Virals by Kathy Reichs

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Virals by Kathy Reichs

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: The debut young adult novel by acclaimed crime writer Kathy Reichs has more sci-fi and less mystery than her other books - but is still worth checking out. The fantastic climax has me eagerly waiting to read book 2!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: May 2011
Publisher: Arrow (Young)
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780099543930

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Tory Brennan is just a normal girl with an extraordinary aunt - the renowned forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan. Desperate to follow in her relative's footsteps, she seems to have little opportunity to do so living in South Carolina - but that quickly changes when she and her friends stumble on a decades old corpse. Desperately trying to find out what happened to the dead person, and cure a sick dog they've liberated from a laboratory on their island home, the quartet's lives have suddenly become rather complicated. And that's before a mysterious virus hits them all and leaves them with some very strange side effects...

First things first, this is connected to Kathy Reichs' adult books through the relationship between the two main characters but from what I can gather - having never read any of her others - is a rather different style, focusing more on the adventure aspect, with a touch of sci-fi, than the mystery part. I've seen several harsh reviews from adult fans who apparently hadn't realised it was a YA book and clearly went into it with different expectations than I did, coming to it as a first time Reichs reader. (To be fair, the hardback definitely looks more like an adult novel than a YA book and the publishers should have anticipated people getting confused here.) If you approach it with an open mind, I'm fairly sure you'll find it an enjoyable sci-fi thriller. Tory is a strong main character, her friends are a little on the generic side but reasonably well drawn, and the two love interests at school are interesting characters. I thought it was a bit slow to really get going - there's a fantastic prologue where we see Tory and her friends escaping from people who are shooting at them, but we're then taken back to see how they got to this situation and it takes a little longer than I'd have liked to get there. Similarly, we find out early on that Tory and her friends 'evolve', which is intriguing, but this doesn't actually happen until a long way in.

That said, once the action does get going properly it's fast and furious. With some incredibly tense scenes leading up to a superb climax, it's easy to see why Reichs is such a popular writer. I also appreciated the ending being an actual ending which wrapped everything up properly rather than a cliffhanger - but I'll definitely be picking up a copy of book 2, Seizure, as soon as I get a chance.

Recommended to fans of exciting thrillers and strong female narrators. Adult fans of Reichs, please be aware that it may not be what you're used to - but give it a chance and you'll hopefully enjoy it!

For another exciting thriller with a fabulous female lead, check out one of my favourite reads of the year so far, The Repossession by Sam Hawksmoor. We also have a review of Reichs' Speaking in Bones.

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This review was kindly given to us by the ever-generous Ya Yeah Yeah.


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