Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: Virals

Virals (Virals, book 1)
By Kathy Reichs, read by Cristin Millioti
Published 2010 by Penguin Audio

Tory Brennan is the niece of famous Temperance Brennan, a renowned anthropologist. She's also kind of a loner. She lives on an island with her dad, a scientist who she has only known for a short while, and a few other kids whose parents work at the same research facility. When Tory and her friends rescue a wolf-dog from the institute, they don't expect to get caught up in a scientific drama and murder mystery. Soon, the friends begin experiencing strange symptoms and start to wonder what exactly they've gotten themselves into...

I downloaded this audiobook just for giggles. Though I'm a big fan of the TV show Bones (based on Reichs' adult novels), I've never read any of the books. This, her first foray into young adult (and co-written with her son? I'm not sure, but he's listed on the Goodreads page for the book), seemed like an interesting place to start. On the whole, I enjoyed this book. It's fast-paced and exciting, with nearly every chapter ending on a cliffhanger of some sort, keeping readers engaged and pushing them to keep reading through the whole book (the audiobook worked the same, making me want to keep listening). Tory, the main character, is smart and nerdy and she embraces it, something that there really isn't enough of in young adult literature. Many of the Goodreads review describe this as sort of The Big Bang Theory crossed with Bones - and I don't think they're wrong. The book has the action and suspense of Bones as well as the mix of humor and science that can be found in both shows. While it's interesting that Tory is the only female in her group of friends, it seems a little unrealistic. Yes, many nerd girls find themselves the lone female in a pack of guys. But they don't usually characterize all other girls as dumb and evil, with ulterior motives or just out to make her look bad. Animosity between young women is something we certainly don't need more of in young adult books, even if it is a fair representation of reality. It just seemed out of character for Tory, who, after all, had spent the majority of her life with just her mom, to have such distaste for other girls and women. Additionally, she is a bit too angsty at the beginning of the book, but she seems to get better as the book progressed. I like that there isn't really a romance element to the story, though I imagine it might come as the series develops. There is a bit of flirting and crushes, but it's very minor and almost non-existent compared with all the other things happening. A lot of the book is completely far-fetched but I didn't have a hard time just going with it. This book will suck you up in the action and you might forget to be annoyed that these kids seem to be committing an awful lot of crimes. Overall, I think this is a high-octane thriller (teehee, I feel like a movie critic writing that phrase) that will definitely appeal to action, adventure and science fiction fans. Kids looking for kick-butt heroines should also enjoy.

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