Thursday, February 16, 2023

Review: THE BODY FINDER by Kimberly Derting

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I remember the spring of 2013, being in my last semester of high school and going to a local WA thrift store and finding a copy of The Body Finder on the shelf. I had heard friends talk about how much they loved the book, and the cover had a big gold “Seattle Author” sticker on it, so I brought it to the checkout line. 

I’ve always loved reading books that take place in the Pacific Northwest and that are written by local PNW authors, yet somehow this book sat unread on my shelf for ten whole years before I finally got around to picking it up. 

I was very excited to see, however, that the story takes place in Buckley, WA with references to Bonney Lake, Lake Tapps, White River, and Enumclaw. I grew up in Lake Tapps and I’ve been to all of the places listed and could picture the setting perfectly! I’ve never read a book set so close to home before; it was a very neat experience. 

The Body Finder follows Violet, who can sense “echoes” of bodies that they leave behind when they die, both on their own bodies and on their killers’ bodies. Violet’s ability allows her to sense a dead body buried in the woods when she was a little girl, and again another body drowned in the lake when she was a teenager. 

When a string of local girls goes missing and there is no evidence pointing to a potential suspect, Violet decides to use her ability to track down the killer to help keep herself and her friends safe. 

I absolutely flew through this book; the writing was so digestible and compelling, which was this novel’s biggest strength. The story itself was pretty good too. I loved the idea of Violet being able to sense echoes of the dead. 

The aspects of the story that I didn’t like really weren’t any fault of the author. The book feels like it was written in the early 2010s, which it was. As such, there is some phrasing that would not be acceptable nowadays but was commonplace a decade ago, such as references to the “short bus” and calling someone a slut and a complete lack of any diversity whatsoever. Also, this book falls into the trope of the boy saving the girl from all harm again and again. Sometimes it worked with the story (the final scene for sure), but other times it seemed completely implausible (how did he get to this location at the exact right time?). I don’t see a lot of modern books using this plot device anymore, but it is very apparent and present in The Body Finder

Also—and this is a personal preference—but the plot was only 50% of the story because the other 50% was centered around the romance between Violet and Jay, which kind of pulled me as a reader out of the narrative that was focused on finding the killer. I think that has more to do with the fact that I am an adult reading a book about a teenager and I’m so over reading about teens pining over each other and communicating poorly, etc. 

However, I fully believe that had I read this book ten years ago when I purchased it, I would have totally loved it and rated it in the high-4s or maybe even 5. My reading tastes have changed drastically in the last couple of years, even more so in the last decade that I’ve been reading. I can see this book being something I would absolutely eat up as a teen, especially since the mystery aspect still intrigued me as an adult. I was kept guessing until the end about who the killer was and how the plot would play out. It was just all the other stuff in the narrative that got in the way of me giving this a higher rating as a 27-year-old adult with many many books under her belt.

Overall, The Body Finder was a really fun read, if a bit dated. The concept is super cool, and I appreciated the execution as well, but the heavy romance element breaks up the story too much for my adult taste. Teens who enjoy crime-thriller-romances would likely love this more than I did, but just know it is a product of its time so don’t expect it to be perfectly written. Also, this novel reads as a standalone even though there are four books in the series, so it’s a good one to pick up if you want a quick read without the commitment. I will not be continuing on with the series, but I’m glad I read this first book at least. 

No comments:

Post a Comment