Series Review : The Virals

According to Bowker, the number of juvenile titles published in the United States dropped slightly in 2013, from 33,239 in 2012 to 32,902.  Sometimes we feel like most of them are stacked on our desks.

We also get lots of advance reader copies. We consider ARCS to be one of the best perks of our jobs, especially fiction. And we humbly (or maybe not so humbly) delight in talking about books we’ve read that won’t be out for weeks or even months—such as The Infinite Sea, second book in the 5th Wave series, by Rick Yancey. Or I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. Or An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (which won’t be out until April 2015 but you must, MUST put it on your list RIGHT NOW).

My only regret is that I cannot possibly read everything I want, and series can be particularly problematic. If I’ve read and enjoyed a series’ first book, I know that I can recommend the rest of the books in the series—and with so many new books, I often feel that I should focus on stand-alone titles or new series.

The good thing about not reading every series book as it comes out is that I don’t have to wait for a year or more to find out what happens after a cliff-hanger ending. I read all four Twilight books in less than two weeks after Breaking Dawn was out. Same with The Hero’s Guide by Christopher Healy. Even books in the more episodic series—like mystery series in which each title comes to a conclusion—are great fun to read in a marathon.


Brendan Reichs, first on left; Kathy Reichs, third from right–on their visit to Mackin Photo by Tim Hedges, Around Town Agency

The Virals series by mother and son team Kathy and Brendan Reichs is one such series. I read the first title before it was published in 2010 and recommended it to my coworkers, my boys, and K-12 librarians, but until Kathy and Brendan visited us earlier this year, I had not had time to read past that initial book. I am glad to say the situation has been remedied.

ViralsIn the first book, Virals, we meet Tory, Hi, Ben, and Shelton, four friends who live on a small island off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. (Tory is the niece of Temperance Brennan, the forensic anthropologist who stars both in Kathy Reichs’s adult series of the same name and in Bones, the TV series based on her books.) While exploring, they find a seemingly abandoned laboratory housing a caged wolfdog puppy suffering from parvo. Evidence shows that someone is experimenting on the pup. After they rescue the animal, all four get sick, very sick—and when they finally recover, they notice that their senses are heightened, their muscles stronger, and their reflexes quicker. As they uncover a decades-old murder connected with these secret experiments, they find themselves smack dab in the middle of danger that may cost them their lives.

SeizureIn Seizure, Tory and her friends learn that the island research institute where most of their parents work is in serious financial difficulties and will be closed. When they discover that a pirate treasure may be hidden somewhere in Charleston, they are determined to find it and keep the institute afloat. But someone else is also desperately searching for the treasure, someone who does not care if the teens are hurt—or worse.

CodeThe Virals find a geocache containing a puzzle box in Code, left by someone calling himself the “Gamemaster.” Upon opening the box, they find an invitation to a seemingly innocent scavenger hunt, but once they join, they find that he is deadly serious; if they don’t decipher the clues in time, people will die. The teens must find out the identity of the Gamemaster before a hurricane and a painful betrayal destroy the Virals.

ExposureIn the most recent book, Exposure, twin classmates of Tory and her friends have been kidnapped, and the Virals decide they are the best detectives for the job. But their powers have become unpredictable lately, and the betrayal in Code has divided them. Even worse, they suspect that someone knows about the experiment that changed them—and if their powers are exposed, they could be in serious trouble.

My favorite part of the Reichs’ series is the cast of characters, an appealing group of nerds—yes, nerds. Their enhanced senses and strength would be for naught in solving the mysteries were it not for their geek skills and knowledge…and their loyalty. The Virals series is packed with action, danger, authentic teen snark and humor, and science. And while the parents are around, they are virtually clueless, which most teens believe anyway. Give these books to kids who like mysteries or a little science fiction in their contemporary novels.

So now I’m caught up. And I’m anxious for the next book to come out, because the end of Exposure was unlike the others. I saw it as I turned the last page: a cliff-hanger. And I’m hanging by my fingernails.

Bibliography :

Virals (Virals Novel, Book 1) by Kathy & Brendan Reichs. 9781595143426. 2010. Gr 7-10.

Seizure (Virals Novel, Book 2) by Kathy & Brendan Reichs. 9781595143945. 2011. Gr 7-10.

Code (Virals Novel, Book 3) by Kathy & Brendan Reichs. 9781595144126. 2013. Gr 7-10.

Exposure (Virals Novel, Book 4) by Kathy & Brendan Reichs. 9781595145307. 2014. Gr 7-10.

And two ebook only adventures in the series:

Shift : A Virals Adventure. 9781101630594. 2013. Gr 7-10.

Swipe : A Virals Adventure. 9780698160774. 2013. Gr. 7-10.

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