Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Virals, by Kathy Reichs

Copy borrowed from library.
Another book saved by the lunch hour. We are physically incapable of just sitting and eating, we must be sitting and eating with a book in hand. Every once in a while we, miraculously, don't have any errands to run during our lunch hour. We settle in to our seat in the lounge with lunch and a book and a don't-bug-me-until-12:59 expression.

Sometimes, the book we have grabbed doesn't live up to our first impression. We might normally set it aside, but that would mean either a) not having anything to read, or b) having to waste precious minutes finding another book. Neither is acceptable, so we usually push on.

At first, it looked like Virals was going to hit several of our Top Ten from yesterday. This could easily have gone afoul of the lack-of-science pet peeve, as well as the extraneous romantic figures. There was also a pet peeve we didn't mention: irritating speech patterns. Not so much when Tory is talking, but when she is narrating nearly every other paragraph ends with a funny 'aside'. Which stops being funny after the tenth time.

Fortunately, our mild irritation and pessimism did not last as long as lunchtime, and we were intrigued enough by the end of the hour to take the book home - and then hooked enough to stay up and finish it. The science was just vague enough to be reasonably plausible - yes, diseases can certainly be mutated, although we don't know of any that cause the host to take on other species' characteristics. Some of the characters were  right out of a stock file - we did not believe in Hannah at all, sorry, and both Jason and Chance were cardboard cutouts - but what looked like an obvious love/hate relationship at first did not materialize, for which we are grateful. Yes, there were romantic interests, but they existed to move the plot in a certain direction.

The ending held a few surprises for us, mostly in what didn't happen. We thought a certain dead person wasn't really dead and was still controlling things, for example. Looks like he's pretty much dead. Of course, there are still plenty of loose ends to make a sequel obvious. Will the character who lost it at the end return to take up where, ah...another character left off? Will that person want revenge? (Trying to avoid spoilers here!) What is Whitney's deal? Why is she with Kit? Is there a point to the whole debutante thing, or is Reichs just throwing that in because she thinks it will appeal more to teenage girls? Oh, that does bring up another pet peeve avoided - minimal descriptions of clothing, also much appreciated.

We haven't read Reich's adult novels, but we know they are popular. As her first foray into YA fiction, she seems to be feeling her way about. We recommend a sounding board of actual teens and YA bloggers for her next attempt - this series has good potential, if it can avoid some common pitfalls-slash-stereotypes. We give this first one a

3 out of 5.

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.

1 comment:

  1. You know, I really just didn't enjoy Virals. It didn't stand out to me as anything phenomenal. It's good, but I didn't think it was great. Good review, though!