Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Title: The Body Finder
Author: Kimberly Derting
Publisher: HarperCollins
Hardcover, 323 pages
Date Published: March 16, 2010

Description (Taken from Goodreads):
Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself. 

While I enjoyed The Body Finder, it really did not live up to my expectations. I’ve read some great reviews of it, but it just fell short for me. The premise of a girl who can sense the dead and their killers through smells, sights, sounds, tastes, etc. is beyond interesting and holds so much promise, but we don’t learn much about it. Violet has this strange gift and it’s just accepted with no further discussion. I’m hoping Desires of the Dead focuses a bit more on that aspect.

The story moves pretty quickly once Violet discovers the first body. Derting does an exceptional job building suspense about just who the killer is and the descriptions of Violet’s ‘sensations’ towards the echoes (the smells, sights, tastes, sounds, etc. that stick to the dead/murderer) are chilling at times. Violet herself is easy to like. She’s young and, while a little dumbed down by love, she’s more than strong when need be and she doesn’t back down from a fight.

One thing I loved about this book was the involvement of Violet’s parents/family. YA often brushes parents aside and forgets about them, but Violet’s family is involved. Things go wrong, they’re there. She’s upset, they’re there. They don’t ignore her or disappear on her. They actually care about her and pay attention to her. They worry. They act like parents for a change.

Now onto what I didn’t like…

The murder story took a backseat to the romance. I was hoping for this crazy murder plot made more interesting by Violet’s ‘gift,’ but instead I got a love story with a murder thrown in. And I wasn’t all that into the love story. Jay just didn’t appeal to me the way he does to almost every girl in the book. Violet’s feelings for her best friend Jay borders on crazy infatuation at times. There’s a killer on the loose knocking off girls like it’s his job and sometimes it seems like Violet’s only worried about what Jay’s doing and why he isn’t talking to her.

As a character, Jay fell kind of flat for me. He’s nice and sweet and good-looking, but there’s not much more depth. I know other readers will adore the cute boy, but I don’t. I don’t hate him by any means, but he was too one dimensional for me, as were all of Violet’s other friends. A few aspects of the plot just seemed way too convenient and contrived as well. It was like every piece just fell into place too easily.

Still, The Body Finder is definitely a worthy read. The story is paced well and kept interesting by the interspersed chapters from the deranged killer’s mind. Those chapters are more than a little creepy and kept me glued to the book. I was anxious to find out just who decided to turn these small towns into killing fields.

Opening line: Violet Ambrose wandered away from the safety of her father as she listened to the harmony of sounds weaving delicately around her. ~ pg. 1

Favorite line(s): He was insatiable, he decided. Unquenchable. Ravenous for the chase. Soon, he assured himself. Soon. ~ pg. 156

I'm leaning more towards 3.5 
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it. 

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Melissa said...

You know, I've read mixed reviews on this one. It sounds so good, but I'm not sure I can deal with flat characters. Great review, Nikki :)

BrittLit said...

I agree that too many YA novels ditch the parents. Although sometimes parents are overly absent from their kids lives. Great honest review!

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

Melissa - It's definitely still worth the read and I plan on reading the sequel. I can get past the more flat characters because (aside from Jay) they're all secondary and in the periphery and Violet is center stage.

BrittLit - I agree with you. It was a nice change though to read about parents that were present and seemed to care.

Michelle said...

The Body Finder is one of my favorite debuts I LOVE the story.

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