Virals by Kathy Reichs
published on November 2nd, 2010 by Razorbill
Young Adult | Science Fiction | Mystery
find the book on
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.
Do you have any “guilty pleasure” reads?
Zoe is a critical reviewer. When she’s not reviewing, you can find her performing in plays / musicals, doing gymnastics, or designing websites.