A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Virals revolves around two murder mysteries. The text includes descriptive scenes filled with forensic terminology, providing a realistic element that may be too scary for young readers. Four teenagers attempt to solve a mystery on their own and excavate the area where a body is buried, and this leads to the murder of a major character. Teens are chased and shot at by adults who attempt to kill them, and there are fistfights and scenes of schoolyard bullying, where kids are called names. Virals is the first installment of a multipart series.
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What's the story?
Tory Brennan is a teenage girl who (due to unfortunate circumstance) is forced to move to a new town with her estranged father. Living on Morris Island in Charleston, NC, isn’t so bad if you can afford a Vera Wang designer dress and a brand new BMW. But for outcasts like Tory and her three best nerdy guy friends, the island offers something rare; it's the location of a world-renown research institute. Although the four teens are the poor kids on campus, they form a bond through their shared passion for science and the outdoors. Tory and the boys can't get enough of exploring all the island's backwoods have to offer. Unfortunately, one innocent adventure quickly becomes an extremely dangerous journey when the crew discovers the bones of a girl missing since 1969. As if a murder mystery isn't enough to take on, Tory also releases a contagious virus after breaking into the Loggerhead Island Research Institute, which alters the DNA of her and her comrades. This alteration leaves the kids with hypersensitive senses and superhuman strength. To solve the mystery and save their own lives, the teens will have to figure out how to activate these powers at crucial moments -- or risk losing everything.
Is it any good?
VIRALS is a thrilling ride with short chapters that continue to pick up speed. The book proves that author Kathy Reichs is more than a great novelist, she's also a real-life forensic anthropologist (and inspiration for the TV series Bones), who reveals all sorts of details involved in solving murder mysteries. Readers are taken through the research process and given precise tips on bone identification. Kids will be intrigued as they are introduced to the world of forensics.
Parents will be pleased that this novel exceeds all expectations of what a reader is looking for in a heroine. Tory Brennen encompasses the charming innocence of a young girl who, instead of being completely boy crazed, is passionate about animals, the environment, and politics. It's a refreshing change to encounter a YA novel that does not end with a love triangle in the first installment. The only relationship that develops here is the touching bond between Tory and her wild wolfpup, Coop.
Talk to your kids about ...
Parents and kids can discuss bullying. What should you do you see another person being bullied, or are a victim of bullying yourself?
Parents can also discuss the proper actions to take if you've witnessed a crime.
- Author: Kathy Reichs
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: STEM, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Razorbill
- Publication date: November 2, 2010
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 15
- Number of pages: 464
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Audiobook (abridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: June 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.