First off, I have to say that I’ve never actually read any of Kathy Reichs’ books, though I have seen a few episodes of “Bones”. I am always a little bit wary of best-selling adult authors moving into the growing market of teen/YA fiction. This particular offering was entertaining enough, but I had some issues with it.
The main story: Tory Brennen lost her mother about 6 months before the story begins and has moved in with her father (whose sister is the famous Temperance Brennen) on a island off the coast of Charleston, SC. The few families that live on the island are all employees of the university and work at a state-of-the-art lab on a neighboring island. Said neighboring island is wilderness preserve that happens to be full of monkeys (I *think* they were introduced for research purposes) and a random wolf-dog pack that Tory is particularly attached to. One day, she and her friends discover some dog tags on the monkey island and uncover a connection to a murder that happened decades ago. In the process of cleaning up the dogtags in the fancy-pants lab (that they broke into), they discover one of the dogs from the island sealed off in a cage and looking to be on the verge of death. Long story short, the dog is freed and nursed back to health, though the seemingly dog-specific virus has rather unexpected effects on the human rescuers.
So, we’ve got a murder mystery mixed with some accidentally obtained superhuman powers. In the end, it was all a bit of a stretch for me, but once I was able to appropriately suspend my disbelief, I enjoyed the rest of the book. The characters are a little flat and the emphasis is clearly on the action and mystery elements. Fans of crime dramas will likely appreciate the CSI bits, while fans of the supernatural will be curious to see the extent to which a virus can affect a person.
This book is on the 2012-13 Truman Award Nominees list and is the Novel Ideas read for February.