Title: Virals (Virals #1)
Author: Kathy Reichs
On the Shelves: YA fiction- YA Paranormal, YA Thriller
“Tory Brennan is as fascinated by bones and dead bodies as her famous aunt, acclaimed forensic anthropologist, Tempe Brennan. However living on a secluded island off Charleston in South Carolina there is not much opportunity to put her knowledge to the test. Until she and her group of technophile friends stumble across a shallow grave containing the remains of a girl who has been missing for over thirty years.
With the cold-case murder suddenly hot, Tory realises that they are involved in something fatally dangerous. And when they rescue a sick dog from a laboratory on the same island, it becomes evident that somehow the two events are linked.
On the run from forces they don’t understand, they have only each other to fall back on. Until they succumb to a mysterious infection that heightens their senses and hones their instincts to impossible levels. Their illness seems to have changed their very biology – and suddenly it’s clear that the island is home to something well beyond their comprehension. It’s a secret that has driven men to kill once. And will drive them to kill again…”( Goodreads 2014)
Way, way back in 2005, I was watching shows like CSI, Criminal Minds, and Veronica Mars. At the time, I was 15, making career choices for school and criminology was the field that interested me (got my Undergrad degree in Criminology, thank ya very much- sucks to be you school adviser, who said I wasn’t SMRT enough. Hah.)
Anyway, it was around this time that the show Bones aired in the UK for the first time. It caught my eye because it seemed so different to the crime shows which were already on air. The show follows the cases of Doctor Temperance Brennan as she helps the FBI solve murder cases where the bodies are too destroyed to supposedly be identifiable. The show is super enjoyable, for those who have an interest in crime shows and haven’t checked it out yet- the casting and characters are well chosen, well written and highly memorable. In my opinion, the show went downhill after season 5, so I pretend it ended there….however, the show is not what this blog is to discuss….
This show is written by Kathy Reichs, the author of this book series and the Dr Tempe Brennan series. Reichs is a professional forensic anthropologist herself, one of only seventy-seven in the United States (it’s a bit of a scarce field). Virals, however, is Reich’s first footsteps into the elusive Young Adult genre, while still writing in her regular crime fiction/forensic anthropology genres.
Virals follows a teenage girl named Tory Brennan, the niece of the famous forensic anthropologist, Dr Temperance Brennan, who has recently moved to a remote neighbourhood stationed on a university island to live with her estranged father after her mother died in a car accident the previous year. The island where they live is part of a small group of islands off the coast of Charleston, and the population isn’t very big, mainly just the university staff and their kids. Tory and her motley crew- Hi, Shelton and Ben, wind up rescuing a puppy who has been taken illegally to be tested on by a scientist when they become infected by a variant, new strain of Parvo virus- not usually infectious to humans, until now.
This essentially becomes something of a paranormal crime thriller, and Reich’s writing is brilliant and intense all throughout the story. While it is a little bit of a slow starter, by 50 pages in, the plot kicks in and it doesn’t stop once it gets going. I personally found the book might have been better without the epilogue which seemed a bit overly cheesy, but with how much I enjoyed the book itself as a whole, I’ve lived through worse as a reader.
Tory is an enjoyable, realistic teenage character- who is as smart as Reichs lets her be- she isn’t too whiny or annoying or vain or selfish- but just enough to be believable and not irritating, which is a fine balance in YA lit! There is plenty of world building and depth to the other characters, although not as much as there could be- I’m guessing since this is a series there will be a lot more background added to the other characters as the stories continue with Seizure, which I will be getting and reading very soon!
I’m not normally a fan of crime fiction, I find it reads too…slow for me, the pace doesn’t keep well unlike when you watch crime dramas on the television- but Reichs seems to have found a niche here, and I’m not only going to be continuing this series, but I’m also going to get her first Brennan novel “Deja Dead” and give her adult crime fiction novels a try.
Have you read Virals? Let me know what you thought!