The Body Finder
HarperCollins, March 2010
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 that 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 the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.
Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping 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.
First, a caveat:
This is a Young Adult romance and I don’t read a lot of YA. The last one I read was TWILIGHT just to see what all the hoopla was all about. Before that, it was probably a Judy Blume way back (we won’t say how many years) in junior high. For the most part, when I was a young adult I was reading Steven King, John Saul and VC Andrews. Yes, I was very into horror back then.
The author nailed the crazy emotions of teen romance without going overboard on the angst. Maybe it was because I’ve walked in Violet’s shoes and this book brought back all those old feelings again. I can remember having a goofy guy as one of my best friends and then waking up one day and feeling something more for him. It was confusing and scary and thrilling all at the same time. And, like Violet, I also had to contend with half of my class suddenly realizing he was something pretty special too. Then there was the dilemma: Do I let him know how I feel and possibly ruin our friendship? I never had the chance to find out. He moved away before I got the guts to tell him.
Violet’s paranormal gift is quite unique. At least, I’ve never run across it before. When an animal or person is murdered, they leave an echo. It might be visual, as in a color, aura or sheen. Or it could be a taste, or sound, or odor. Whatever it is, the sensory detail imprints on the victim and their killer and, like fingerprints, no two are alike. Violet can see, smell, hear or taste these echoes when she’s near a body or their killer. I thought that was brilliant. And the way the author hid the killer’s identity was a nice twist, too.
The main thing I had a problem with was this book was a little heavy on the romance side of things. *Gasp* I know, I’m a romance writer so how could there be such a thing as too much romance? But the suspense part was sooo good, I wanted more. The peeks into the villain’s psyche via brief scenes in his POV were quite creepy and the moments where Violet senses death and is closing in on the killer are gripping. I’d say the suspense to romance ratio was something like 40/60. It would have been a much stronger book if it were reversed. Hopefully the second book will be.
Oh, and the ending had the heroine going to a school dance on crutches. Sound familiar? Of the two YA romances I’ve read in the past 20-odd years, they both have a similar ending. What are the odds?
The ‘IT’ Factor:
In a world glutted with high school vampires, Derting came up with a very unique premise in Violet’s paranormal ability. Combine that with page turning suspense and a love story many of us can identify with, and this book has the IT Factor times three.