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SPOILER WARNING
This article contains spoilers from the first book of the Viral's Series! Read at your own risk.
Virals
Virals first edition cover
Author Kathy Reichs

Brendan Reichs

Illustrator Jacket photograph of girl by Michael Frost

Digital illustration and design by Tony Sahara

Publication date November 2, 2010
Published by Razorbill
ISBN 1595143424
Publication Order
Preceded by
N/A
Followed by
Seizure

Virals is the first book in the Virals series written by Kathy and Brendan Reichs.  It was published first published in North America on November 2, 2010, and released in German, Italian, and French translations in 2011.

The book follows Victoria Brennan, Benjamin Blue, Hiram Stolowitski, and Shelton Devers as they try to cope with newfound powers and solve a 40-year old murder.

Plot

Part One: Islanders

The story opens up with Tory examining seashells and classifying them by type.  After completing this task, she leaves her home, only to see Hi running across the sand dunes.  Alarmed by this rare sight, she meets up with him immediately to learn that Ben has crashed his boat.  The two bike across the island to the Bunker, where they find a somewhat bloody Ben.  Tory tends to his wound, and they contact Shelton to have him come and fix the boat.  While waiting for Shelton to show up, Tory explains her mother's death to the reader.

After fixing the boat, the four decide to go to Loggerhead Island, as Tory wants to see if she can find the resident wolf and her pack.  Upon their arrival at the island, they encounter Marcus Karsten, who begrudgingly agrees to let them venture around the property.  After veering off their usual path, they stir up a brief fight between them and one of the resident rhesus monkies.  Before leaving, the monkey throws an old dog tag at the teens.  Tory decides to pick it up so that they can date it and identify who it belonged to.  None of the wolfdogs or their parents are spotted during this.

After returning home to Morris Island, Tory is confronted by Whitney Dubois about participating in higher-class events and making herself look more feminine.  She redirects the conversation and accidentally lets it slip that she and the boys had been on Loggerhead earlier that day.  She also reveals that she is concerned for the wellbeing of the youngest wolfdog, Cooper, who has not been seen in quite some time.  Kit assures her that he is probably fine, but it does little to soothe Tory's worries.  She retreats to her room and reveals more about her past and current situation to the reader.

Part Two: Infection

The initial cleaning of the dog tag reveals little to no information.  Tory decides that a "field trip" to the Loggerhead Island Research Institute is in order.  She rounds up her friends the following morning and they head out to Loggerhead.  Their plan is to break into the locked-down Lab Six, and they are successful in doing so.  They manage to clean enough dirt off the dog tag to discern that the person it belonged to was F. Heaton; a Catholic soldier who fought in the Vietnam war.

While at the lab, the group discovers Coop locked up in a high-security room.  They break in, and Tory convinces the boys to help her rescue him after it's revealed he's going to be killed by Karsten.  They take him to the Bunker, hoping that they can nurse him back to health.  Tory tries to remain optimistic about the situation despite the fact that he is infected with a strain of parvovirus.  The four set up a schedule so that Coop is never alone for too long, and keep his existence a secret from the outside world.

The next day, Tory researches more about parvo during her lunch break at school.  She is interrupted by Hi, and then Jason Taylor shortly after Hi leaves.  The Tripod also makes an appearance, as do Chance Claybourne and Hannah Wythe.

After school, Tory meets up with Hi and Shelton.  The three go to the Charleston Public Library, hoping to find some more information about the man who owned the dog tag.  After sweet-talking Brian Limestone, the librarian on-duty, they are granted access to the public records.  They spend two hours searching until they finally find information regarding a Francis P. Heaton.  They quickly identify him as being the owner of the dog tag, but cannot return it to him as he was killed-in-action.  They then try to find his next of kin; his daughter, Katherine Heaton.  She too is presumed dead, having disappeared less than a year after her father's death in 1968.  When they ask Limestone for help in locating more information about Katherine, he kicks them out of the library.  After returning home, Tory decides that they need to investigate the area where they found the dog tag, and once again convinces her friends to trek out to Loggerhead Island the next day.

At school, Tory is distracted and cannot bring herself to focus on the project she is working on with Hannah and Jason.  They exchange phone numbers and agree to meet at Jason's house on Sunday so that they can finish their schoolwork.  During lunch, Jason tracks Tory down once again and shows her a new app for the phone that would allow her to share information with him and Hannah easier.  She plans on implementing this app with her own group as well.  Chance makes yet another appearance, but it's brief, and he leaves when the bell rings.

