Published: November 2010
Source: I purchased this book at a local book sale.
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.
I haven't read anything by Kathy Reichs before, but I loved the concept for Virals so I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did - this was great! Fast-paced, with lots of great twists and tension. I don't watch Bones but I watch a ton of true crime shows and I enjoyed the forensics elements of the story. I loved the transformation the teens went through and the old Animorphs fan in me was fully psyched about the animal connection and the fact that the group of friends became their own little pack. Love it.
The setting for this book was perfect. A lot of YA books feature teens who seem to have little to no parental supervision, which can be very convenient to the plot but also a little unrealistic. The teens in Virals have a lot of freedom too, but there are reasons for this freedom - first, their parents are important (and busy!) university scientists so they're legitimately not around enough to be totally on top of what their kids are up to. Second, they live together in university housing on a small island where everyone knows everyone. I think in that kind of a self-contained environment, a lack of parental involvement makes sense because there is a sense of safety. And even with those factors, the parents are still more interested and involved than is often seen in YA literature. This gets a huge thumbs up from me.
Lastly, I really enjoyed the friendship dynamics in this group of teens. I've picked up the next book in the series and I can't wait to see how these friendships grow and evolve over the rest of the series. Virals was a strong start for me so I have high hopes for the rest of the series!
“Why do all your brilliant ideas involve felonies?”
“An elite confederacy of nerds. My peeps.”
Have you read any of Kathy Reich's books before?
What did you think of Virals?