(Young Arrow Books, 2011)
I think Virals is rapidly shaping up to be one of my favourite YA series to date. This second installment - which takes place about four months after the first - takes the firm foundation Reichs laid down in Virals and builds a wonderfully exciting new adventure smack on top of it.
The Viral pack - Tory, Shelton, Hi, Ben and their wolfdog Coop - are still attempting to figure out their new abilities when they get shocking news. Their beloved Loggerhead Island, home of the LIRI institute and a beautiful nature reserve, is to be sold off as the university budget is squeezed. Faced with the prospect of her friends being split apart and moved across the continent, Tory clutches wildly at the local legend of Anne Bonny. A fearsome flame-haired lady pirate, Bonny is rumoured to have buried her treasure somewhere in the area. Would it be enough to save Loggerhead? Can she persuade the pack that this isn't just a wild goose chase? And can they solve the mystery in time to stop the sale of the island - and before anyone else finds out what they're up to?
I loved this book. I found the relationships between the four human Virals absolutely spot-on for a group of teenagers - the idle banter, Hi's teasing wit, the slight attraction between Tory and Ben that simmers away gently - and enjoyed the continued exploration of the new pack bond that cements them together. It's great to have four such distinct and resourceful characters to root for, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and quirky idiosyncracies. The plot has a real Indiana Jones/Pirates of the Caribbean feel to it this time, with riddles to solve, a trail to follow, and a genuinely nail-biting underground set-piece that had me glued breathlessly to the pages for well over an hour. Like last time, there are dangerous people hot on the pack's heels, and in true crime thriller style Reichs throws out plenty of red herrings to stop the reader working everything out too quickly. I sincerely hope there's more still to come for the Virals - roll on book three!
Note: Many thanks to Random House Children's Books, who sent me this book in return for an honest review.