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.
Y'all, this one had me on the edge of my seat. Seriously. I listen to audiobooks in two main ways - my car on my commute to and from work and on my iPod as I'm waiting to fall asleep.** Well, SOMETIMES I can fall asleep listening to an audiobook. But for Virals, that was just not going to happen.
I have never read any of Kathy Reichs's other books and I have never really watched Bone (I think I have seen maybe one or two episodes), but this story was a wild, fun ride and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love that Virals stars a kick-butt heroine who's running with the boys instead of sitting at home planning her cotillion dress. Now, yeah, this isn't great literature, but I enjoyed it so much that I didn't mind suspending my disbelief pretty far. I can't wait to booktalk it to my teens because I think they are really going to dig it, too.
I think the book worked well in an audiobook format. I appreciated Cristin Milioti's somewhat husky voice that's different from the typical teen girl voice that a lot of narrators use in YA audiobooks. She does a nice job of keeping characters separate, although she does make some odd choices as far as accents. Some characters have a deep Southern drawl, while others speak Standard American English with seemingly no rhyme or reason to it. The audio effects are nicely done (and poor use of effect really grates on my nerves). Music swells to a fever pitch as Tory and her friends discover a human body buried on one of the islands and a metallic sound precedes each of the Virals' flashes as their animal super-senses switch on.
I'd hand this to teen science fiction fans, particularly fans of Margaret Peterson Haddix's Found series or kids who liked the Animorphs series in elementary school.
Virals is on shelves now!
*I know, I know, I'm sorry. I almost always write my own summary, but it's Summer Reading Club and the publisher just said it way better than I ever could. Sorry.
**I am a TERRIBLE sleeper. Having something to distract me from my stupid brain really helps. I <3 the Audible app and its sleep timer.
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