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The book was about these 4-5 teens who lived near a research center on an island or something... I don't remember the set up as to why these kids were sneaking around on an island where someone was testing genetic modification, but they were. They find like a wolf/dog-puppy of some sort and like catch a virus from it or something. I can't remember how they get infected by the altered genes, but they do. This virus makes them more wolf-like, with better senses and above average speed and strength. Their eyes glow gold when using their abilities. At one point, they go nuts over chicken in their high school cafeteria. Towards the end of the book, they have to break into the research center for some reason... I don't know.

I think it was supposed to be part of a series, but I never found a second book.

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Can you be more specific about approximately when you read this? Was it a physical book or an e-book? Do you recall the cover art or the names of any of the characters?
    – DavidW
    Apr 17 at 16:51

1 Answer 1

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Is this Virals (2010) by Kathy Reichs...? It's the first book in the Virals series.

Front cover of "Virals" (2010) by Kathy Reichs.

A breakdown of the plot on Kathy Reichs' website explains that the main character, Tory Brennan, is the 14-year-old niece of forensic anthropologist, Temperance Brennan, the heroine of Reichs' Bones novels and TV show. Tory lives on a small island near South Carolina with her marine biologist father. Her best friends are a trio of geeks who also live on the island, and the four of them become infected with an experimental virus after breaking into a research lab and freeing a caged dog. Now, when under stress, they turn into golden-eyed, quasi-animals who have the sensory and physical capabilities of wolves. A school cafeteria is also mentioned.

Leveraging the smarty-pants heroine at the heart of her “Bones” bestsellers — legendary forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan — “Virals” stars her niece, Tory Brennan. Aunt Tempe, as she’s known in “Virals,” is referenced throughout the book, providing a genealogical connection that enables Reichs not only to bridge readership between her series but also explain how Tory, a freshman in high school, has such an unusually deep knowledge of the biological sciences.

Every bit as headstrong and intelligent as her famous aunt, Tory is only 14, but what she lacks in life experience she makes up in guts as she faces the classic collision course of corrupt government, old money and big business, all of it unwittingly.

Tory recently lost her mother in a car crash. She now lives with her workaholic marine biologist dad on a small island off Charleston, S.C. — Tory knew nothing about her father until her mother’s death. Finding common ground with her father is a struggle, but at least Tory has no trouble making friends. She is down to earth, pretty, sarcastic — an engaging protagonist who tells her story in an energetic, conversational tone employing ample use of sentence fragments.

Her best buddies are a trio of geeks who also live on the island. Together, they spend their off-time doing what bored, intelligent teens tend to do: exploring things they shouldn’t and, as a result, getting into trouble. After finding an old dog tag, Tory persuades her friends to break into a research lab and use some of its equipment to decipher the tag’s engraving. At the research lab, they discover a caged dog. They free the dog, not knowing the dog is infected with a top-secret, experimental virus. The kids catch the virus, but they’ve also caught something else: major heat from the guy who runs the lab.

The kids and the dog are now pursued by the authorities, and just staying alive is difficult. That problem only worsens when the kids unearth a corpse connected to a powerful senator whose son is one of their classmates — a classmate on whom Tory has a crush.

Complicating matters even further is the tendency among Tory and her friends to “flare.” The dog they rescued infected them with canine DNA that is now part of their genetic makeup, and now, whenever they experience stress, which is often, they turn into golden-eyed, quasi-animals who have the sensory and physical capabilities of wolves.

One minute they’re eating in the school cafeteria, the next they’re uncontrollably drawn to live squirrels and can hear flies’ wings flapping from long distances. This flaring tends to happen at the most hilariously inopportune times, such as the dreaded debutante ball Tory is forced to attend. At least the flares have an upside. Often they lead to clues that help them unravel the mystery.

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    Seconded. I read the first few books a few years ago.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Apr 17 at 17:44

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