Tory Brennen is good at science (which isn’t surprising since her aunt is Temperence Brennen, renowned forensic anthropologist), but also good at getting into trouble. When she and her friends Hi, Shelton, and Ben find an old dog tag while searching for a wolf-dog family on Loggerhead Island, an island off Charleston, SC that houses a facility for sea turtle research, Tory sets off a chain of events that not only endanger her life and the lives of her friends, but also change their genetic makeup. When Tory and her friends sneak into LIRI, the research facility where her dad works, to borrow the lab’s equipment to clean the dog tag she found, they end up rescuing a wolf-dog puppy that has been infected with a mutated strain of Parvovirus that can be passed to humans. Now, in addition to trying to save the puppy, they are also fighting an illness that is mutating their DNA and giving them “powers” similar to those of a wolf, and she and her friends have stumbled across a decades-old murder mystery that could bring down one of Charleston’s most powerful families, that is, if it doesn’t get them all killed first.
Virals is the first book in a series of young adult books by Kathy Reichs, author of the Temperance Brennan novels and inspiration for the television series Bones. Fans of the no-nonsense Brennan portrayed on Bones may be put off a bit by the element of supernatural of this series. Tory and her friends develop “superpowers” after being exposed to the experimental parvovirus; powers like super strength, smell, vision, and hearing. I enjoy watching Bones and I enjoyed Virals, but I couldn’t help but hear the TV Brennan whispering, “This doesn’t make sense. It’s not logical.” If you can get past the voice of TV Brennan, Virals is quite an exciting ride.
The story is written for teens, so you get lots of teen situations. There is quite a bit of profanity, so I would not recommend it for anyone younger than middle school. You can learn more about all the books in the Virals series at http://kathyreichs.com/virals/.