Goodreads Description: "When twin classmates are abducted from Bolton Prep, Tory and the Virals decide there’s no one better equipped than them to investigate. But the gang has other problems to face. Their powers are growing wilder, and becoming harder to control. Chance Claybourne is investigating the disastrous medical experiment that twisted their DNA. The bonds that unite them are weakening, threatening the future of the pack itself. The Virals must decipher the clues and track down a ruthless criminal before he strikes again, all while protecting their secret from prying eyes. And everyone seems to be watching."
My Review: LOVED IT. I don't know, sometimes I think I'm a little biased when it comes to this series, simply because it combines everything I love: great, witty, realistic teenage characters + action/adventure + science + slow, realistic romance + humor + media references + gorgeous setting (seriously, I have a love affair with Charleston). So maybe I'm biased. Orrrrrrr maybe Kathy and Brendan Reichs are just great writers! I'll go with the latter.
Here, to show that I'm not biased, I'll point out the flaws (or what can be construed as flaws, since they didn't really actually bother me that much) in the book. For one thing, the writing was---as usual---not very complex or poetic. It was short, brief, to-the-point. Honestly, I kind of even liked it, because it seemed realistic. When we narrate our lives to ourselves and think to ourselves, we think in very short, to-the-point, fragmented thoughts and sentences. Our internal narrative is not wordy or flowery. I think the basic language kind of words for an action series but I can see where it might annoy people or where it could be slightly more descriptive. And secondly, the mystery in this book...was a bit weaker than the ones in all the other books. I can admit this. I mean, I still totally enjoyed the mystery! But it wasn't as brilliantly-put-together as the other mysteries nor was it as dramatic. You could tell it almost took a backseat to the other issues: Chance lurking around and the emotional fallout from what happened in Code. And I kind of understand; so much happened in Code that SOMETHING had to take a backseat in this book and it appears the mystery did. But there you go, that could be seen as a flaw.
Otherwise...this book was perfect. The action/adventure aspect was fast-paced and totally enjoyable as always. We met some new characters in this book, such as a certain hacker who I really hope shows up in future books because he was hilarious and Tory's friend, Ella, who was also a fun character to read about. I liked her confidence and totally don't-care attitude in the face of bullies. That's the way to bring mean people down: literally do not care. I had all the Tory and Ben feels in this book and Hi really outdid himself with the humor this time. I burst out laughing several times and I really appreciated the Game of Thrones references, being a huge fan of the show and the ASOIAF books.
Also...the whole plot with Chance killed me. I'm still so torn on how I feel about Chance. On one hand, he's a meddling jerk creep and I wish he'd just back off of from the Virals. On the other hand, his blatant confusion and mental distress makes him slightly pathetic and I kind of feel sorry for him. All I'm gonna say is that I really CANNOT believe what Chance has done now. The ending of this book made my jaw drop. Talk about a cliffhanger. The ending of this book changes everything for the Virals and it makes me simultaneously so excited and yet so uneasy. And now we have to wait yet another year for the next book! Waiting for a new book each year is painful but I guess I should be thankful we don't have to wait two years for each book (God forbid).
Oh, and shout out to two things. One: I love how Kathy and Brendan Reichs tie the scenery and setting into the books. It's really fun and creative and since I love history and travel as well, it's kind of like taking a trip throughout Charleston, SC, and I just love how the kids are always going to historic locations and abandoned locations. It adds to the flair of the series, the fact that the setting really adds to the story. Two (and I've gushed about this before): I love how the kids actually do research, actually use science and chemicals to search for, and document clues, how they actually look things up and plan things and break into places... It just seems way more realistic than most action/mystery novels where the kids randomly stumble across the clues or wander around blindly looking for them and don't even use science to reason things out. That whole thing with Tory using that chemical to spray for remnants of blood? Made my respect for the series shoot WAY up because it's the proper way to do things, rather than just have the kids be like, "Ohmygod, look, bloodstains!" I admire the fact that the Reichs take the time to put these details into their books. It also helps Tory's science genius cred. Too many times books have these characters who claim they're smart and intelligent but never actually show it. Tory SHOWS that she's a science geek, as do the rest of the Virals.
Cover: Okay, I've stated before HOW MUCH of an issue I have with these covers. They're not catchy and they're not particularly fun or inspired. I was a HUGE fan of the original covers with the kids running through the jungle, etc. But I can admit that of the new covers, I like this one the best because the green colors and the imagery of falling vines and leaves makes me think of the South Carolina wildlife, so it does seem more connected to the Virals than the other new covers. Still not a huge fan, though.
Overall Grade: A+