Title: Virals (Virals #1)
Author: Kathy Reichs
Genre: Science Fiction
Tory Brennan is a science geek, and so are her friends, Ben, Hi, and Sheldon. The four of them have grown up exploring the backwoods marshlands of Loggerhead Island, home of the mysterious Loggerhead Research Institute. When a fifty-year-old murder leads Tory and her friends to discover a wolfdog pup being held captive at the institute, they hatch a plot to bust him out. But the scientists have already experimented on the dog – and Tory and her friends catch an experimental strain of parvovirus. Now, with their very DNA altered, they have skills that no normal humans have. But that might not be enough to save them when a cold-blooded murderer has caught their scent…
I picked this up because I saw the sequel in the store and thought it looked interesting, and I have a policy of not reading book two until I’ve read book one. So when I recognized the title on the library shelf, I grabbed it without really looking at it.
I was slightly worried when a quote on the front compared Virals to Maximum Ride. Even thought it was James Patterson doing the comparison, I absolutely LOVE Maximum Ride, and I thought it couldn’t be nearly as good.
But, happily, I was disappointed.
In case you’re confused, let me say this straight out: I loved Virals. There were some similarities to Maximum Ride, but nothing so drastic that I thought it was a total rip-off, and nothing so blatantly obvious that I could point to the passage and say, “Yeah, that’s just like Maximum Ride.” It had a distinctly Maximum Ride-like feel, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why.
Well, the premise was somewhat similar – regular humans with altered DNA and, because of that, superhuman abilities. That, and Tory’s unique, independent, and occasionally humorous voice was similar to Max’s.
I’m not a big science fan, so I didn’t find the sciencey part of the book as interesting as some people might. But I certainly enjoyed the murder mystery and the conspiracy plot (and the fact that you don’t find out until the climax who the baddest bad guy is – unless you’re more suspicious than me). The murder mystery part wasn’t even an average murder mystery – it was a fifty-year-old murder that was part of a huge money-making conspiracy!
I could go on and on about how astonishingly original the plot was, but I would start repeating myself after a while. So…
It’s funny, though, except for Tory, I didn’t really get a feel for any of the characters. (This didn’t take away from the book, as I only noticed it in retrospect.) I felt like Tory was the ringleader and always came up with the ideas, and the rest of the characters protested her insane schemes and then helped her anyway.
I really enjoyed Tory’s voice – she was independent, smart, bold, and not afraid to break a few rules. (Or, actually, a lot of rules – and laws, too.) And I loved how she preferred to go investigate for herself rather than ask somebody’s advice. (Sure, that got her into trouble, but that just made the book more interesting.)
This is one of those where I wish I had the sequel on hand so I could pick it up immediately after finishing it. I can’t wait to read the sequel, Seizure!
The Virals series: