The Body Finder, Kimberley Derting

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

To quote the wisdom of Ben Parker, "With great power comes great responsibility". In The Body Finder, Violet Ambrose discovers the truth of this statement when she is drawn into the search for kidnapped girls in her small Washington town.

Violet has known since she was a little girl that she could sense things that other people could not. For as long as she can remember, she has been drawn to the bodies of small animals killed by predators, compelled to give them a peaceful burial in her backyard. At the tender age of eight, she was drawn to the biggest, most gruesome discovery of her short life-the body of murdered girl. Despite Violet's inexplicable discovery of the body, the killer is never captured.

Nine years later, Violet's town and the surrounding area are once again rocked by the disappearance of young girls. While at an end-of-summer party, Violet is drawn to the body of one of the disappeared girls, floating in the marshy reeds at the edge of a lake. Older now, Violet realizes that not only can she feel the bodies of the violently deceased, she can sense the same energy coming from their killers. Violet, with her best-friend-maybe-boyfriend Jay, hatch a plan to search for the serial murderer terrorizing their small town. But the responsibility she feels to the dead may come with deadly consequences for herself.

Derting has managed a pretty astounding feat with this novel. She has written a sweet teenage love story and a gruesome murder mystery all in one. And amazingly, neither one feels shorted. While the theme of friend-turned-love-interest is a common one, Derting does an admirable job making this particular love story charming and believable. While there is no real explanation or exploration of how and why Violet got her unique ability, the internal logic of what it is and how it works hang together pretty well. Derting creates enough suspense that I found myself unable to put the book down the closer I got to the end, and there was at least one gasp-worthy moment as the story came to a head. While this book reminded me in some ways of Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers, it is much less graphic, and the violence when it comes is more implied that explicit.

This book is the first in a series about Violet and her strange power, so if you are looking for a new YA series for yourself, or if you are looking to hook a teenage reader with a love of supernatural crime shows (goodness knows the CW is full of them), then I suggest checking this out. We are using it next school year as a choice book for literature circles with our senior English classes, and I sincerely hope the students who choose it enjoy it as much as I did.

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