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Virals
Kathy Reichs
Razorbill, 464 pages

Virals
Kathy Reichs
Kathy Reichs burst onto the fiction scene in the late 1990s with her first novel, Déjà Dead, a thriller rooted in an expert knowledge of science and medicine and powered by a strong female protagonist, Temperance Brennan. Since then, Reichs has been a regular feature on bestseller lists.

Kathy Reichs Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Dan Shade

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Virals is Kathy Reich's first young adult novel. Reichs is famous for her Temperence Brennan novels upon which the television show Bones is based. Just for fun, after completing Virals, I read Reich's novel Death Du Jour and see why she is the rage. Virals was not quite up to par but a good read just the same.

There are several plot lines running but first some background. We find ourselves in the company of four 12- to 14-year-olds. Tory Brennan, Temperance Brennan's niece, is the youngest and the only female in the group. Ben, Hi, and Tory make up the rest of the pack. They are all science and sci-fi geeks and the luckiest kids in the world. Their parents are an elite group of scientists from the University of South Carolina who are fortunate enough to live on Loggerhead Island, off the coast of South Carolina, which is all but deserted except for the research labs, a small pack of dog/wolf mixes, and a bunch of Rhesus monkeys who seem to have lived on the island since escaping from the labs many years ago. Although restricted, the kids run the island as they please. They even have a bunker for headquarters that dates back to the War Between the States (I'm a Southern boy, the rest of you call it the Civil War).

The story really begins when Tory finds a dog tag and becomes obsessed with reading the name on it. The four break into the university labs to clean the tag and search for a wolf/dog cub, which has disappeared. In doing so they catch a virus from secret/illegal research, which is being conducted there, and begin to mutate. The kids are also investigating a murder, which leads to a Temperence Brennan type search, discovery, and exhumation of a skeleton. So the kids have their hands full avoiding the university professors, curing the lost dog, and locating a murderer.

Reich's brings her considerable writing skills and history to this story. Writing all the Temperence Brennan books have set her up nicely to move into young adult. She made the transition well. Nothing was too gross or too complicated. In fact, I think the mix was just right. My 12-year old daughter has read the book twice now. I am looking forward to the continued series that I know will come from the success of this book.

Copyright © 2011 by Dan Shade

Dan Shade is a retired college professor who loves to read young adult science fiction, fantasy, and horror. But he doesn't draw the line there. He also enjoys writing science fiction and hopes to publish someday. In the meantime, you can find him at lostbooks.org (under construction).


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