I’m a huge fan of Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series, and Virals, which introduces us to Tori, Temperance’s great-niece, has once again convinced me of Reichs’ ability to write smart characters and involved plots with wide appeal (in this case to the teen audience.)
Tori has just moved to an isolated island off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, which only houses about 10 other families who all work on nearby Loggerhead Island. The friends she makes on this island are all smart kids who love science and adventure. And what an adventure they end up having! It all starts with an old, illegible dog tag that they find while exploring Loggerhead, and this leads them to dead bodies, a kidnapped wolfdog with a deadly virus, breaking and entering several times, and of course, running from people with guns.
On top of that, they all catch this virus from the wolfdog, and it’s not just your everyday flu. This virus changes them—alters their DNA—forever. But remember, these kids are smart, and although confused at first, by the end of the story they have figured out much about these alterations and how to use them effectively.
Yes, there are parts of this book that are a little bit of a stretch, but if you let that go you are in for some genuine, heart-stopping thrills. Tori is by far the star of the story, but the other kids, Hi, Shelton, and Ben, are well-developed and each have their unique characteristics that contribute to the plot. And if you’re a dog person at all, Coop will steal your heart.
The Virals (as they call themselves) must still struggle to prevail, even though they have some extra weapons, so I was able to invest in the outcome and root for the good guys. The twists and turns kept you on your toes. I started to suspect the bad guy, but not until about three-fourths of the way through.
I’m hoping Reichs is planning to write more about the Virals. I would recommend this to anyone, teen or adult, boy or girl, who enjoys a thrilling, who-done-it adventure with lots of action. I probably wouldn’t recommend this to reluctant readers because of the length (about 450 pages) but if you can sell it, I’m sure they’d end up enjoying this one too. I couldn't put it down.
Published by Razor Bill, 2010
Copy obtained from the library
454 pages (qualifies for my 350 Page Book Challenge!)
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