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Kimberly Derting – The Last Echo

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If love hurts, what does no love do?

Publisher: Headline (Hachette)
Pages: 358
Type: Fiction
Age: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-0-7553-8915-5
First Published: 29th March 2012
Date Reviewed: 4th April 2012
Rating: 4.5/5

Violet has joined Sara Priest’s team, joining others who have abilities. When an anonymous caller tips the police off about a body, Violet goes to find it – another body that adds to a list of girls a man has killed. When another girl goes missing, the hunt begins again and Violet sees how each person on her team has talents that she believes best hers. Yet hers may turn out to be the most important.

The Last Echo is the third in the series of books that is one of those where the author could keep writing and writing and never be considered taking it too far. Never employing filler tactics, Derting heads towards each book’s conclusion, ensuring there are no dull spots and that the strength that begins each book continues until the end.

The book moves away from the singular nature of The Body Finder and Desires Of The Dead. Whereas the first book was all about Violet, and of course Jay, and Desires Of The Dead bore the light inclusion of Sara Priest and Rafe, The Last Echo pulls in a bunch of characters which ensures that while the basic idea – find crime, find victim, get caught by killer, solve case – may be the same, there is ample reason to want to read on. And while the inclusion of several main characters into a previously single-character story often serves as the beginnings of a waning talent, Derting’s usage only improves her tale and allows her to develop Violet further. In fact this usage is a part of an overall element that pervades her work – she never uses ideas to excess, constantly only using things minimally – and it is completely refreshing.

But what does this mean for the other section of the plot, the development of Violet and Jay’s relationship? Inevitably there is less time given to it, which might seem a pity at first because it is another example of where Derting excels, but thinking about it is rather appropriate as well as being understandable. In order for Violet to progress and thus for the story to remain interesting, Derting cannot let things stay the same in the way she tells her story. Therefore more time has to be given to Sara’s team. And the fact that a lot of time has been spent previously on the relationship means that what Derting does include – hot and realistic as usual (another plus) – feels enough. The reader knows about the relationship and unless there is a break-up, moving it to the back seat is entirely rational.

However this doesn’t mean that nothing happens in the relationship at all, for of course we have this potential angst-maker in Rafe. Jay doesn’t like Rafe, because he worries about having a rival, but that doesn’t mean he puts his foot down. On the contrary he trusts Violet and lets her do what she needs to do. And best of all, Derting treats this potential triangle with care; she doesn’t fall into the trap of dramatising it and doesn’t make it the be all and end all of her book. The reader looking for romance over thriller will be disappointed, because Derting won’t get bogged down in issues that don’t relate to her plot.

There are a couple of fantastic twists, including, as always, a hint of the path the next book will take. Or maybe it won’t follow it – that possibility in itself being a reason to keep reading. And Derting doesn’t let the climax move in the way previous experience may have led you to expect, though as before she allows it to play out slowly, a true thriller thread that makes no allowances for those who want things to end quickly.

So she’s a master at relationships, at structuring her story, at slow but sure character development, and at writing a creepy young adult thriller. The only Derting could rethink is her literal use of language – there are quite a few repetitions and “interesting” usages. But if a good story overrides perfected prose then Derting is a competitor for the crown, and her stories, her knowledge of people, and the obvious research that prevents errors, means that the words themselves don’t matter anywhere near as much as the whole. Even her villain is well characterised and given lots of time for presenting his side of the story.

The Body Finder was great, so too was Desires Of The Dead, but like the top authors, Derting has taken it up another step and the potential for the fourth book is incredible. Knowing Derting, she won’t disappoint.

If Violet could create an echo for the book, it would be short and would reflect the fact that you really ought to read this book.

I received this book for review from Headline publishers.

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Stepping Out of the Page

April 17, 2012, 3:54 pm

Great post. I still need to read The Body Finder, but I am very excited to do so! I love the idea of it. I am glad that Derting seems to be such a good writer.

New to your blog!
Stephanie @ Stepping Out of the Page

Hi Stephanie, welcome. Do read it, definitely. It’s such a fresh example of YA.

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