Author: Kathy Reichs
Series: Virals #1
Published: Nov. 2, 2010
Pages: 464 (hardcover)
I purchased this book at Half-Priced Books.
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 a 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. --Goodreads
As a die-hard fan of the show, Bones, I'm sort of ashamed to admit that this is my first Kathy Reichs book. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Bones universe, the TV show is loosely based off of a series of books written by Kathy Reichs. The main character, Temperance Brennan, is a world renowned anthropologist who uses her talents to solve murder mysteries. Virals is a spin off series of that world and the first YA novel that Reichs has written. Though, to be perfectly honest, I never would have guessed that it was her first. Not only did it have an intriguing plot with great characters, but the writing was fast-paced, quick to the point, and easy to get swept up in, like any YA novel should be.
The book stars Tory, Temperance Brennan's niece. Like her aunt, she has a thing for anthropology/biology and was a totally delightful character to follow. I cannot stress enough how much of a relief it was not to have a main character who was insecure, boy crazy, or totally dependent upon the other people around her. Instead, Tory is strong, confident, wicked smart (after all, she is Temperance Brennan's niece), and a bit of a tomboy. As a fellow science geek, I had oodles of fun watching her and her friends, Hi, Ben, and Shelton, break into places and use their brains to solve the problems at hand. In addition, even though Tory was the only girl in their posse, her friendship with the boys felt genuine. It was easy to see why the pack of them were so close even before they actually became a pack. Though there wasn't much hot and steamy action on the romance front, Reichs has laid hints for future relationships which will probably be explored in the second book.
The plot itself was great--a perfect blend of mystery and action. Even though paranormal books are far from rare in the YA world, finding paranormal books that actually explain the science behind the paranormal activity are. Reichs puts her anthropological expertise to work and logically explains why the kids have transformed the way that they have after they contract the genetically engineered K-9 parvovirus. It was nice to see them transform into creatures less like wolves and more like humans with super powers, which they used to solve the previously cold-case at the end.
This was one of those books that I devoured in a day. Every second was exciting, mysterious, and intelligent. By the end, I was sad that it was over. I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel when it finally comes out (which, according to Goodreads, is in October). In addition, rumor has it that Virals might be made into a TV series. Here's crossing my fingers that it comes true! I would love to see Tory in Booth and Brennan's world. Who knows? Maybe her and her friends will be contracted with the FBI/Jeffersonian to help solve crimes! Anyway, the bottom line is that the book was awesome, and you should pick it up now if you're into superhero paranormal murder mysteries with awesome characters, lots of science, and lots of action. You won't be disappointed!