Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Exposed and Fabulous

Some kids just can't help themselves. They find themselves in trouble regardless of where they go or what they do. Tory Brennan seems to be drawn to the craziest situations like a moth to a flame. In the fourth Virals book by Kathy and Brendan Reichs, Exposure, Tory and the other Virals find themselves caught between life and death... again! 

After the Gamemaster was stopped and the Virals found out their pack member Ben was helping him, nothing has been the same. Ben was expelled and lives with his mother, which makes it easy for Tory, Hi, and Shelton to avoid him. The problem is, even if they feel betrayed by Ben, they still never feel whole without him. He is the fifth member of the pack with the three kids and Tory's wolf-dog Coop. When the pack is apart, their powers are disjointed. When twins from school are kidnapped and the killer leaves a Zodiac card behind, Tory and the others just can't help themselves. They have to investigate. Even with everyone from their parents to the headmaster to the police watching them after their involvement with the Gamemaster, they can't help themselves. They know they can find things the investigators overlooked. 

The problem is, they do find clues to the disappearance of the twins, and when they realize the police aren't making any real progress, they can't help themselves but get further involved. The deeper they get, the more they realize the story behind this kidnapping isn't what it appears to be. To make matters worse, their separation and struggles within the pack have left their powers a little wonky. Now, when they flare, it feels like the flare is completely consuming them. When hunting a kidnapper, there is nothing worse than going from 100 to 0 in 10 seconds flat. Now the pack is in danger, but can they get themselves out of this one?

These books are so much fun and so adventurous, it is hard not to get sucked into them. Each time these kids get sucked into another dangerous adventure, I know I should be skeptical, but I just don't care that in reality, their parents would have left this island already. I just love how much fun the story is! And it really is fun. From start to finish, you know they are going to get into trouble, they are going to work together as a pack, and by golly, those bad guys are going to get what is coming to them! On a whole, the stories are predictable, but their bits and pieces are not. There are always twists and turns around each corner to keep you hooked, which is why I love them so much. 

I love these books for mature middle readers. They are fun, exciting, easy reads, and fabulous for strong middle readers. Because they are just clean, fun stories, you don't have to be afraid to give them to an inappropriate reader. My one complaint was toward the end when the pack was split, the narrator remained first person but it jumped from Tory to Hi and back and forth. It took me a while to figure out who on earth was speaking, and it would certainly confuse unfamiliar readers. I wish there was a better way to acknowledge the narrator at that point. Otherwise, you are going to love them all- Tory, Hi, the rest of the pack, even scary Whitney! And when you get to the end, you will be delighted to find out there most certainly HAS to be another book!

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