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 have a confession to make: while I’ve read several of the Temperance Brennan novels by Kathy Reichs, it’s the TV show Bones I really like. There’s something about the camaraderie of the characters on the show that’s really appealing to me.
And, as I’ve mentioned before (in one of my first reviews on this blog, actually!), I’m not particularly fond of the gothic damsel-in-distress style that Reichs sometimes uses in the Brennan series. Personally, I think even one “had I but known …” is one too many, and the Brennan books tend to have more than just one.
But I couldn’t resist the premise behind Virals. A group of teenagers who catch a virus that turns them into wolves? Beautiful!
I’m happy to say, Reichs writes with a very authentic YA voice in Virals – and there’s not a single “had I but known” in sight, thank goodness. The novel gripped me from the start – I read it in ebook format, first on my iPhone, and then the concluding chapters on my iPad (with too long a stretch in between due to work deadlines).
Tory is a great character. She’s sure of herself, but not sure of herself, in that lovable way that’s true of many of the teenagers I know. She’s smart and quick-thinking. And funny.
The team she forms with her three friends is a true team. I found myself rooting for them from the very beginning. And there’s a lot of smart-ass, make-you-smile dialogue, the kind of conversations that, if you live with teenagers, make you nod your head and say to yourself, “Now, didn’t I hear that just the other day?”
My only problem with Virals came at the end. I would have preferred a different ending, with the “villain” of the place acting in a smarter, more credible way. Still, it was a galloping good read, the kind of novel that’s really difficult to put down.
And yes, I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel.