Virals, by Kathy Reichs

Rating: 2 out of 5

(Summary taken from GoodReads) Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage “sci-philes” who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.

As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their new-found physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer’s scent.

Fortunately, they are now more than friends they’re a pack. They are Virals.

Based off of the book’s description, Virals seemed like it would be an intriguing, good read. I found it refreshing to find a werewolf book with a scientific take on the mythological creature. Sadly, the book did not live up to my expectations.

I praise Reichs for coming up with a scientific explanation for the changes that the teen friends undergo, but the book read as though it were several books spliced into one. The lack of cohesion left me confused as a reader. I felt like I was reading at least 3 different plots – sci-fi paranormal, mystery murder, and awkward teen vs. mean girls. While these could all go together, the way these plot elements played out in Virals seemed awkward and disjointed.

A great setting cannot salvage a not-so-great plot

The book was set on an isolated island with monkeys and cute wolf dogs. The setting could have contributed in a big way to the plot, but I didn’t feel that Reichs explored the possibilities as much as I would have liked, sticking to the expected possibilities while ignoring the unexpected.

I also felt like the middle section of the book was a bit drawn out. It took an extremely long time for the teens transformations to be complete. This dragged down the story. We didn’t get much insight to the characters during this long section and it didn’t contribute very much to the overall story.

The Evil Popular Girl cliche

The book also contained evil rich girls that felt like a cliche. There was no motivation for their mean behavior. Maybe I went to a tame high school, but I just don’t think this stereotype holds true. No one at my school was mean just for the sake of being mean and I was a poor girl at a wealthy private school in the south, same as Tory.

All in all, I was left feeling lukewarm about Virals. Whereas the book description suggested a fast-paced, exciting read, I found the story slow and disjointed. It was an interesting concept, but fell a bit short for me. It’s worth reading if you have nothing else on your list, but I’d recommend saving your money and getting it from the library.