Wednesday 18 April 2012

GUEST BOOK CLUB REVIEW: Virals (Kathy Reichs)

Introducing a brilliant guest post by book clubber Alison Bloomfield. Thank you Alison, I owe you more cake! (NB, just to explain, we don't always drink fizz at book club, it was someone's birthday!)

First let me apologize that I'm not as articulate as BCM, especially so after a late night eating cake, drinking fizz (it's the bubbles!!) and some time spent discussing the book.

*Warning - this review contains some plot spoilers!*

Since I'm the person that chose the book I was a bit wary about what the others would think of it and was fully prepared for a verbal lynching! I picked it because I'm a fan of the Kathy Reichs' Bones books so was looking forward to reading Virals - her first book in a three-part contribution to the teen market.

I found it an easy read (probably because I’m twice the target age!!) but I reckon it won’t be liked by the majority of her existing fan base.
In my opinion, Reichs' first mistake was to use existing characters as a cross-over .. Tempe’s nephew Kit and his long-lost daughter Tory. Why? This will become apparent in my comments for plot two.

There are two story-lines in this book, firstly, a Bones-like plot of a skeleton, a rusty dog-tag, a missing girl and shady people trying to cover it all up. This was well written in her usual descriptive style, flowing through the book with twists and turns and having a dramatic conclusion (and one last twist).

Second storyline, a missing wolf-dog puppy infected with a deadly dog disease (rare strain of canine parvovirus) that can cross over to humans… and, of course, it does! As good as it sounded, this is what I felt let the book down as, although it seemed plausible at the start, it soon went a bit too far. It’s probably something that had much market research and aimed for the teenage reader.. but no, no, no!
Basically it’s a bit Famous Five meets X-men, the children rescue the puppy from the evil scientist, predictably get infected and become the “Virals” of the title.. and develop superpowers. Some were feasible, e.g. super-smell and super-strength, but the telepathic packmind was pushing it a bit too far and understanding Cooper the puppy’s thoughts was majorly ludicrous (unless dogs really do think in English?).
Their powers come in useful to help them in the investigation of the missing girl/skeleton and are carried through to the next book in the series.. I’m just hoping that they do get cured eventually!

Would I recommend it.... no, to Bones fans, reality-nuts or scientists. Yes, to teenagers who need to read more. Maybe, to people wanting a holiday read.
And finally, would I recommend BCM's Lemon cake.. definitely! I soooo need that recipe!


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