Virals by Kathy Reichs

virals

3 out of 5 stars

While good, I misread the genre on this one pretty completely. Everything I had read about it led me to believe that this was going to be a science fiction novel about a group of teens who got mutant superpowers. Instead, it turns out to largely be a mystery, with the superpowers being a fairly unimportant part of the plot.

Tory lives in a research compound almost purely inhabited by scientists and their offspring. After finding a wolf pup being illegally experimented on, Tory and her friends save it, but end up being exposed to a tampered form of a virus that starts to change their DNA. They also uncover a mystery that has been lurking around the island for years in the form of a girl who mysteriously went missing years ago.

Despite my misreading, it actually turned out to be an interesting book. The heightened senses of the group help them solve the crime and the narrative voice is clear and punchy. It was a neat idea for a book. On the downside, the integration between the two genres was not as seamless as I might hope. While the science fiction mutations help, they are not important enough to the story that it is inconceivable that everything could have proceeded just as well without them, and due to the time spent worrying about the mutated virus, the mystery portions seem a little rushed and forced. The surprise ending was hard to see coming and satisfying and I enjoyed the prose, but the book seems a little too short or a little too unfinished. It reads like two separate stories got slammed into one another and never completely melded.

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