Tory Brennan is as fascinated by bones and dead bodies as her famous aunt, acclaimed forensic anthropologist, Tempe Brennan. However living on a secluded island off Charleston in South Carolina there is not much opportunity to put her knowledge to the test. Until she and her group of technophile friends stumble across a shallow grave containing the remains of a girl who has been missing for over thirty years.
With the cold-case murder suddenly hot, Tory realises that they are involved in something fatally dangerous. And when they rescue a sick dog from a laboratory on the same island, it becomes evident that somehow the two events are linked.
On the run from forces they don’t understand, they have only each other to fall back on. Until they succumb to a mysterious infection that heightens their senses and hones their instincts to impossible levels. Their illness seems to have changed their very biology – and suddenly it’s clear that the island is home to something well beyond their comprehension. It’s a secret that has driven men to kill once. And will drive them to kill again…
Now, I know good old Kathy from her Tempe Brennan series. This was a series where the first books were amazing but then, as the series progressed, got a tad too detailed into subjects that bored me and I had lost interest in the characters. I think that it was halfway through ‘Deadly Voyage’ that we finally parted ways. It was with surprise, intrigue and hope then, that I picked up ‘Virals’ from the library. I was interested in seeing whether this was another Adult fiction author trying to milk the, what is now incredibly lucrative, cash cow that is Young Adult fiction or whether Kathy had a story to tell that suited this genre best?
The female protagonist in this book is Tempe Brennan’s niece, Tory. Amusingly, because of the connection, so many ‘adults’ have purchased this book assuming that it is a continuation of the Tempe Brennan series and then slammed this book for not being so. Whilst Tempe is mentioned as is clearly idolised by her niece, that is about the extent of her role within the book and will most probably remain as such in the series as a distant figure, due to the fact that the book is very much a preternatural, science fiction based read.
The main characters are an intelligent bunch of young teenagers who, thanks to being the only children of their age, are living on an island that is closely connected to the mainland. They find themselves isolated geographically and socially from their more affluent, mainland peers. But that’s okay as at the moment they’re happier being a tight social unit, playing on nearby islands that house research facilities, that, believe it or not are doing unlicensed experiments on animals. They then save a sick ‘Wolfdog puppy’, subject to unknown experiments, not realising that he is contagious.
I found this book very slow to get into. Too much narrative was used in places i.e, unless you’re a budding marine biologist do you really want to read half a page dedicated to how to clean a shell properly? I found it to be very cliched, maybe that’s due to being older and potentially much more cynical than the intended age range? It was also surprising just how many big words are in the book that even I didn’t understand. The argument could be though that Kathy is trying to not be patronising towards the younger reader or that I am not as clever as I think I am!
Verdict : An enjoyable yet not the most thrilling of reads in this genre. I am glad that I borrowed it from the library instead of purchasing. I will however give it the benefit of doubt and read the next book in the series as there is potential, now that the foundations have been laid, for the series to greatly improve.
Reviewed by Karen