Today’s review: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting.
“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”
The Body Finder is the story of a girl who feels echoes of those who have been murdered. Approximately half the novel deals with the hunt for the psychopath killer of a body Violet finds and the other half deals with Violet’s crush on her best friend Jay.
I have mixed feelings about the novel. I find the premise fascinating, but the execution flawed.
Derting does a fantastic job of creating and explaining Violet’s abilities. One of her best moves is to use the cat to explain how Violet learns to identify killers as well as victims. I liked that the echoes of animals and women who are slain are not felt exclusively with one sense. She smells, tastes, hears or sees the echo depending on the body and the echoes seem to relate to the life or death of the victim. I enjoyed the details Derting provided, which surprised me because I was afraid the book would be too icky for me.
What was too icky for me was the “romance”. Violet is in love with her best friend, who of course all the girls at school are swooning over in such an exaggerated fashion it could be in farce movie like Not Another Teen Movie. The ridiculous, overly flirty pathetic girls (remember when the girls followed Victor Krum around while he prepared for the Tri Wizard tournament? multiply that times 100) is not what really drills on my nerves though.
Jay is clearly crazy about her. That was obvious from the very beginning of the novel but if readers thought like Violet they would shriek “spoiler!” because she doesn’t clue for half the book. He’s extremely obvious about his feelings for, and even sulks and throws jealous fits when she agrees to go the dance with someone else but she just dumbly wonders what’s gotten into him. This frustrates me not only because it’s drawn out, but mostly because Violet is supposed to be an intelligent young woman and she’s no smarter than the ditzes who wait in the parking lot for a glimpse of Jay if she can’t see he likes her.
I’m really tired of heroines of YA lit being completely oblivious to people being attracted to her. Violet, like Katniss from Hunger Games (of course Peeta’s only pretending for the cameras 😉 ), Bella from Twilight (“unpopular” but every guy in the book wants her) and so many more popular female characters don’t realize when the guys in their lives follow them around drooling. These women being so clueless is no better than the opposite stereotype of the “it” girl who thinks she’s the most gorgeous of them all and expects all guys to want her (Lissie in this book).
At the beginning of the novel I liked Jay, he seemed funny and charming and someone who would be a great friend and boyfriend. Once he actually speaks his obvious feelings for her out loud his character goes down hill. His whole identity becomes the guy who loves Violet. He looses any realistic dialogue or sense of humour and becomes big, hunky, protective, horny boyfriend guy. There are some pretty steamy make out sessions that leave just the right amount to the imagination, but he feels like a cardboard cutout once we “know” he loves violet. This in combination with her cluelessness about him liking her makes the romance half of the novel blah for me.
To Derting’s credit the mystery part of the novel was more intriguing. There were a few twists I liked and I was compelled to read on and see who was responsible, who would be killed…
I have problem with the way she treats Grady and I saved this for last because it has spoilers so you may want to stop reading this review if you plan to read the book but haven’t yet
I hate the way she treats Grady when he’s nice and I hate the way she treats Grady when he’s “a dick” (Derting’s word not mine)
Grady asks her to the dance and she says yes even though she wants to go with Jay. She convinces herself he’s just a friend (because she’s clueless or wants to be). He starts walking her between classes, sitting with her at lunch, waiting for her after school…and she does nothing to discourage him. If you don’t like a guy, don’t lead him on like that.
Grady assaults her; he continues kissing and groping her when she is trying to physically fight him off, only stopping because he is literally forced to. She doesn’t tell anyone about it, she just ignores his numerous calls that I think get a bit stalkerish (14 messages may be a little much for one night…) and she tells him she is over it. I think especially with what is going on with missing girls she should have made a bigger deal about what probably would have been a rape.