From the looks of my book reviews you would think all I ever read was fantasy, but I promise I read more than that! However, this book too is a fantasy / science fiction book. It is also considered “Young Adult” by this particular librarian.
It seems that more and more Adult Fiction authors (especially mystery writers) are turning to the Young Adult level of writing as their new creative outlet. In the past couple of years we have seen John Grisham, Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer; James Patterson, the Dangerous Days of Daniel X series and Witch and Wizard series; Faye Kellerman, Prism; and Ridley Pearson, Steele Trap and the Kingdom Keepers series. Now Kathy Reichs has joined this genre with her newest series, Virals.
Most people would recognize the title Bones from television, but what is not quite as well known is that the series is based on the Temperence Brennan books by Kathy Reichs. Reichs who really does have the background of forensic anthropologist has had her Brennan series firmly grounded in mystery, intrigue and scientific fact. Her new book, Virals, steps outside those bounds and is more mystery, intrigue and scientific fantasy. The book Virals is not about Dr. Brennan, but there is a link to her in the form of her niece Tory Brennan.
I liked this book. I had put off reading it because I was afraid that it would be the typical cliché of young adult novels. Girl meets weird guy, finds out weird guy is some fantasy creature, falls in love with him. Angst ensues. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised; the story does not fit the recipe at all!
Tory has recently moved to an island outside Charleston, S.C. where she lives with her father, a scientific researcher for the University of Charleston. They in turn live in a compound with other scientists and their families. There are only four teenagers on this island and they stick together, sort of like a pack. They go to school together, by boat. They are ostracized together, by the other kids at the exclusive school they attend. They hang out together, in a secret, underground bunker. They invent their own entertainment together, like visiting the remote facility where their parents work to visit the wild monkey population and the wolf dog pack. It is at this facility that the mystery begins, where an animal is rescued, where they are exposed to the virus, and where there are secrets that some would prefer to keep buried.
Are you intrigued? You should be.
Tory is a likable heroine, and the rest of the member of her pack play their parts well. There is the bad boy (Ben), the clown (Shelton), the brain (Hi) and Tory. While the story revolves around Tory, the other characters are key and you learn a bit about them and how they think. I’m not sure exactly how to go into detail on what I really liked about this book without spoiling it for you, and I’m not gonna do that (this time). But, another thing I liked was that while you read the book it becomes obvious who the real bad guy is, but you get a HUGE surprise during the big action scene! Someone is very involved in sinister happenings that you do not and will not expect! I was shocked (and that takes a lot). The ending implies that this is only the first in a series of books. I, for one, am looking forward to book 2.
This book should be on most AR reading lists (if you have to ask what AR is, you probably don’t need to know). If it’s not on a list now, it should be soon (after all, the book did just come out last November). I would recommend this book for pre-teens (who are advanced readers) and up who like a light fantasy / science fiction. It is what I would consider a pretty clean read, although they do allude to a sexual situation by one of the supporting characters (not one of the 4 main characters). Nothing graphic.
This book should be found at your local library, and is also available in several mediums including paper, eBook and audio formats from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. If your library does not own this book, you should ask if they have a book adoption program or if you could donate this title to their collection. It is a book that kids will read because they want to and not because it’s being forced down their throats (if they happen to like this genre).
This photo is from Amazon.com.