Monday, March 7, 2011

Book Review: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 pages (of magic)
Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (March 16, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061779814
ISBN-13: 978-0061779817
Source: Purchased from Borders
Cover: I love this cover and think it fits the novel perfectly. The blue and black is an attractive combination and it looks really great with the next novel Desires of the Dead.
First Sentence: "Violet Ambrose wandered away from the safety of her father as she listened to the harmony of sounds weaving delicately around her."

The Mini-Review: A fast paced mystery with a smart protagonist and amazing love story sure to live behind it's very own imprint!

Book Summary:

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.

This debut novel by Kim Derting blew me away. With effortless prose, a cast of amazing characters, a plot that keeps going until the last page and as Ms. Derting like to put it "a fair amount of kissing", The Body Finder is one novel that has left a lasting imprint on me.

Violet Ambrose is a heroine to be reckoned with. A normal girl with a morbid ability, Violet tries her best to live a normal life until a dead bodies pulls her to it. I instantly connect with Violet's character. She's a semi-tomboy with a crush she doesn't want to have on her best friend and this really odd knack to stumble upon the dead. But she doesn't let these things rule her. She is smart, willing to trust those around her and she lives life. I really liked that I wasn't shouting at her through half the book for doing stupid things. Violet knew not to run into the woods with a killer-- she ran out. She was intelligent and I really felt that her actions weren't just to move a plot along. I'd spend time with Violet anyday of the week.

And while we're spending time with her, we are luck enough to be spending it with Jay. I've always been a sucker for the boy-next-door/I'm-in-love-with-my-best-friend relationships and Jay's the epitome of that type of romance. Cute, charming, witty and loyal, he's everything a girl could want in a guy. Ms. Derting is a master at crafting a boy that every girl wants-- literally. Everyone in the book is in love with Jay because of his easy smile and kindness. What I enjoyed about this book was living vicariously through Violet and thus also having the boy every girl wanted. It made for a really fun experience.

The thing about Violet and Jay was that I believed in their relationship. Everytime they were on the page together, their connection was this tangible thing that buzzed in the air. These are two of the first characters I've met that were willing to talk to each other. I was a little bored at first because I thought this was going to be the type of story where they each date other people to make each other jealous until they kiss at the very end and then it was over. I was wrong in the best way possible. Ms. Derting found away to give them a happy ending in the middle of the novel so we had plenty of lovely moments with Jay and Violet. It was wonderful reading about them.

As if the characters and their relationship to each other weren't enough, the plot was crazy intense. Violet ends up finding a string of dead girls and that points to a serial killer. Just when I thought I knew exactly how the story was going to play out, Ms. Derting would throw in a nother curveball and I'd have to scramble to figure out how to catch up. The who-dun-it plot is always a great fall back, especially when you've got this character that can do this wonderful unique thing.

Speaking of this wonderfully unique thing, the echoes idea was really great. I didn't feel like I was reading something that had already existed and had just been re-imagined. I felt like I was reading about something completely new. The echoes were so simply and lovely. I liked that they were everyday things and I loved the idea that they imprint on the killer. Great, great, great!

Here's another refreshing thing: Violet's family was not only present but supportive. Her mother and father were aware of her gift and tried to be there for her as much as possible. There was this great scene where Violet leans on her father for strength. Her uncle, who happens to be the chief of police, also knows about and believes in Violet's abilities so she is able to help out him once in a while. There are so many novels where the parents go unnoticed. This wasn't one of them. The adults were just as helpful and untilized as the main character's gift.

Though this writing was in third person, I felt a connect to all the characters and the sentences leapt right off the page. Ms. Derting's prose was smooth and the voice sure of the story it was telling which is impressive considering this is her debut. I loved that we got some chapters following the killer intersparsed with the story. It really upped the ante.

The Body Finder is one of those surprise standout for me. From page one, Violet's strange ability grips the reader and neither the plot or the character get in the way of each other. I strongly suggest grabbing a copy of this novel. It's bound to leave the echo of new love on you long after the last page has been turned though unlike Violet's ablities, for me, I don't think this echo will ever fade.



  1. The ability does sound morbid, but thanks for explaining Violet's character and intelligence. Those are big reasons for me to pick up a YA book, as I don't want to watch someone run into woods in the night while I can only make frustrated sounds here!

  2. I loved this book too. Jay is one of my top fictional boyfriends:) Thanks for the review!

  3. Yay! So glad you enjoyed this one too, I really liked it. I loved Violet and Jay, and I absolutely agree with what you said about their relationship being believable. Can't wait to see what you think of Desires of the Dead!

  4. This book grabbed my interest from the very beginning, too - I love it. I hope she's planning on many more in the series!

  5. I really need to try this one again, I couldn't get into it, but I've read such great reviews.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  6. Amber, what a great review! You beautifully captured the very essence of this book and everything that I so enjoyed! The love part was the only section that I wished was a bit shorter, but I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't the intended audience for it. Ultimately, I loved this story and am really looking forward to the second book. Very creative characters and creepy story line - I completely enjoyed it!

  7. Now I really want to read it! Great review!


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