Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Published: March 16th 2010 by HarperTeen
Hardcover, 336 pages
isbn: 0061779814
ISBN13: 9780061779817

Inside jacket flap:
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.

At the young age of eight, Violet found her first dead body. Dead human body, that is. What she didn't know then but soon learns, is that the little girl she found was the very beginning of the serial-killing spree that was rampaging her small Washington town. Through Violet's youth, she and her "gift" had grown accustomed to each other. Comfortable, in a way. The strange feelings that Vi was starting to experience for her best friend that she'd known since they six years old. Somewhere along the line these feelings develop into the real deal. When they go to a party as a kind of end-of-summer kick off, they don't anticipate the dead girl's body Vi finds in the murky lake water. Besides Violet's immediately family, Jay is the only one who knows about her "gift" to sense dead bodies, and their killers.

I've heard nothing but great praise for The Body Finder and expected to find this suspenseful tale with a romance mixed in. That was what I found, in the end. However, I didn't think to anticipate that the two plot lines were going to try fighting for dominance every chance they got. In the beginning, it started off as a predictable tale about a girl who could sense the dead that were murdered. I even guessed that one of her family members had to be in law enforcement before I even read the part about her uncle being the chief of police. (I swear I'm psychic.)  I have to say that I can't immediately agree with the high marks other reviewers have said about this novel. Derting's writing just seemed to have me on edge quite some bit of the time, not fully chalking that off to the story's "suspense." Nonetheless, my favorite part was the mysterious tale of the serial killer, and those short chapter-interruptions for a brief monologue for the killer was brilliant. I just wish that the author had stuck with that throughout the whole novel instead of splitting it down the middle. And I mean this quite literally. Right around the center of the novel's core, the flow of Violet's tale seemed to veer off a bit and catch up with the romance between her and Jay. Their romance while stimulating at times, but seemed forced, strained. And at different points in the ending, downright corny and cliched. What a disappointment. I had so many hopes that The Body Finder would be unlike any novel I had yet to read. It was, just not in the way I had thought. The last chapter where Derting seemed to be trying to clean up the mess, left me unsatisfied and with a slight after-taste in the back of my throat.

On a lighter note, I loved the subtle dark aspect the author pulled off with Violet's small animal backyard-graveyard, I just couldn't get past the fact that the story did not pull me in.

Grade: B-