I received a text message not too long ago (maybe a month ago) from a good friend from library school, asking me if I had read either The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting or Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins. It is not that often that I have friends asking me if I have read not one, but two YA books that I haven’t. My friend continued to tell me that they both were Nori-type books, and that I should give them a try. So, thank you Abby. Hex Hall will be read soon, and The Body Finder was definitely my type of book.
The book begins with the main character, Violet, remembering the first time her “ability” took her to a human being. Her ability is to find dead things (animals and people). And her memory was of being drawn to something in the woods, and digging up a dead body, when she was eight years old. Now, she’s a teenager who is in love with her best friend. The only people who know what she can do are her parents, and her best friend. They help her maintain her cemetery. Once she gets drawn to something dead (usually an animal) she doesn’t feel right, or close to normal again until she can burry it. Also, she can tell which people, anywhere, have killed before and connect them to those they have killed. She doesn’t like being around anyone in the military or police. And most cemeteries are hard for her too.
In the midst of Violet’s relationship with her best friend, the other relationship she has with a different guy, and all the standard juicy teen drama, is the story of the serial killer, slowly making his way around Violet’s town and surrounding neighborhoods. When the killer actually kills someone Violet knows, she decides it is time to put her ability to good use.
The thing that absolutely sealed the deal for me with this book was the point of view switches. I talked about how a lot of YA authors are doing books in the point of view of the girl and the guy now, switching off between them. What I have yet to see done anywhere else but here, is the author switching from the point of view of the main character to that of the villain, or in this case the serial killer. The serial killer sections were short and far between Violets’ sections; however, they were the sections that kept me up late at night worrying. I kept reading the serial killer’s point of view, thinking his next victim was Violet because Derting would end a chapter with Violet getting into a car, and the serial killer’s section would start with a girl getting into his car. I kept waiting for the girl to be Violet.
There was a twist that I did not expect, a high school dance, teen parties, a shoot-out at school, a mass search party, some special ability covering up, juicy romance scenes, and a lot of teen horror movie type suspense. This would definitely be a good book to give to reluctant readers (though, I would suggest girls).
The being in love with her best friend thing did get a little old a little fast. The first quarter of the book reminded me a little too much of Dawson’s Creek, with the best friend obsession thing. However, it gets better. And Violet got major points from me for being able to stick up for herself against those she loved. Yes, she loved Jay, but that didn’t mean she never got mad at him.
I would group this book along with Meg Cabot’s 1-800 Where Are You? series and Kelley Armstrong’s first YA series that started with The Summoning. This book is sort of a mixture of those two books, plus the show Dexter. I give it an 8/10.