Thursday, 21 July 2011

Reviewed by Jen: Virals by Kathy Reichs.


Product details:
Publisher: Arrow
Release date: May 12th 2011.
Paperback, 454 pages.
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Ages: YA.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Jen

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.


When it comes to YA mysteries who better to trust than a seasoned New York Times bestselling mystery author?  Kathy Reichs definitely fits that bill.  Not only are her Bones novels, featuring heroine Temperance Brennan, insanely popular, but also is the T.V. show spawned from the series.  Lucky for YA and mystery addicts Reichs has decided to break out of the adult mystery genre and expand her talent into the realm of YA.  The result is a fast paced and intense mystery novel.  The best of both worlds that absolutely does not disappoint!

Tory Brennan’s life has never been easy, but it was comfortable.  That is until a drunk driver kills her beloved mother and Tory is forced to move in with a father she has never met.  To make matters worse Kit, Tory’s newly acquired father, is a research scientist for Charleston University and lives on a remote island off the coast of South Carolina.  All of the residents of Morris Island are also employees of the University and all work on the even more remote and mysterious Loggerhead Island, which is owned by the University.  Although there are only three other teenage residents on Morris Island, and they all happen to be boys, Tory lucks out in the fact that they all share a love of science.  This common interest makes Tory one of the “guys” and the group spends their time exploring the remote landscape, especially the off limits Loggerhead Island.  It is during one of these expeditions that Tory and her friends come across two potential mysteries.  One is a secret lab that is conducting unauthorized experiments on the islands wolf dog population and the other is a set of dog tags dating back to the Vietnam War.   As Tory and the boys work to discover the owner of the dog tags they walk right into a 40 year- old murder mystery, a murder that someone would like to remain a mystery.  As if solving a 40 year-old murder is not enough, Tory still wants to know who is behind the unauthorized experiments.  These experiments have exposed Tory and her friends to a virus that will change their lives and DNA forever. 

The mystery in this novel is deftly written. Reichs does an excellent job of weaving the story lines together in a seamless plot.  At times the action is tense and often leaves the reader needing to know what will happen next.  Tory and her friends are not your average teenagers, but the difference works well because their personalities are fleshed out in such an expert manner.  It is easy for the reader to believe that this particular group of teenagers would posses the skills they do because of the way they were raised within the scientific community.  The scientific portion of the plot is in no way cumbersome to the story.  The science and the action flow together to prevent the reader from becoming bored.  Also, the murder mystery was extremely engrossing leaving me wanting the answers just as much as Tory did. 

Yet, there is more to this story than just mystery and science.  Tory is a fourteen year-old girl who has recently lost the only parent and world she has known.  Her adjustment to her new life is not perfect and she longs to be with her mother once again.  One of the complications of Tory’s life that I enjoyed the most was Whitney DuBois.  Whitney is a tried and true southern debutant and girlfriend of Tory’s father Kit.  Unable to understand why Tory, or any teenage girl, would want to run around with boys all day exploring remote islands Whitney insists that Tory join Charleston’s high society.  This of course involves dresses and dancing and acting like a lady.  Things which Tory has absolutely no use for in her life, but telling Whitney no is not an easy option. 

Virals is definitely a very well done mystery that also incorporates the coming of age aches and pains that are illustrated in many excellent YA novels.  While the characters may seem more mature than their real life counterparts they are not written in a way that will turn teen readers off to the book.  The absorbing mystery and fast paced plot twists create a tense thriller that is sure to be enjoyed by teens and adults both. 

12 comments :

  1. I liked this book but not as much as you. I thought that it just was a bit meh in sections.

    Great review thou!

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  2. I still haven't even finished reading the Temprance Brennan novels. Did not know she started writing YA though. Sounds good :)

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  3. Kathy Reichs is the one who wrote the Bones novels? I have read to read them, since I love the show.

    It's good to hear that her book for YA audience is as action packed as her other books are supposed to be. Great review!

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  4. I really need to get round to reading this...mystery, science and family sounds like a great mix... glad you liked this!

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  5. I need to read this series. I saw the sequel cover and liked it.

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  6. @Misha - I love the show too, but I have never read any of the books!

    Great review, Jen. Glad you enjoyed this one! :)

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  7. I've been wanting to read this for a while but was put off by the mixed reviews - looks like I'll have to pick it up though! It definitely sounds interesting, and I like the show Bones so hopefully I'll enjoy this too! Thanks for the great review :).

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  8. I am SO glad to see you enjoyed this one, Leanna! I just love BONES, and I felt this series was a great venture into YA. I can't wait for SEIZURE now! Fab review :)

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  9. I've had my eye on this book since I first heard about it, but that was as far as it went. Well you've just convinced me it's worth spending my money on so I'm heading over to Amazon right now :)

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  10. Sounds interesting. I've always avoided Kathy Reichs as she's one of those authors I usually see on the crime-genre tables of book stores and I'm not this into that genre. May bite the bullet and give her a go...

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  11. You know, I really just didn't enjoy Virals. It didn't stand out to me as anything phenomenal. It's good, but I didn't think it was great. Good review, though!

    Amanda

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  12. +JMJ+

    Thanks for bringing this series to my attention. I'm always looking for good YA Detective Stories and I trust that Temperance Brennan will deliver! =)

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