Virus by Helen Fitzgerald

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Book description

So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety six people have seen me online. They include my mother, my father, my little sister, my grandmother, my other grandmother, my grandfather, my boss, my sixth year Biology teacher and my boyfriend James.

When Leah Oliphant-Brotheridge and her adopted sister Su go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their A-levels, only Leah returns home. Her successful, swotty sister remains abroad, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing a sex act in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it. Ruth Oliphant-Brotheridge, mother of the girls, successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her dutiful, virginal daughter? What role has Leah played in all this? And can Ruth find Su and bring her back home when Su doesn’t want to be found?

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The opening sentence of Viral is creating a social media storm, everyone’s talking about it and debating that first line! Yes it’s shocked me, and yes I thought I was reading a totally different genre at first, more along the lines of the 50 shades!, but it certainly worked, as I was gripped from “that” first sentence, as I was intrigued to see how the plot would develop.

Viral Opens with a group of young girls in Magaluf on holiday for the first time without their parents, throw in bucketful of alcohol, and illegal drugs and you know it’s not going to end well. Viral unfortunately has a very believable plot, it’s a sorry tale of peer pressure, binge drinking, resentment and jealousy. It also explores the consequences of such behaviour and the devastation suffered by the victim, their family and friends long after the event. The story also highlights just how easy it is for a video to go viral within a few hours of being posted on social media.

Although Viral started out well, I found it the characters lacked realism and none of their responses felt very authentic. I really disliked Ruth, I felt I had no empathy for her or her situation, as she comes across as domineering, self centred, and emotionally cold. What could have been a very realistic tale, loss some credibility half way through, without giving away spoilers it’s suffice to say that events did not match the emotions. I also found Ruth’s way of dealing with the instigators of Su’s shameful act, rather hard to believe. Yes I can understand a mother wanting to protect her daughter and get revenge, but considering Ruth is a successful court judge I found it hard to believe that she would choose to act the way she did.The book raises some important issues about how our society treats women and sexuality. However, I felt let down by the ending, there were just to many unanswered questions in my opinion.

At just over 300 pages Virus is a relatively quick read, and I know a lot of bloggers have raved about it, but I personally found it a mediocre read. I found it difficult to find any real empathy for any of the characters, and if I’m truthful I found them irritating at times. In my opinion Viral is a very topical, believable (in parts) read, but it didn’t keep me gripped to the last page, which I thought it would, so unfortunately I’m only going to give Viral 3 out of 5

3 ☕️☕️☕️out of 5 from me

Publishers: Faber & Faber; Main edition 2nd Feb. 2016

Kindle

Paperback

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