I used to read a lot of adult crime fiction and am a massive fan of Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan series so I was very curious to try her first YA book Virals. I have to admit that I was a bit wary about the connection between the two series though, especially with the supernatural elements in Virals. I think I would have preferred it if Kathy had kept the two series completely separate, there didn't really need to be a connection between our YA heroine Tory and Temperance and it felt like this was included just to get fans of the adult series to buy this book.
I made the decision to ignore the connection though and I did enjoy Virals. Tory and her friends Ben, Shelton and Hi are all likable characters and it's nice to see strong friendships without having the complication of a romance in the mix. Each of the friends have their own part to play in the story and they all watch out for each other. The book has an old fashioned adventure story feel to it reminding me of Enid Blyton's Famous Five series which makes for a fun read. You have to be prepared to suspend belief - it's hard to believe that these fourteen-year-olds would be able to break into a scientific laboratory and you have to wonder how they manage to get away with being out at all hours without a single parent noticing they are missing - but I don't think that's anything new for this genre and it didn't stop my enjoyment of the story.
You have two main plot threads in the story, the first being the mystery of the skeleton that the gang uncover on Loggerhead Island - who were they and how did their body end up on the island? - and the second being the strange occurrences at the Loggerhead Research Institute - why do they have a wolfdog pup in captivity when they don't carry out animal testing at the institute? I enjoyed the way the different plots twisted together and am very curious to see how the changes to the gang's DNA will effect them as the series continues.
This series isn't going to appeal to all of Kathy Reichs' adult fans but that doesn't mean that adults can't enjoy the story. My advice would be to consider it as a completely separate entity to her Temperance Brennan series, if you're looking for a fast paced adventure story then it would be well worth giving Virals a try. The story isn't perfect but it was a fun read and I'm looking forward to continuing the series.