Cover of the first edition
|Cover artist||Jacket photograph of girl by Michael Frost, Digital illustration and design by Tony Sahara|
|Publication date||November 2, 2010|
|Media type||Print (hardcover, paperback)|
|Pages||448 (hardcover), 454 (paperback)|
Virals is the first novel in the Virals series of novels for young adults written by the American forensic anthropologist and crime writer, Kathy Reichs, featuring Tory Brennan, great-niece of Temperance Brennan.
It is the first of Reichs's novels to be written specifically for a young-adult audience.
Virals was first published in the United States on November 2, 2010 by Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Books, and published in the UK the same year by Young Arrow, an imprint of Random House. It has had several subsequent English language editions in hardback, paperback, ebook, and talking book. The book has also been published in French (as Viral, Pocket, 2011), German (Verlagsgruppe Random House GmbH, 2011), and Italian (Rizzoli, 2011)
Tory and her friends find a rusted dog tag dating from the Vietnam War era on Loggerhead Island, and trying to identify its owner leads them to an unsolved murder and infection by an experimental virus that gives them special powers, which they describe as "flaring".
The series was the idea of Reichs's son, attorney Brendan Reichs, who also co-writes the books.
The stories, which have elements of science fiction and fantasy, are set in Charleston, South Carolina and the nearby islands and follow the adventures of Tory Brennan (the great-niece of Temperance Brennan, the fictional heroine of Reichs's adult thriller series) and her friends Hiram Stolowitski, Ben Blue, and Shelton Devers.
- Shift (released March 2013) - focuses on a robbery at LIRI and pits Brennan vs Brennan as Temperance Brennan is investigating while Tory and her Virals also attempt to crack the case. Although the books are narrated in the first person by Tory, in Shift the character narration changes with each chapter - Shelton narrates chapters 1 and 5, Ben chapters 2 and 7, Hi chapters 3 and 6, Tory chapters 4 and 8, Kit chapter 9 and Tempe chapter 10. This allows the reader to see for the first time what each character thinks about the others.
- Swipe - being released in December 2013.
Recurring characters in the series
- Tory (Victoria) Brennan- The intelligent, determined,headstrong and occasionally reckless leader of the Virals. She is 14, a bit of a tomboy and Temperance Brennan's great-niece. She is described as being five-five, having red hair, emerald eyes and pale skin. She spent her early life in Massachusetts with her mother, Colleen Brennan, but went to live with her father Kit in Charleston, South Carolina after Colleen was killed by a drunk driver. She has the best sense of smell when flaring. Even though she is the youngest among the Virals, she is the leader of their pack and the boys appear to be ok with that. Her sense of smell is sometimes powerful enough to detect human feelings and emotions. She refers to herself as the 'Alpha' of the pack and has a slight telepathic ability. She is able to read the minds of fellow Virals and sometimes, when she is particularly powerful, she is even able to 'see' through their eyes. She was reluctantly pushed into joining cotillions as a deb by her father's girlfriend, Whitney Rose Dubois, who frequently gets on her nerves.
- Hi (Hiram) Stolowitski- The husky, stand up comedian of the group, provides much of the comic relief. He is also described as being a master of sarcasm by Tory. Hi is 15 years old, loves natural science and has the best eyesight when flaring. He accesses his powers with the most ease out of all the Virals. He has an affinity for technology as his father is a lab technician at LIRI. He often does not approve of Tory's many 'ideas' but is almost always swayed by Shelton and Ben. He usually dresses in hawaiian print t-shirts which as Tory says do not match but is classic Hi Stolowitski. His parents are Linus and Ruth Stolowitski.
- Ben Blue- The serious, quiet, and dark member of the team is 16. He claims to be part Sewee indian and is described as having shoulder length black hair, dark eyes and has a coppery tan. He is the strongest and fastest when flaring. It is also revealed that he once worked with the Gamemaster to impress Tory, showing that he has developed feelings for her. He has a sixteen foot Boston Whaler runabout he named Sewee which is the Virals primary mode of transportation. Ben is very proud of his boat and is careful not to damage it. He rarely smiles, but when he does, Tory describes him as changing from a sullen boy to a charming young man. He lives with his father, Tom Blue on Morris Island while his mother Myra Blue lives in Mount Pleasant. His father operates the ferry service between Loggerhead Island and Morris Island.
- Shelton Devers- The "One man Geek Squad" of the team. The 15 year old is the most intelligent when it comes to technology or mechanics and has the best hearing when flaring. As he has an African-American father and an Asian mother, he has dark skin and Japanese features.He has a lock pick set which he is very proud of and he is an expert at picking locks. He is also terrified of the dark and often tugs at his earlobe when he is feeling nervous or tense. He can crack codes and solve puzzles with relative ease, a useful skill to the Virals. His parents are Nelson and Lorelei Devers, an IT expert and veterinary expert respectively.
- Cooper- He is the fifth member of the Virals, and is Tory's pet wolf-dog. He is extremely loyal and protective of the Virals, especially Tory. His mother, Whisper, is a wolf from Montana who was brought to Loggerhead Island as a pet and allowed to run wild, where she mated with Polo, a German shepherd, producing first Buster and then Cooper. Cooper is affectionately called 'Coop' by Tory as well as the other Virals.
The Virals live with their parents on Morris Island in housing provided by LIRI, and attend the upmarket Bolton Academy in Charleston, the fees for which are paid by LIRI. When they experience "flaring" their eyes glow a deep, primal gold, and their senses of smell, vision and hearing are magnified.
