearly as much about them as I would like but I guess that’s what the following novels are for. 😉 I hope we also get to learn more about Tory’s father, Kit, who seems like he could be really interesting.
Another thing I liked about Virals is the story and the way it unfolds. The book is more or less sequential, but it’s essentially a flashback from the first chapter onward, so you know the endpoint (sort of) and get to see how it all happens. The plot is well crafted and it takes a few turns that weren’t predictable, though the plot isn’t as intricate as the ones you’d find her Kathy Reichs’ adult books.
All in all, Virals is a well written thriller with just enough science to keep it interesting. Tory’s a great protagonist and the Virals’ abilities are fascinating but not fully developed. I look forward to seeing what happens once they have a complete grasp of how their flares work, which is why I’ll be keeping an eye out for Seizure on library shelves.