Virals by Kathy Reichs is the start of a series about a group of teenagers living in South Carolina who are exposed to an artifical virus which causes their bodies to mutate. They end up having dog-like abilities some of the time. Having powerful eyesight and a super-strong sense of smell aids them in their investigation of a set of dog tags found on a semi-deserted island.
Dog tags seem innocent enough, but what the teens find leads into a deadly adventure--and the threat comes not just from the engineered virus they are exposed to but also from mysterious killers who don't want certain secrets unearthed.
Tory Brennan, whose aunt is the world-famous forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan, is super smart. Her three friends are not far behind in the smarts department. They attend a prestigous private school courtesy of the university where their parents are employed. Living together on an island and being the "outcasts" at the posh private school helps them form a friendship which gets forged into an iron bond as the adventure progresses.
In addition to the four teenagers, the characters include an adorable puppy, a semi-wolf pack, a Jewish mother (there is some truly hilarious dialogue that comes out of her mouth), a clueless father, and the usual villans: rich ones, professorial ones, and even young ones.
Of course, readers' credulity might be strained at some of the stunts, but it all works into a great mystery as the reader tries to work with the clues and figure out the who-done-it.
As it turns out, there are more than one "who-done-its." The twists and turns are clever and keep the reader engrossed and wanting to find out what waits around the next bend.
The descriptions of Charlotte, SC, are plentiful and worthy of a travelogue. It sounds like a lovely place to visit--especially if you aren't getting chased and shot at.
Readers of the adult series about Temperance Brennan will enjoy this YA book just as readers of this book will no doubt look into the adult series. Perhaps neice and aunt will meet in a yet-to-be written book. Visit the author's website for more information about her appearances and other titles.
On sale now, this would be perfect for the YA readers on your holiday shopping list.