The Body Finder (The Body Finder #1), by Kimberly Derting
Publish Date: March 16, 2010
Published by: HarperCollins
Genre: YA Paranormal/YA Romance/YA Mystery
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.5 out of 5 stars)
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 left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.
Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope 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.
I have been in a contemporary/paranormal sort of mood lately, so this one definitely fit the bill when I randomly chose to pick it up from my TBR. It was an engaging story, with an interesting main character and premise, a great friend-to-lovers romance, and a captivating and suspenseful plot.
The story was intriguing from the start, with both Violet’s ability to sense the dead and her budding feelings towards her best friend Jay playing right into my interests. Violet’s ability is well-introduced and works well within the story. And I did think that, towards the beginning, some things were explained in strange ways, with a lot of Jay and Violet’s friendship being shown by their own reminiscing of moments together when they were younger (and while sure best friends do that, having so many moments mentioned one after the other seemed a little strange and forceful of the issue). But, once we got past that and the story really took off, everything flowed much better.
While the pacing of the plot was overall good, and the story worked well, I did feel like there were some flaws in it. There were some scenes and moments that were given far too much attention detail-wise, especially when they did little to move the action or plot along. And when it was supposed to be about character relationship development – well, the details didn’t really lend to that either (I’m talking about the scene when Jay was cleaning the scrapes on Violet’s knees). I did, however, like how the ending played out, because there were so many moments where I expected one thing to happen, but something else happened instead, and it was nice that it wasn’t completely predictable.
I thought it was really interesting to include to point-of-view of the killer, although everything he thought and felt was a little…textbook-psychopath. It just felt like the profile of a killer one might read about in a forensics journal or something. And the plot twist about him, while unpredictable, also felt a little unbelievable because there had been no hint during his own perspectives to give the reader a clue about it. On the other hand, not giving a name to the killer was such an interesting take. It made him into the monster that was so disgusting in his behavior that he didn’t deserve to be humanized with a name, and I kind of loved it.
I really enjoyed Violet as the protagonist. She was different from most YA protagonists I read, and it was kind of refreshing. She’s sociable, has a great relationship with her parents, and despite her obvious fright about the murders going on, decides to find a way to use her ability to stop him anyway. And she makes smart decisions, too – knowing when to pull back and call her uncle, the police chief, for help, despite some other not-so-smart decisions she makes over the course of her investigation. I do wish she had stood up for herself more in certain cases, and that maybe she reconsidered some of the people she calls “friends”, but overall she was a really interesting protagonist.
Jay is a little hard to chew on the other hand. I really want to like him, and for the most part I do. I love how protective he is of Violet, and how much he loves her, but some things he said and did rubbed me the wrong way. When their relationship started growing it felt like he got a little more controlling, and a little presumptive too, not really taking into account how she felt about telling the rest of society about their new relationship. He just felt possessive to me in some way and while it lessened a bit as the story continued, I just don’t know how I feel about that overall.
There was also the issue that, aside from being pigheaded, stubborn, and quick to be angry or protective, there really wasn’t much I saw about his own character that didn’t revolve around Violet. I wish I knew more about Jay himself, I guess is what I’m saying, and that just didn’t show up in this story.
There were many side characters in the book, some who were interesting and some who were just sort of present. There were several stereotyped girls in the school – the mean queen bee, the ones who fawned over Jay – and then there were Violet’s friends whom I could not stand. Chelsea is the no-nonsense tells-it-like-it-is jock-type who, while a good friend, can also be very insulting. There’s Jules who feels like she is present but so bland she doesn’t have a personality. And then there’s Claire, who is basically the ditzy Karen Smith (Mean Girls) of the group (and, who it turns out, is also a homophobe, which apparently all of her friends just kind of gloss over. Nice, real nice). And finally you have Grady Spencer, the friend who is suddenly interested in Violet, doesn’t know how to read the signs of disinterest, gets drunk and molests her, and after a few apology phone calls and texts, is completely forgotten about for the rest of the story. Albeit there was a serial killer on the loose, so yeah that took precedence, but still. I think some more focus could have been shed onto that issue there. I honestly think the best side character was Violet’s uncle, the chief of police, who was very supportive of Violet while also being protective – but not to the point of hovering.
I would say, overall, it was captivating read, with lots to hold the attention. The romance was interesting (and despite some questionable moments, still swoon-worthy for the most part), the murder mystery was suspenseful, and Violet’s ability was such an intriguing and well-written aspect of the story. Despite some flaws in some of the characters and in the writing, I think it was still a good read and I think I will most likely be continuing the series.
Beat the Backlist 2018 | Books Completed Toward Goal: 17/20