Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Page Count: 464 (hardcover)
Released: November 2010
Recommended for: fans of Bones, fans of the Maximum Ride series
(from Goodreads): Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage "sci-philes" who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.
As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer's scent.
Fortunately, they are now more than friends they're a pack. They are Virals.
I've only ever seen glimpses of the TV series Bones over my mom's shoulder, so I didn't begin reading Virals with any especially high expectations the way some of the hardcore fans I know might. After finishing Kathy Reich's first YA novel, though, I'm definitely going to catch the show over winter break.
Protagonist Tory Brennan is one smart girl. She's the niece of Bones star Temperance Brennan-- which is only mentioned, say, a dozen times in the first half of the book. ;) Not-so-casual name-dropping aside, Tory's story is fast-paced without skimming over details the way the Maximum Ride series often does. I've heard Tory compared to Max, and the series to James Patterson's Maximum Ride before, and I have to say I agree. There are more than a few similarities: kids who somehow have animal DNA which gives them supernatural powers... even the cover shot of Tory running through the woods reminded me of Max running from the Erasers. Anyway, end of drabble. Long story short, Virals is like a smarter, better-plotted Maximum Ride, with a murder mystery thrown in for good measure.
Tory's friends Hi, Shelton, and Ben add some humor and sidekick-ing to this potent mix of crime, science, and teenage rebellion. Together they make up Tory's Pack-- I like how she is the unquestioned leader-- but alone, they're not really brilliantly realized characters. Hardly more than a hint of romance, for those of you were wondering, despite the three guys. The action shoots off on the first page and hardly even pauses for breath during the 463 pages that follow. I read this book in less than two days-- it's a quick read despite its thickness. The chapters are fairly short, too, once again reminiscent of Max Ride. The twist ending caught me completely unawares.
All in all, I really enjoyed Virals-- it was one of the most fun books I've read all year. I think I'll be passing this one along in an upcoming giveaway, so stay tuned.
My Rating: 4/5