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by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs
Young Arrow, January 2013
416 pages
12.99 GBP
ISBN: 0099543850

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

This is the third of Kathy Reichs' novels for young adults. It is October and Tory Brennan and the Virals are back at school. Her father, Kit, has been appointed Director of the Loggerhead Island Research Institute, following the teenagers' last adventure that provided the means to save the Institute from closure. His girlfriend, Whitney is determined that Tory will 'come out' at the Charleston debutante ball, much to Tory's disgust.

When her friend Hiram develops an interest in geocaching, they find a cache on Loggerhead Island, which turns out to be the first in a series of increasingly difficult, deadly and time-limited puzzles set by the mysterious Gamemaster. They must solve the puzzles alone and on time or innocent lives are at risk. The clues take them to an abandoned fort, the golf course, a Benedictine monastery and the debutante ball. Only by using their special abilities can they follow the clues and try to save the day.

The final battle is played out as Hurricane Katelyn rages over Charleston. Can the Virals prevent a disaster and bring the Gamemaster to book?

Kathy Reichs's style is sparse and fast-moving and the book was difficult to put down. Her science is generally spot-on, but I needed to suspend my disbelief when it came to the effects of the virus on the gang and the development of their powers. However, it makes for a very good story. Similarly hard to take was the degree of freedom from parental supervision enjoyed by the teenagers, but again this was necessary to the story, and is a recurring theme in books for young adults and children, often referred to as the problem of how to get rid of the parents.

It is often the side plots that make the characters into real people and give them a life outside the immediate story. Here, Tory's difficult relationship with Whitney, the taunts of the school bullies and the burgeoning jealousy between best friend Ben and beau Jason fill out the background of a teenager's life.

Attempting, no doubt, to create an authentic teenage voice, the book contains some very current cultural references. It will be interesting to see whether teenagers ten years hence will understand and respond to them.

All in all, this is a very enjoyable read and I am looking forward to more adventures for the Virals.

Sylvia Wilson is a professional veterinary surgeon and amateur singer and actor who lives in Gloucestershire, England with her husband, dog, and horses.

Reviewed by Sylvia Wilson, March 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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