Title: Body Finder
Author: Kimberly Derting
Series: Body Finder #1
Genre: Teen Paranormal
Rating: 4/5 stars
The Overview: 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 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, 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 by her hope 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. -Goodreads
Hail the first YA I’ve enjoyed in ages! Join me for a minute for a mini-rant before we get to the review stuff:
I’m testing a theory on why I haven’t been enjoying YA as much lately (5 or so years). Now, I don’t think it’s because I’m no longer a YA – I first got into the genre long after that ship had sailed lol. It might have something to do with the number of books I’ve read and getting tired of similar tropes. But many of the books I’ve picked up over the last few years have actually been quite original. So what changed?! I spent some time examining my reading history, and then it hit me:
That’s it. Audiobooks. As soon as I discovered them as a means to consume more content, my average YA rating plummeted dramatically (I could draw up a chart, but I can’t be bothered atm – just trust that there’s a strong correlation). I love audiobooks in general, but something about the production of YA books where it’s always the exact same sounding 20-something woman trying to make her voice more vocal fry to appeal to the younger generation just throws me off. And they never get the content out fast enough, where even listening at 2.0+ speed makes me feel like I’m wasting my time. And the love interests. Omg the love interests who sound anything but appealing, despite the narrator’s best attempt to infuse masculinity. I just don’t like them. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I don’t think I’ve listened to one yet (note: I did not try listening to the audio for Body Finder, so I’m not specifically criticizing any one production here, just speaking in generalities based on my personal experience).
Anyway, so I tried an experiment – physically reading my next YA book…. And Attempt 1/1 was a huge success!
The Actual Review! (thanks for sticking with me)
I loved this book! Now, granted, I was starting with a gem to begin with. The concept is compelling – a girl who can sense the resonance left by the dead and gets caught up in a local murder mystery. It had the perfect blend of paranormal and whodunnit that had me page-turning all the way to the end.
The book also included a surprisingly good romance! The type where the characters already had a deep history of companionship and you could totally see and feel their draw to one-another throughout the book. It was based on connection and experience without a single insta-love trope in sight. I loved it. I will say the drama may have played out just a tad too long for my tastes when considering overall pacing, but at the end of the day it’s still one of the most delightful ones I’ve read (uh, ever).
I’m hoping the next book will contain even more mystery and magic and perhaps slightly less emotional drama, but after all it’s still a YA, so it’s par for the course.
Another thing I appreciated is that the main character wasn’t a total idiot. There were one or two questionably borderline decisions, but for the most part I thought she handled the situations shrewdly. I liked that.
I had the chance to meet Derting at a signing event several years ago and listen to her speak on a Q&A panel. To this day she is still one of the coolest authors I’ve ever met. Her approach to storytelling and her dry humor in person translates perfectly into her books, and I can’t wait to read more from her. I still have the rest of this series, a prep-school one, and an alien one (I’m really interested in the last one).
Recommendations: if you want a fun mystery infused with a cool paranormal magic on top of a compelling romance, this is a great book! One of my favorites I’ve read this year.
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