You may recognize Kathy Reichs as the author of the Temperance Brennan books, the basis for the TV series Bones. What you may not know is that Reichs is also the author of a middle reader series starring Victoria (Tory) Brennan, niece of the famous forensic anthropologist.
Tory Brennen lives with her father, Kit, on a small island off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. Her friends are the neighbor boys who share her interests in science and nature. Because all their parents work at a research institute on a neighboring island, the teens are often left on their own to spend the summer exploring and watching the local wildlife.
When Tory discovers an old dog tag on the institute's island, the group decides to learn about the soldier who used to wear it. Their research points to an unsolved missing person case, and the teens suddenly find themselves entangled in a local scandal and coverup. When snooping around the research institute for information, the group finds a caged wolf-dog pup in an abandoned laboratory. They free the animal, hide him, and nurse him back to health.
Sometimes curiosity can get you into trouble. In this case, Tory and her friends have contracted a strange virus from the puppy. They're afraid to tell their parents because they don't want to confess to having taken the wolf-dog. Thanks to the parovirus infection, the teens now have wolf genes, which give them wolf powers.
The Virals, as they call themselves, are not werewolves, but they sometimes have increased strength and speed, heightened senses, and the ability to communicate via pack mentality. These powers stand them in good stead when they are being chased by bad guys and ultimately solve the case of the dog tag and missing person.
The second book, Seizure, picks up several months after the first, and takes place during the school year. This time the adventure starts when the kids learn that the research institute may be closing for lack of funding. They're especially distressed because their pack will be broken up when their parents find new jobs, most likely in other cities or states.
When Tory notices a painting of a woman pirate at a local social club, she is introduced to the story of real-life pirate Anne Bonney and her missing treasure. Tory convinces her fellow Virals that if they find the treasure, they'll be able to save the institute and their parents' jobs, meaning they won't have to move away from each other.
Seizure takes Tory and friends on a wild Indian Jones-like adventure through Charleston and to several coastal islands. Using their wits and their wolf powers, will the teens be able to solve a centuries-old mystery, shake off the competition, and stay alive before time runs out?
Reichs's middle reader series is full of adventures, great characters, and complex mysteries. Mix in some sci-fi elements and few less-than-attentive parents, and young readers will be engrossed in the stories, wishing they too had some super wolf powers.
I listened to the unabridged audio editions (Penguin Audiobooks; Virals 9 hr, 43 min; Seizure 10 hr, 52 min) read by Actress Cristin Milioti. Milioti is a great match for Tory Brennen, and her narration added to my enjoyment of the books. Sparse, but well-used, sound effects enhance the production. Recommended for family listening. My full audio review of Seizure was written for AudioFile magazine.
For more about the series, visit Kathy Reichs's website or Facebook page or follow her on Twitter, This review will be linked to Kid Konnection, hosted each Saturday by Julie from Booking Mama. Imprint note: The Virals series is published by Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin USA, which also published other popular young adult titles such as Thirteen Reasons Why, Vampire Academy, and Zorgamazoo.
ISBN-13: 9781595144263 (Virals) and 9781595143945 (Seizure)
'Source: Bought (Virals) and review (Seizure) (see review policy)
Rating: B (Virals), B+ (Seizure)
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