Monday, January 3, 2011

A Virus You Don't Want to Avoid

OK, I must admit I LOVE the television show "Bones". And no, it isn't just because David Boreanaz is adorable (although that might have something to do with it)! I love the character Temperance Brennen in all her awkward, scientific loveliness. The supporting characters are hilarious, and the cases they all solve are so interesting. Kathy Reichs writes the books the television show is based off of, but I have never read them. So when she delved into the YA genre with a story about Temperance Brennen's niece Tory, I couldn't resist. Now that I have read (and loved) Virals, I might have to pick up the dozen or so other books Reichs has written!

Tory had to move in with her father (who she never knew existed) after her mother was killed. She found out she was the niece of the famous Temperance Brennen, which explains a lot about her! Her father is also a scientist, and along with a few other families, they live on a small island outside Charleston. The only people who live on the island are the scientists who work on a nearby private island and their families. The island itself is quite unique with monkeys running free and a pack of canines with a wolf mother, a German Shepard father, and two wolfdog pups. While it is off limits to the general public, families of the scientists are welcome to visit as long as they don't roam to far.

Tory and her misfit band of friends (all their parents work on the island) are always finding themselves in some sticky situation, but when one of the wolfdog pups is missing, the same pup Tory saved once, they want to get to the bottom of the disappearance. The rest of the pack has been terrifying the lab, so they go to the island to investigate. While their, they are assaulted by the monkeys who hurl something at them (along with other projectiles)- a dog tag. The dog tag is seriously weathered and damaged, so to read the information on it, they must get into the labs where they are never supposed to be. When they sneak into the labs and clean the dog tag with the lab equipment, they hear a dog in a nearby, sealed off lab. It turns out to be the missing pup who Tory and the boys rescue and hide in their hidden bunker on the beach. What they don't know is the parvovirus the pup was infected with is a new, super strain that can pass to humans. It also comes with side-effects they could never have imagined.

Now the foursome find themselves dodging bullets, digging up bodies, suffering strange symptoms, surviving horrible illnesses, and trying to get to the bottom of a decades old murder someone doesn't want them to solve. Meanwhile, the virus they were exposed to has made them different, changed them down to their DNA... made them VIRALS!

Virals is just as I would have hoped it would be. Exciting, great characters, and tons of twists and turns. Think you have the mystery all solved? Guess again! You will never figure out how everything fits together, and when it is all revealed, you will slap your head for not seeing it earlier! The story is fun, action packed, and never ceases to keep you guessing. This is the start of a great new series that Reichs had better look like pumping out quickly, because I can't wait for the next book!

The writing is fairly simple, but the size of the book might make it more appropriate for an older crowd or a younger student who has the stamina to keep going (although the story doesn't really give you a chance to stop reading, so that might not be a problem!). The story is very clean, and just full of exciting mystery. Reichs is a genius and, like other adult authors, has finally realized the young adult genre is much more fun than those stuffy adult books they have been writing! More and more they keep trickling over to the young adult books. Pretty soon no one will be writing adult books anymore. But do you blame them? Young Adult readers rock!

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