Title: Virals (Virals #1)Author: Kathy Reichs
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Version Read: Paperback (library)
Publication Date: August 23rd, 2011
Categories: young-adult, sci-fi, crime, mystery, science
Summary (Goodreads): Adventure is in Tory Brennan’s blood. After all, she’s the grandniece of world-famous forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Always up for a challenge, Tory and her science-geek friends spend their time exploring the marshlands of Loggerhead Island, home to the very off-limits Loggerhead Island Research Institute, where something strange is going on. After rescuing a stray wolfdog pup from a top-secret lab, Tory and her friends are exposed to a rare strain of canine parvovirus, changing them–and their DNA–forever. Now they are more than friends. They are a pack. They are Virals. And they’re dangerous to the core. But are they unstoppable enough to catch a cold-blooded murderer?
I liked Virals. It’s a crime-mystery novel without a lot of the gory parts that you find in adult crime novels, so great for younger teens who are into science and mystery. Also the teenagers in it are normal, everyday teenagers. Tory is a likeable character and a fairly reliable narrator. She’s very strong-willed too, which must be a Brennan family trait.
Anyone who has read the Temperance Brennan books will instantly recognise Kathy Reichs’ writing style in these books, but not for the first few chapters. I honestly thought – wait, who wrote this again? – when I started reading, because it was a bit awkward and disjointed. Someone on Goodreads commented that they thought someone else had written the first few chapters to dumb down the book – it did seem that way a little bit. Probably the main reason why it didn’t get 4 stars.
The science is broken down nicely and is made understandable by whichever character happens to be explaining it. In particular the explanation of how Tory and her friends (Hiram – Hi for short, Shelton and Ben) became Virals was easy to understand but still made logical sense. I admit I was expecting slightly more physical changes than actually occurred, but that was really just my preconceived ideas and didn’t take away from that particular part of the storyline. The ‘virus’ and the teens’ succumbing to the virus and it’s changes to their bodies was really well written. Their reactions were just what you would expect from four teens aged 14 – 16 who are dealing with an unexpected change in their DNA.
The mysteries – the murder and the viral infection are well-handled and move along nicely once they are revealed. Virals does start off a little slowly, but builds up momentum quite quickly without rushing ahead too far. You discover things as Tory and friends are discovering them, which works quite well. They discover the answers to the mysteries by the end of the book, and you didn’t guess the whole ending from early on.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes YA fiction and mysteries/crime novels.