19 December 2011

Review: Virals Series by Kathy Reichs

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.

Virals at Powell's
Virals at Book Depository
Seizure at Powell's
Seizure at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by Penguin USA / Razorbill, 2010 (Virals) and 2011 (Seizure)
ISBN-13: 9781595144263
(Virals) and 9781595143945 (Seizure)
'Source: Bought (Virals) and review (Seizure) (see review policy)
Rating: B
(Virals), B+ (Seizure)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Daryl 12/19/11, 10:45 AM  

Oh I love this and so will a friend's daughter .. I might just get these for her for Christmas ..

Beth Hoffman 12/19/11, 11:34 AM  

I'm positive the teen down the street would enjoy this series. I'm going to email the link to her mom!

Zibilee 12/19/11, 11:58 AM  

This sounds like a great series, and although I have heard the titles bandied about, I never really knew what the books were about. I am thinking that these books would be perfect for my son, and am going to grab them for him. Thanks for the excellent review and the heads-up on these books!

Sandy Nawrot 12/19/11, 1:25 PM  

I absolutely love the Tempe Brennan series, and have been reading them for a very long time. Love that chemistry! I'm a little afraid of a younger protagonist when I am used to her normal grit, and my kids have (hopefully temporarily) sworn off audios. But I will give it some thought. Good to know it passed muster with you.

bermudaonion 12/19/11, 2:47 PM  

I'm a fan of Reichs' so I really want to try this series even though it's a little outside of my comfort zone. I have to admit the South Carolina setting appeals to me.

Anonymous,  12/19/11, 4:59 PM  

I recently listened to these audiobooks and found them quite enjoyable. I think I liked the science and eco-focus of Virals more than the pirate adventure of Seizure, but I enjoyed both!

Unknown 12/19/11, 5:32 PM  

Ooh. I've looked at these a time or two. But never quite decided to pick one up. Partly because I've not really seen much about them.

They may just be going on the wishlist!

Nise' 12/19/11, 6:23 PM  

I enjoyed Virals and look forward to Seizure. The few adult fiction authors that have written YAs have been good so far.

Jenners 12/19/11, 8:03 PM  

I love that she made her the niece of her grown-up character. Talk about prepping your audience for your other books when they grow up!

caite 12/20/11, 6:47 PM  

I had no idea she wrote this other series. I must say it sounds interesting..

Julie P. 12/20/11, 8:00 PM  

I would love to read/listen to these books. I bet they'd be great for Booking Daughter and me!

Michelle 12/21/11, 6:15 AM  

I believe I have the first in this series sitting on my shelf. Looks like it would be a worthwhile read.

Violet 12/21/11, 10:10 AM  

I didn't know Bones was based on her books. I read one of her books long back but didn't like it much. Maybe I should try another one.

Robin M 12/22/11, 8:18 PM  

Sounds good. Added to my wishlist.

Unknown 12/29/11, 2:48 PM  

I've been wanting to read this one for awhile, glad to see you enjoyed it.

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