Parents of the Virals
The fathers are all employees of the Loggerhead Island Research Institute (LIRI), situated on Loggerhead Island, lying in the Atlantic Ocean to the east of Morris Island.
- Christopher 'Kit' Howard - His mother Harry is the sister of Temperance Brennan. He met Tory's mother Colleen Brennan at a sailing camp on Cape Cod when they were both sixteen and he did not discover that he had fathered a daughter until many years later. He worked at LIRI as a veterinary expert and was appointed Director following Karsten's death. He is a somewhat clueless parent and cannot really keep track of Tory's activities. It is also mentioned that he gets along well with his other colleagues from LIRI and does not set himself apart from them. His girlfriend is Whitney Rose Dubois, whom Tory cannot stand.
- Linus and Ruth Stolowitski - They are the parents to Hiram 'Hi' Stolowitski. Linus is a quiet and dignified man and Tory states that Hi does not take after his dad. However, Ruth is described as being religious and often drives to a temple in Charleston in 'sporadic bursts of piety'. She also runs a Community Watch team which patrols Morris Island.
- Tom and Myra Blue - They are the parents to Ben Blue. Tom lives on Morris Island with his son, Ben, while Myra lives in a condominium near Mount Pleasant. It is unclear if the senior Blues are still married but living separately or if they are divorced. Tom Blue is mentioned to not really care about discipline, so Ben does not suffer as long a punishment as the other Virals. He also runs the ferry service on Morris Island and has a boat named 'Hugo'. Myra Blue is not mentioned very often.
- Nelson and Lorelei Devers - They are the parents to Shelton Devers. Nelson, who is ten years older than Lorelei, is African-American, a former dockworker from the Bronx who joined the Navy and was stationed in Okinawa. He met Lorelei at a Japanese community college where he was teaching computer science. Nelson works as the IT specialist at LIRI, while Lorelei is Japanese and works as a veterinary technician; Nelson was the first black man she had ever met. Shelton inherited Nelson's complexion and Lorelei's Asian features.They are intolerant of criminal behaviour, regardless of justification thus grounding Shelton for the longest time out of all the Virals. Shelton also mentions that his parents never sleep past 6 in the morning.
- Chance Claybourne- He attends Bolton Academy along with the Virals and is the son of Hollis Claybourne. He is described as darkly handsome and the night to Jason's day. He is the captain of the lacrosse team. He dated Hannah Wythe but is shown to have a slight crush on Tory as he can be seen flirting with her on numerous occasions. He was shot by Hannah in the cellar of Claybourne Manor and suffered severe mental trauma. He is committed to a psychiatric hospital which, ironically, he owns. He is later cured and released from the hospital. He is now the head of the Claybourne business as his father was arrested for numerous crimes including the murder of Katherine Heaton. He has witnessed the Virals when they were flaring and is determined to seek out their secret.
- Jason Taylor- He attends Bolton Academy with the Virals. He is often described as having blond hair and blue eyes "like a Nordic god". He is shown having genuine affection towards Tory but is not very fond of Ben, at one point almost punching him. He later becomes the captain of the lacrosse team after Chance is committed to a psychiatric hospital. His family is relatively well off and owns a yacht.
- The "Tripod"- The Tripod is a group of mean girls, Madison Dunkle, Ashley Bodford and Courtney Holt. They are nicknamed 'The Tripod of Skank' by Tory as they are extremely snarky and mean towards her and the other Virals. Madison is interested in Jason and she dislikes Tory because Jason pays more attention to her. Tory later gets back at Madison by flashing her golden eyes at her in the girls bathroom. As a result Madison becomes extremely terrified of Tory and runs whenever she sees her. Courtney is described as being extremely ditzy and slow while Ashley is slightly sharper.
- Dr. Marcus E. Karsten- He was the director of LIRI (Loggerhead Island Research Institute) before he was murdered. He was being paid by Candela Pharmaceuticals to research a cure for canine parvovirus or, failing that, to create a new 'designer virus' that only a Candela product could cure. However, while trying to find a mechanism to weaken the canine strain, he accidentally created a new type of parvovirus which had the potential to infect humans. It was this virus which infected Coop and later, Tory, Hi, Ben and Shelton turning them into Virals.
- Hannah Wythe- She was Chance Claybourne's girlfriend. She is described as having long auburn hair and green eyes. She had Karsten murdered at the Viral's bunker after he tried to defend them. She later attempts to kill the Virals in the cellar of Claybourne Manor. It is there that she reveals that she had been working with Chance's father behind his back so that Chance wouldn't ruin their future together. She is later arrested along with Chance's driver for the murder of Karsten.
- Hollis Claybourne- He is Chance Claybourne's father. He is extremely strict and raised Chance single handedly as his wife, Sally Claybourne died in childbirth. He was a vice president of Candela Pharmaceuticals. He murdered Katherine Heaton after she found out about bald eagles nesting on Cole Island as that would have hindered the sale of the island. He is later arrested for the murder of Katherine Heaton and many other crimes.
- Tony Baravetto- He was previously the driver to Chance Claybourne. Hollis Claybourne made him stalk Tory and the other Virals and he was later sent to murder Tory, Hi, Ben and Shelton at the bunker but they escaped leaving Karsten behind. He killed Karsten and dumped his body at sea. At Claybourne Manor, he attacked Tory in the kitchen but she managed to take him down. He was later arrested along with Chance's former girlfriend, Hannah Wythe for the murder of Dr Marcus Karsten and four counts of attempted murder.
- Memmott, Carol (22 August 2011) "For author Kathy Reichs, it's all about the bones". USA Today
- "'Virals' by Kathy Reichs". Los Angeles Times