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Kimberly Derting – The Body Finder

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If she can find the dead, can she find the killer too?

Publisher: Headline
Pages: 327
Type: Fiction
Age: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-0-7553-7895-1
First Published: 16th March 2010
Date Reviewed: 3rd November 2010
Rating: 4/5

Violet Ambrose has an uncanny ability – she can sense the “echoes” from the dead bodies of people who’ve been killed. So when the disappearance of young women becomes a regular occurrence in her small hometown, Violet is the first one to know. But at the same time she’s struggling with her feelings for her best friend, feelings that have changed since the last school term. She’s changed, he’s changed, but has he changed in the same way she has?

I’d had only fleeting contact with this book before I read it, seeing the cover a few times but feeling completely uninterested. Like many paranormal books for teenagers at present, the base colour is black, but rest assured, this isn’t Twilight, not in the least. Yes, it shares a few features: a prom, a gushy romance, and maybe Violet gets into some awkward situations, but in the main is it difficult to so much as guess where the author might have got her ideas from.

There is a real sense that Derting wants to impart advice to her readers, but she never goes overboard, instead speaking the same as any parent but going further by telling a detailed narrative about why one should listen to those warnings. What’s interesting is that while the book reads as a fictional account, and a lot of emphasis is placed on everything else unrelated, when it comes to the sections solely about the killer Derting doesn’t paint over it – while she doesn’t present the most harrowing story she works well within the parameters she’s set herself.

Surprisingly, although when generalised you would say this story focuses on death, there is a great amount of romance in the book. This is what makes it a story for younger readers, and certainly it’s an appropriate account of love for the target audience. Derting limits how far the couple go while straying a little past the usual borders, and although it can become soppy at times she always remembers to create mini conflicts in a way that pushes any bubble, that may have been forming over the couple, far away.

This leads to the characters in the book. Violet exudes confidence, and her lack of love for her appearance is but a realistic flaw. She only ever becomes helpless in understandable circumstances, and the times when she goes against common sense are explained – there is always a good reason for it. Romance-wise, when Violet starts to lean perilously close to drooling she tends to remember that feigned spite and disagreements are often fun. This girl walks into danger all the time, but she knows the risks, and when Jay comes to protect her she gets angry. I assure any would-be reader, in lure of the current batch of damsels, that like Jenny from The Forbidden Game, this is someone to really root for.

Jay is much the same as Violet, and he only appears as less daring because he’s not the major character. Jay can command, but he’ll also follow. His hero moments work because of Violet’s tendency to walk into jeopardy, and when he does get angry it’s logical.

The writing is very undemanding of the reader and the book quick to get through. The subplots always serve a purpose and the story is told without any particular drifting into unnecessary areas – which is more than can be said of Violet.

Although much of the ending is predictable, the climax itself isn’t, and if the loose threads are dealt with too quickly then it’s reasonable as a second book will be released shortly.

In The Body Finder, Derting puts a number of genres onto a plate and mixes and matches until she has ample quantities of each while sticking to the overall expectations that events of the past few years have created in young readers. She goes beyond what a lot of writers have been doing, unafraid to break the mould. It’s compelling without being too compelling, worrying without being too scary, and damn sexy whilst resisting sex.

The question now is will the echo from this book reach you?

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November 13, 2010, 4:16 am

The Body Finder sounds like Twilight but without all the bad parts! I’ve not read Twilight, because so many flaws have been cited, but this one sounds quite good.

Charlie: The Body Finder lacks the development of Twilight because it’s shorter but it would make a good alternative that’s a real alternative I reckon.

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