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.
From Penguin Canada website.
I’m a HUGE fan of Kathy Reichs’. I’ve read all of her Tempe Brennan books and I am slightly addicted to Bones. So when I heard that she was writing a new series for teens, I was stoked. And the fact that there was a bit of supernatural to the story? Even better.
So you can imagine my excitement when a review copy came. I was so excited, in fact, that I held off reading it for awhile. Weird, I know, but what can I say? I figured it was going to be so amazing, so awesome that I’d be upset once I finished it.
When I finally decided to pick it up and read it, I wasn’t quite as taken with the story as I had been hoping. While I did enjoy it, I wasn’t in love with it. There was one thing that seemed a bit off to me, and that kinda stopped me from totally loving Virals.
Okay, Tori is 14 and her friends are 15 and 16. But some of the things they say and do struck me as things younger kids would say and do. It’s not that they were poorly written characters, it’s just that I had a bit of a hard time believing some of the dialogue.
Okay, towards the end of the book, once they all realize they’re “virals”, Tori gets the ability to talk to the others telepathically. Which is cool. But at one point she says “Virals, flash!”. Now I don’t know if teens their age would actually refer to themselves as Virals. It rang a bit false to me. I think I know what Reichs was trying to do, but for me it just didn’t work.
*END OF SPOILER*
Don’t get me wrong: there were things that I loved about Virals. I loved the fact that younger kids will get a chance to learn about forensics and science in general. I loved that this was a mystery that was pretty smart and not at all easy to figure out. I also loved that while there were elements of the supernatural, it was all based in hardcore science.
I think this is a book that younger kids, say 12-14 are really going to like. As for older teens, I’m not so sure. Once I decided that this would be better suited for the younger crowd, some of the issues of what Tori and her friends say and do disappeared and I enjoyed the book a lot more.
As a middle grade, young teen book this is a top notch read and I highly recommend it. I actually can’t wait to see what happens in the next book in the series.