Tory Brennan, the fourteen-year-old 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 Charleston, South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog that's been kidnapped for medical testing on nearby Loggerhead Island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.
As Tory and her friends discover their heightened senses and canine-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're more than friends: they're now a pack. They are VIRALS.
Author: Kathy Reichs
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense
Publication Date: November 2, 2010
Source: Received from publicist. Many thanks goes to Vimala from Penguin Canada for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 4/5
Tory Brennan and her friends all live on an island off of the coast of Charleston, North Carolina. With their parents working on nearby Loggerhead Island, they often are left to their own devices. When they make a discovery on the island, they unwittingly unleash a virus that will change their lives forever. If that isn't enough, they also stumble upon the remnants of a cold case which quickly heats up, spiraling things drastically out of control. Will the four friends be able to figure out what is going on before they end up dead?
As an avid fan of Reichs' Temperance Brennan novels, I was intrigued to see how Virals would turn out. I appreciated the fact that Tory is Temperance's niece and couldn't wait to find out more. I was skeptical though about how she would use the experimental strain of parvovirus in the story. I shouldn't have worried.
I really liked the sci-fi feel to the book, but more so than that, I really enjoyed the mystery. The story does not solely revolve around the characters newfound powers, as they don't know what exactly is happening until later on in the book. They do, however, end up right in the middle of things when they inadvertently stumble upon the remains of a cold case. The killer is still very much in the area, and is willing to do whatever it takes to keep things unsolved.
I found it a refreshing read, and loved the fact that it was a true mystery, with only a few hints towards a romantic subplot. I loved the characters, especially Tory, Ben, Hi, and Shelton, and I love how they banded together. I do wish we could have seen Tory interact more with Kit though, and hope that they'll spend more time together in the next installment.
I will mention that I felt like this book read more so for a younger audience, tweens rather than YA readers, however I think both age groups would enjoy the book. The science was accessible and the language also made this book easy to understand; the reader isn't bogged down with unexplained scientific theories. The plot and pacing made this an exhilarating read as well.
All in all, an enterprising and entertaining young adult debut from Reichs. I loved the action-packed scenes, as well as those involving the exploration of the teens' new powers. The scientific reasoning behind the way they obtained their powers makes this a plausible theory without sending it into the realm of the supernatural. The mystery included also adds another facet to the book, as does the use of several canine faces within the title of the book. I'll definitely be picking up the next installment in the series as I can't wait to see what Reichs has planned next for Tory and company.