After school, they head to Loggerhead to search for any more clues about Katherine Heaton's disappearance.  They dig for hours before they finally discover her body, but are forced to leave suddenly when men with guns come to kill them and destroy the body.  They narrowly escape with their lives and contact the police.  The investigation is hindered by Karsten and then called off after the cops discover monkey bones, not human bones, in the grave.  Knowing full well that the bones were swapped, Tory and her friends decide to investigate further, but without the help of the authorities.  They decide to break into the public library that night to see if anyone had been spying on them when they were there before and to dust down the area for prints in hopes that they would find a fingerprint to identify the perpetrator with.  They succeed in pulling one print but are forced to flee when police arrive at the scene.

They gang narrowly avoids getting caught, and they escape into a nearby alleyway.  While boating back to Morris, Hi passes out without warning.  While examining him to try and discern what's wrong, Tory pulls back his eyelids and finds that the irises have turned a golden color.  She is the only one to see it, however, and Hi comes to before she can be sure of what she saw.  However, just minutes after, both she and Hi experience a flare.  Neither can explain it, and do not bring it up to the others.

Part Three: Incubation

The next day, Tory tracks down Jason in hopes that his father--the police officer in charge of Charleston's violent crimes unit--would be able to I.D. the print.  Jason admits that the chances of that happening are slim to none, but gets Chance to help them instead.

Sometime that evening, Cooper shows signs of recovery, including an increased appetite.  Tory, however, starts to feel under the weather the following day.  She has more pressing things to deal with, though, and pushes thoughts of her health to the back of her mind.  During her lunch break, she and the boys are taken to Loggerhead Island upon Karsten's request, and are interrogated about the night they dug up Katherine Heaton's body.  While talking with Tory, Karsten reveals that he knows that she was the one who stole Cooper from Lab Six.  She doesn't crack, though, and challenges him instead.  The group is then dismissed, leaving Karsten to fume in his office.

Later that evening, everyone but Ben reveals that they've been feeling a little ill.  Shelton even admits to blacking out in the shower.  This, combined with Karsten's questions regarding their health, puts the group on edge.  They push those thoughts out of their mind, however, and head for their respective homes.

The following morning finds Tory cleaning the bunker and bleaching it as much as humanly possible to destroy all traces of the parvovirus.  Despite promising to help her, Hiram does not show up.  While scrubbing everything down, Tory is overcome by an episode of weakness.  Pushing this unnerving event to the back of her mind, she decides to head over to Hi's house to see if he had a reasonable excuse for skipping out on her.

Hi looks a little worse for wear, and Tory ends up explaining the blackout she had at the bunker.  Hi reveals his bowel problems, but claims that he hasn't fainted since that day on the boat.  Concerned by this, Tory decides to check in on the other boys.  Shelton doesn't answer her texts or come to the door when she visits his house, while Ben tells her that he hasn't been sick at all.  Somewhat reassured, she returns home, only to be interrogated by Kit.  She manages to answer his questions without arousing suspicion and retires to her room for a nap.

During dinner, Kit and Whitney reveal that they've signed Tory up for the cotillion's next season.  Tory is outraged, but another blackout wipes her mind of all emotions regarding being a debutante.  She retreats to her room yet again.

When she wakes up the next morning, Tory is as sick as a dog.  A quick check-in with the boys confirms that both Shelton and Hi are experiencing the same illness she is.  Throughout the day, she experiences several flares, which succeed in thoroughly freaking her out.

The following day, Tory is feeling well enough to attend school.  However, in Biology, she experiences another flare.  After almost eating one of the gerbils, she reverts to normal and is overcome by a wave of nausea.  Hannah helps her to the bathroom, and the two have a brief conversation before Tory heads to the nurse's office.  In British Literature, she arranges a meeting between her and the boys at the bunker.

On the ferry ride back to Morris Island, Ben reveals that he's just as sick as the rest of them.  He also reveals that he's been flaring as well.  Back at the bunker, everyone shares their experiences, which are all relatively similar.  They realize that it must be connected to Coop, but they have no idea what exactly they're sick with.  Tory tells the boys that Karsten knows they stole the wolfdog, and the four of them decide to break into Lab Six again after recovering.

At school the next day, the group fared poorly.  During lunch, however, they all experienced a flare simultaneously.  The boys began ravaging the chicken on their plates, and in an attempt to stop them, Tory pulled the fire alarm.  They scampered outside along with the other students and slowly came to their senses.

