Virals by Kathy Reichs

published on November 2nd, 2010 by Razorbill
Young Adult | Science Fiction | Mystery

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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’re a pack. They are Virals.


Bones screenwriter Kathy Reichs’ adventure into the YA genre – with her Virals series – has quickly become a guilty pleasure for me. It’s certainly not perfect, but it is an impressive and entertaining combination of mystery and science nonetheless.

Our protagonist, Tory Brennan, is the niece of the one and only Temperance Brennan, and lives with her friends on an isolated island just off the coast of South Carolina. When they discover and rescue a caged wolfdog being used for medical research, they’re not prepared for the results: the virus the wolfdog has can affect humans too; giving them superhuman powers. But are these powers enough to stop the notorious serial killer roaming around their island?

Tory herself was a bit mediocre to me. I like how she was portrayed as an intelligent and resourceful protagonist and that she was so self-reliant. She’s a protagonist teens will definitely connect with, as she feels like an outcast everywhere she goes.


However, her character is certainly without flaws. Two of the “hottest” boys at her school are crushing on her (thus getting every. single. girl in the school to hate her). Additionally, there are times when her character just felt a bit too intelligent and perfect.

The side characters were all vibrant and well-developed. While, in a perfect world, they certainly all could have used a bit more development, each side character was decently developed. From moody Ben to the comedic Hi to resourceful Shelton, each character had a place and a motivation, which I enjoyed.

The mystery itself was not one that blew my mind per se, but it was enjoyable and quick (as it should be with a writer with Reichs’ experience). The resolution and some of the points needed to find the answer felt a bit convenient to me, but it was enjoyable regardless.

To me at least, it’s obvious that the main point of Reichs writing this series is money. From her writing, it doesn’t really seem she’s much interested in the YA genre as a whole, and it seemed like she was just trying to recreate her Temperance Brennan series with a younger heroine. Nonetheless though, I think, despite its many flaws, this is a entertaining and enjoyable; almost in a way that makes it feel like a guilty pleasure.


Skulls 3


Do you have any “guilty pleasure” reads?

About Zoe

Zoe is a critical reviewer. When she’s not reviewing, you can find her performing in plays / musicals, doing gymnastics, or designing websites.

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8 thoughts on “Review: Virals by Kathy Reichs

  1. Heck, I wouldn’t even consider this a guilty pleasure read, Zoe :) Mine are ones that I definitely do not want anyone to know that I read them. Lol! Anyway, despite your problems with them, my interest is curiously piqued.


  2. Oh I just love an intelligent protagonist, but I’m not so sold on how the two hottest boys in school are majorly crushing on her *eye rolls* I like the science aspect in this one, it sounds interesting and adds a great touch to the story. The characters sound lovely and vibrant as well! Wonderful review as always Zoe!


  3. This one sounds just different enough to be worth the read, even though it seems a little too generic YA in parts. The author, where have I heard her name before? I’m looking at her on Goodreads and I know that name, but where from?

    This’ll haunt me until it clicks now.
    Awesome review Zoe, might chuck this one on my maybe pile <3


  4. I religiously watch Bones every week, and not just for the David Boreanaz eye-candy. ;) I’ve been tempted to check-out the series that inspired it all, my only problem with that is I hate doing it AFTER I’ve watched the show because the characters are already set in my mind. You also raise a good point with that whole money grab thing…


  5. Ahhh, I love Bones and the Temperance Brennan Series, picked up Virals not so long ago, haven’t read it yet, but now I don’t know what to think of it, still, sounds fun and I do like a quick read, and it’ll probably end up as a guilty pleasure read for me too, and at least she’s smart. :)


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