Virals: Exposure

 

Its only been a couple of months since the Virals beat the Gamemaster and broke his cruel streak of murders across the country. Its also been a couple of months since Ben admitted to his helping in the Gamemaster's plan. And since Tory had spoken to him. But when two of their fellow Bolton classmates are kidnapped, Tory's interest is peeked. And when one of her friends joins the the list of missing, the Virals, flares at the ready, set out to catch their next criminal.

But the flares have become unpredictable. Coming without warning. Attacking with a new intensity. Has the canine DNA that resides within them become unstable? Is it taking over their own, human, DNA? Or is it something new? Something none of the Virals could have predicted?

Can the Virals overcome the flares to save their classmates? Has Tory finally forgiven Ben? Has Chance discovered the Virals secret?

The threat of their exposure grows as the four crime-solving Virals fight to find their missing friends.

 

 

 

/*** THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***\

**/** SPOILERS ARE PRESENT **\**

 

Of the other three books and two novellas in the Virals series, this book definitely had the most convoluted of the story lines. There was the missing twins they wanted to find. The threat of Chance and his constant hints at knowing of their powers. The attempts to access the encrypted files on Karsten's flash drive. And several other smaller story lines throughout. Overall, their were a lot of plot lines, but Kathy Reichs threw them together beautifully and without error as she always has.

 

First, the flash drive. This was one of two story lines readers knew would be attacked in this book (the other being the Virals problems with Chance). In, Code, Shelton told the other Virals that the files on Karsten's flash drive were heavily encrypted. Way out of his league. But ol' Tory was not going to let it go that easily. And so, in Exposure, the Virals concede and give the flash drive to a master hacke named Variancer. Twenty minutes, three pages, and fifty-five hundred dollars later, the Virals have the files they need to learn about the dangerous virus that now inhabited their body. But knowing Reichs, it couldn't be that easy. So of course, mister master hacker finds a set of "B-Series" files that are even more heavily encrypted. And located on a separate server, which was the only way to access them. And thus ends the hunt for Karsten's files. Or so we thought.

First things, first. Variance seemed like a shifty character from the beginning. First he wants ridiculous amounts of money just to hack a flash drive (which he did while awaiting the money). Second, after being told he was not allowed to read any of the files on the drive, he copies the drives contents in hope of finding the location of the B-series files. Third, after contacting the Virals claiming known where they could access some of the B-Series files, he demanded more money before telling them the exact location. Thats probably why Tory was very much against contacting him again when Shelton finds a second set of B-Series files after accessing the first set. Luckily, because of a surprising epilogue, mister hacker will most likely not make a reappearance. But this is Kathy Reichs we are talking about. So anything could happen.

As it turns out Karsten's files meant very little to the Virals. Of course. Karsten hadn't planned on injecting humans with the virus and thus had no data for which the Virals to compare themselves too. The B-Series files were also no help. And so the files leave the frame of influence a second time.

And then came the epilogue. Normally, I consider epilogues unimportant and thus don't read them, but I had some suspicions about this book and so I read this one. Turns out€¦it was the most important part of the entire book!! Two pages in, Shelton comes running down the street with information on those heavily encrypted second set of B-Series files. He found the server they are located on. And surprise surprise€¦the server is owned by Candela Pharmaceuticals and is registered to Chance Claybourne. And so the Virals skip yet another day of class to visit Candela and get those files. They walk in to Chance's office, and find their worst fears on his computer.

 

Chance has been the Virals biggest threat since the end of the first book, when he witnessed their powers inside his basement. He was taken to mental hospitall for it. He witnessed their powers a second time in Code, and became very suspicious. At the end of Code, Chance finds and begins reading his fathers files about the experiment tha Karsten had started...the one that led to the Virals gaining their powers.

Tory, Hi, and Shelton run into Chance early on in the book, just after leaving the police office and learning that a.) the Gamemaster's trial was over and b.) the Gable twins were missing. In that confrontation, Chance makes some pretty obvious hints at knowing something about the Virals powers. All three of them recognize those hints, and Chance instantly becomes a person-of-interest to the Virals.

After being told that the B-series files on Karsten's flashdrive are being stored on a server owned by Candela Pharmaceuticals, the Virals skip a morning of school to access the server. In a, "theres-a-first-time-for-everything" moment, the Virals are actually get caught in the act of accessing the server. They are taken to Chance. Chance tells Hi, Shelton, and Ben to leave the room, so he could have a "private converstaion" with Tory. In that conversation, Chance reveals that he knows about Parvovirus XPB-19. He knows Karsten infected Coop with it. He knows Karsten thought that it could be potentially contagious to humans. And that he believes that the group of them are infected with that Virus. Tory, of course, denies everything, but these very correct assumptions "make Chance the most dangerous person alive.". Chance ends their conversation with the ominous statement, "Your secret won't stay secert forever."

