Monday, November 1, 2010

Virals by Kathy Reichs

Book Details
Virals by Kathy Reichs
Hardcover, 304 Pages
2010, Razorbill
ISBN: 1595143424

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'm a big fan of Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan series as well as Bones, the TV series it's vaguely based on. When I heard about Virals, I knew I had to read it. While it's very different from her other work, Virals is very similar in both the scientific atmosphere and deep character development.

Tory Brennan is Temperance's grand-niece. For those familiar with the books, Tory is the granddaughter of Harry, Tempe's sister. Tory mentions Tempe a lot even though she only learned they were related a few months before and has only met her once. Tory is a science nut and Tempe has been her idol for much longer than she knew of the relation. The one thing that left me wondering was is it possible that Harry has a 14 year old granddaughter? I always got the feeling Harry and Tempe were in their forties from the books.

Virals sticks close to Reich's style. There are intelligent, yet easy to understand explanations of the science mentioned. The characters are believable and easily invested in. As in the Temperance Brennan series, Virals is full of never see them coming reveals.

The similarities end there. Virals has an added edge of science fiction not found in the other books. The idea, while weird, is well broached and convincingly described. The kids gain abilities and the focus is on how the abilities affect them and how they use them. Once the transformation is complete, there doesn't seem to be any downside to what they've become. The book is much more concerned with what the kids are capable of rather than the seemingly "supernatural" creatures they become. I find this take with the genre leaning more science fiction than paranormal extremely well done.

In Virals the mystery of what the kids are becoming is only part of the whole. The true mystery involves a long missing girl and the hunt for her killer. As these things usually go, the adults don't believe the kids and the kids refuse to stop until they find the truth, placing them in grave danger. The abilities the kids gain aid in solving the mystery and in keeping them from harm during the investigation. The missing girl mystery was a bit obvious but there were a few surprising twists along the way.

Virals is a very promising start to a new series with the possibility of being amazing as long as the focus stays on the abilities and the science. I'm excited by the premise and will definitely be looking out for the next book.



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