Viral centers around two sisters; Leah & Su, and their mother, Ruth. Party girl Leah is only allowed to go on holiday to Magaluf if she takes sensible hard working Su with her. Leah tries to rekindle a lost relationship with Su the only way she knows how by trying to turn Su into a party girl, then things go horribly wrong and a video of Su goes viral. Su feeling humiliated and alone flees in search of the answer to her problems.
Viral is in essence about consequences in the age of social media, its about family and what we would do to protect our families, it is a very topical from a social commentary point of view.
Ruth, the girls mother is the most fascinating character in the narrative – her search for truth and consequently her quest for vengeance know no bounds. She runs the gauntlet of insanity and is a terrifyingly real proposition. The writing alternates between Ruth and Su which provides an interesting narrative juxtaposition.
Fitzgerald is an experienced writer and it shows, her writing style is snappy and clever, She reveals only the bare essentials but well and truly enough to advance the narrative at a pace that keeps the reader totally hooked.
Viral’s only downfall exists in a portion of the storyline that feels tacked on, unnecessary at best. ( Spoiler alert ) During Su’s journey for answers, she seeks out her birth mother whose identity is at the limits of plausibility. If this part of the narrative had been cut it might have relieved some of the pressure the plot is under during its closing stages, the narrative feels slightly rushed and somewhat hastily pulled together.
I must admit I hesitated over buying this book for months but I wish I hadn’t – its superb, I’ll recommend it lovers of fast paced, insightful, escapist fiction. I look forward to the television series which has been bought by the makers of Broadchurch and The Tunnel.