Readinista's Reviews > Virals

Virals by Kathy Reichs
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Dec 19, 11

bookshelves: v, 2011-reads
Read from November 15 to 21, 2011

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I have mixed feelings for Virals. I really wanted to like it more than I actually did. I think I had high expectations going into the book and then was slightly disappointed when it wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. If I gave half stars, I would probably give this book 3.5 stars but in this case I rounded up to 4. Overall, I thought it was a creative and original story and it held my interest consistently but there was something missing.

Compared to other popular Young Adult novels of the day, Virals is distinctly unique. It stars a mystery solving group of teenage friends that get themselves into way too much trouble. The four friends are children of employees at Loggerhead Island Research Institute, and spend their free time on Loggerhead Island exploring. When on a mission to find a lost wolf-dog, the groups stumbles into a science experiment gone wrong and expose themselves to a canine virus. The group uncovers more than bargained for and are compelled to unravel even more mysteries putting their lives at risk over and over again.

There’s no question that Kathy Reich is a solid writer and great story teller. Her story was compelling and I often found it hard to hit the pause button (audiobook). I feel the book is best described as reminiscent of Nancy Drew and Harvey Brothers with a super hero/mutation flare. It looks like Virals was her first young adult book and compared to her adult novels I think she dumbed it down a bit for the younger audience. It was a clever story with smart characters but it definitely felt young, the equivalent of the PG movie. That isn’t bad a thing, but since I am an adult, it felt young for my personal taste. This book would be great for middle school age kids and older.

The main thing that got a little under my skin were the multiple boys that showed romantic interest in Tory and then nothing ever came of it. There were a few scenes that made it explicitly known that three boys liked Tory and she even makes note that two of the boys are seemingly acting territorial over her. The lack of romance is not normally a big deal for me and little to no romance doesn’t ruin a book for me, but why note it if you aren’t going to do anything with it. That said, I also want to note that Tory was a strong female character who’s life didn’t revolve around the boys in her life. Love wasn’t her main interest, solving the mystery was. I appreciated this quality in Tory as many YA heroines are very boy focused. In fact, Tory almost had the opposite of boy vision, she didn’t even notice when one of the boys was trying to date to her. On the other hand she does like one boy, but he’s taken

Part of me feels that a little romance might have helped this book by making the characters seem more real. The main characters are in a constant state of fear or stress and romantic emotions often help balance out the characters and the book. As a reader, I felt like I was left hanging, wondering why there are hints of a possible romance only to be disappointed in the end. Maybe a relationship will develop in the next books to explain the purpose of the scenes featured in the first book.

Overall, Virals is a fun book. It’s different, intriguing, and good for all ages. Reich leaves it open for a sequel and I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next book. I have to admit I am interested in finding out what happens and I might end up getting the sequel.
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