Tory skipped school the following day.  That evening, however, she was forced to attend her first cotillion ball.  There, she encounters Jason, Chance, Hannah, and all three members of the Tripod.  She dances with both men, although the close proximity with Chance leaves her flustered.  While standing by the refreshment table, Tory is approached by Jason.  During their brief conversation, she suddenly flares, and accidentally pushes him back as he is leading her onto the dance floor.  Flustered and afraid, she leaves the ball as quickly as possible, forgetting that she has no ride home.

While outside the dance hall, Tory sees a man talking on his cell phone.  As it turns out, it is Chance's driver.  He explains to her that Chance ordered him to take her home, and Tory accepts.  Upon arriving at the townhouse, she manages to escape Kit and Whitney's questions about the event.

The following morning, Tory meets the boys in the bunker before school.  Everyone--Cooper included--is feeling much better.  Tory explains what happened at the cotillion, and the group decides on their next move.  It is eventually determined that they need to go back to Lab Six for answers, but this time only Tory and Ben would go, as having all of them would be suspicious.

After school, Hiram and Shelton go to Charleston University to see if they can find any information on the parvovirus, hoping that it may lead to answers about their current condition.  The only link they find is B19; a virus that stems from parvo and affects humans.  With that being their only find, they head back to regroup with Ben and Tory.

While Hi and Shelton were at CU, Tory and Ben were breaking into Karsten's office.  There, they discover that Karsten's experiments on Coop were done without the knowledge of LIRI.  They also find that he was being paid a large sum of money to do them, and Tory steals one of the several cheques.  She and Ben are about to leave when Karsten's secretary returns, and are forced to flare to get out undetected.

On their way home to Morris from the university, Hi and Shelton are confronted by two masked and armed men.  They take several detours in an attempt to get around them and eventually end up outright running.  They flare while making their escape, allowing them to hide away in one of the nearby alleys.  They attack one of their assailants and then make a run for it, headed for the docks.

Regrouping at the bunker, the pack had little to no time to explain their findings before being interrupted by Karsten.  After a brief confrontation, Tory reveals to him that she and her friends were infected with the same virus Coop had.  Together, she and the boys explain their experiences to Karsten, who theorizes that the virus altered their DNA.  Unfortunately, their meeting is cut short when they are attacked by three armed gunmen.  The four teens and Coop escape down the bunker's mineshaft while Karsten holds the attackers off.  As they're crawling through the tunnel, it collapses.

The group manages to avoid being crushed.  As they crawl toward the exit, Tory realizes that she can hear the boys' thoughts--even Coop's.  She manages to send a message to Coop, and then to the others before the connection fizzles out.

Getting out of the tunnel, the five find themselves on the other side of Morris Island.  They arrive just in time to see the hitmen loading Karsten's lifeless body onto their boat before leaving for good.

Part Four: Insight

At school the next day, Tory butchers her group presentation, but the events of the previous night are too fresh on her mind for her to care.  After the final bell, she meets Chance, who tells her that the fingerprint she pulled at the library belonged to a James Newman.  He warns her to stay away from the criminal and shows a considerable amount of affection toward her before leaving.  Hi bears witness to this event, and teases Tory about it before turning serious.

At a loss as to what they should do with the print, the two decide to investigate any friends or family that Katherine Heaton had.  They find one--a woman named Sylvia Briggerman--and go to see her immediately.  Sylvia, who suffers from dementia, mistakenly identifies Tory as Katherine Heaton, but Tory corrects her.  As Slyvia currently believes that Katherine is still alive and in high school, she tells the two teens all about Katherine's life.  The only information they get that is helpful is the name of one of Katherine's old friends, Abby Quimby, and Tory accidentally flares and catches the scent of Katherine's sweater.

On the bus back to Charleston, Tory and Hi look up Abby Quimby.  They manage to find a number and ask her a few questions about the day Katherine disappeared.  Abby explains the science project the two of them were working on.  She also tells them that the lighthouse was the last place that her friend had mentioned going to.

With that information in mind, they get together with Shelton and Ben and head to the lighthouse immediately.  At first, it seems like a no-go, but after flaring, Tory recognizes Katherine's scent.  She digs through layers of bird poop, and with Ben's help, manages to locate Katherine's backpack.  Back at Shelton's house, the group rifles through the old bag, finding a half-destroyed notebook.  They carefully leaf through it, and the only legible entries are the two pages at the back of the book.  The pages detail a drawing of a bald eagle and then tell of Katherine's discovery of a colony of the birds living on Cole Island.  They also discover that Katherine was being followed, and her final entry describes how she hid her backpack in the lighthouse just moments before being killed.