Chance comes into play a third time, directly after Tory's friend Ella is kidnapped. He finds the Virals rooting around behind a pizza-parlor, the site of Ella's abduction. Again, more hinting from Chance. Unfortunately for him, Ben was there this time, and he did not take kindly to those hints. This is apporximately 60% of the way through the book, and the problem of Chance fades into the background for the remainder of the story, as the Virals switch into "find-the-missing-twins-and-Ella" mode.

But of course, Kathy Reichs has to send one more surprise at us. While looking for suspects one night, Tory stays late in the bunker. When she leaves, she is shot at by a unknown figure. She flares, but the flare acts up and paralyzes her where she lays. When her flares dies, she looks up into a pair of glowing red eyes. Animal eyes. The problem. No animals have red eyes. Tory dismisses this as a hallucination...until she meets Chance for the final time in the book. During the epilogue, the Virals break into Chance's office at Candela's headquarters, looking for infromation on another set of B-Series files. Shelton opens one file that turns the world of Virals upside down. Chance was resurrecting Karsten's Parvovirus experiment. He was going to test the virus to see if he could create another Viral. And that he did. Chance walks in on the group and tells them he would like to open up all of Candela's medical services to the Virals in search of a cure for their condition. First, the Virals all deny they have a "condition". Second, they deny the need for medical attention. At least until Chance flares in front of them. He had not only resurrected the experiment. But he had found a human test subject. Himself. He turned himself into a Viral. A Viral with glowing red eyes.
We can be sure that this will lead to a very interesting fifth book in the series. The possibilities are now endless with Chance as a viral. But the bigger question behind this is why? Why did Chance feel it was a good idea to make himself a Viral, without knowing whether or not Tory, Ben, Hi, and Shelton had actually caught the disease and survived? And is the effect the same on him as on the others?

Now, the remaining story line, the one kept entirely within this book, is not nearly as exciting as the two ongoing ones. It turns out the kidnapped twins, kidnapped themselves for money. Their stepfather, who Tory though was a prime suspect, was stealing money from their bank accounts, and they wanted him to pay a five million dollar ransom for them. They also planned on sharing one million dollars with the head of police in Charleston. Ella was kidnapped by the cheif for "knowing too much". Eventually, Tory located the twins in an old barn. It is here she learns the truth behind what they did. Then the chief of Police gets invovled. Tory flares, ends up taking his gun, and is holding him at gun point when her flare "SNUPs" and she passes out.

Tory awakens in a well with Ella. She uses her flare abilities to get herself out of the well, past the policeman, and to freedom. She teams up with the other Virals and frees Ella from confinement. The chief of police...he fell into abandoned well and was not heard from again. Yah. Pretty convoluted story line right.

 

But now lets go on to something else. The flares.

 

Four times in, Exposure, Tory flared and lost complete control. This happened to Shelton and Hi two times. And to Ben once. The reason remains unknown. To us, the readers. And the Virals. Tory decsribes it once, as being like the flare attacked her. Two other times it comes without any calling. It just happened. Definantly not a good thing for the Virals. Tory shares her fears with Hi and Shelton that the canine DNA that "flares", is becoming stronger and more wild. Possibly even taking over their own DNA. But at the end, Ben informs Tory that he believes it was him that was causing the issue. He said that since their experiences with the Gamemaster and Tory's complete withdrawl from his life he "put up a barrier" between himself and the rest of the pack. And that it wasn't until they took down the cop that was in on kidnapping, that he broke down that barricase. Coincidently, the flares worked perfectly that time.

I believe that it was Ben's version of things that true. I think the canine DNA inside them recognized that they weren't a full pack and was punishing them for it. But when Tory finally forgives Ben, and Ben takes down his "barrier" the DNA saw they were whole again and worked for them. Lesson learned Virals. Stick together.

 

But there was another busisness with the flares in the book. Roughly ten times during the book, Tory would get sudden feelings from the other Virals. As if she was flaring. But she wasn't. They were fleeting. Just whisps of information. But to Tory, it was like the end of the world. During the entire, book I just assumed it was an affect of the canine DNA evolving in her body. Turns out it was Chance and his ill advised experiment. Lets see if that continues in book five. (Lets also see if Tory remains an Alpha, or if Chance begins to take over. (Or if Tory can connect to him as well as the other Virals.))

 

Well, this leaves only one more topic really left to talk about. Tory and Ben.

 

We all knew that their would be relationship drama in Exposure. That much was clear fom the end of Code. But just how much we didn't know. Turns out, it was a lot less than what I was expecting. Sure, there was a lot "don't-acknowledge-him" stuff from Tory, and Ben just being Ben, but overall the level of drama was down considerably from Code. But then again...there was no Jason in this book. Jason had literally maybe a total of a page of content in Exposure. And that definantly brought down the drama. Whether Reichs decide to continue using his charcater to make drama is also now in question with Chance being Viral. A lot of relationship things could happen with that.

But going back to Tory and Ben, are they dating? I don't think so at this point. There was no love talk in this book from either of them, and I honestly don't think there will be much of it in the next book either. Will they someday? The chances are probably about 50-50.