The following day, the group meets up at Hiram's house and uses his computer to search for the owner of Cole Island.  It turns out that Hollis Claybourne sold the island to Candela Pharmaceuticals for a small fortune just after Katherine Heaton's death.  Hollis also gains a management position upon the sale, and no eagles were ever reported as living on the island.  Deciding this information was too suspicious to ignore, the four agree to break into Claybourne Mansion.

Tory entered the home alone, as having the four of them all sneak in was considered a security risk.  Once inside the manor, she finds the documents regarding the fingerprint Chance had analyzed for her.  To her surprise, the fingerprint didn't actually belong to a James Newman, but rather to Chance's driver, Tony Baravetto.  She then realized that Chance could actually be trying to kill her.

Sneaking into Hollis Claybourne's study, Tory recovers Francis Heaton's dog tags, an envelope detailing the sale of Cole Island to Candela, and a photo of Hollis pointing to a pair of eagles.  Just as she's discovered these things, she is found out by Chance.  He reveals everything about how his father murdered Katherine forty years ago to ensure that Cole Island could be sold, ensuring that the Claybourne's would not go bankrupt.  He also revealed that he was the one to remove Katherine's body--on Hollis' orders--and was also the one who shot at Tory and her friends.

However, as their conversation continues, Tory realizes that Chance was only behind a small portion of the events that had happened over the past days.  He had nothing to do with Karsten's death and had no idea it had happened until she brought it up.  However, motivated by the want for Hollis' name to stay clean so that his inheritance would be secure, Chance brushes it off and orders Tory to hand over everything she stole, along with Katherine's notebook.  She did so and fled the premises immediately to regroup with the boys.

The group headed home, only to return to the manor at two in the morning.  They break into the home the same way Tory had earlier and recover everything Chance had taken from her.  They then head to the cellar, hoping to recover Katherine's skeleton as well.  However, after they discover the bones, they are confronted by Chance again.  Armed, he threatens to shoot them, but then quickly lets the gun drop, admitting that he could never take a life.  Just then, Hannah calls down into the cellar.  Tory calls back, trying to get her to help them.  Chance tries to hide the gun but ends up passing it to Hannah.  In a shocking turn of events, Hannah points the gun at Tory, and tells Chance to get two shovels to "bury the bodies."

Hannah explains that she was in on Hollis' plan all along and that she was the one who ordered the attack on the bunker.  As she explains everything and argues with Chance, Tory and the boys flare.  Through a combined effort, they take her down.  However, as Tory goes upstairs to call the police, she is attacked by Chance's driver.  She flares again, takes him down, and then runs outside.  After phoning the police, she faints on the front lawn.

She comes to some time later, still on the lawn.  The cops have already arrived, and Hi explains to her what happened.  She later explains what happened to Kit, leaving out the part about their mutated DNA.  Afterward, Hollis, Hannah, and Chance's driver are arrested for their part in the crime.  The Virals admit to all the breaking and entering they've done, and are grounded by their parents, but suffer no worse consequences.

The teens then return Cooper to Loggerhead Island to be with his family.  However, Coop has other ideas and remains with Tory, who decides to keep him as her pet (despite Kit's firm views on not having any pets).

Characters

The Pack

The Pack's Family

  • Christopher "Kit" Howard- Tory's father, and a marine biologist at the Loggerhead Island Research Institute.
  • Tom Blue- Ben's father, and Myra's former husband.  Runs the ferry service between Morris Island, Charleston, and Loggerhead Island.
  • Myra Blue- Ben's mother, and Tom's former wife.  Little is known about her, other than that she owns a condo in Mount Pleasant.
  • Ruth Stolowitski- Hiram's mother and Linus' husband.  Runs the neighborhood watch community.
  • Linus Stolowitski- Hiram's father and Ruth's husband.  Is a lab technician for the LIRI.
  • Lorelei Devers- Shelton's mother and Nelson's wife.  A veterinary technician at LIRI.
  • Nelson Devers- Shelton's father and Lorelei's wife.  IT specialist at LIRI.

Bolton Preparatory Academy Students

Other Characters

  • Hollis Claybourne- Chance's father.  He was the one behind the creation of XPB-19.
  • Marcus Karsten- The former director of LIRI.  He was Hollis' puppet in the experiments involving the XPB-19 virus.
  • Francis Heaton- The owner of the dog tag the Virals found at 
  • Brian Limestone- Head research librarian at Charleston Public Library.
  • Kathrine Heaton- Victim of island murder 40 years ago

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