The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
(HarperTeen, Hardcover, March 2010)
Dead bodies seem to call to Violet Ambrose. Ever since she was little and uncovered the body of a teenage girl in the woods, Violet has been able to find dead bodies--mostly, squirrels, mice, cats, and other woodland creatures. Their "imprint" calls to her, through colors, smells, and noises. Violet has learned to deal with her ability, but when a serial killer starts murdering girls in her town, Violet can't escape the horror. Even worse, it looks like the serial killer is targeting Violet.
The Body Finder is one of the most exciting, original fantasy books that I've read in awhile. The novel is full of suspense and descriptive passages. Violet's ability to see/hear/smell imprints comes across as spooky but also beautiful. Here's a passage from the beginning of the novel. Violet and her friends are enjoying a lazy summer afternoon at a lake when Violet feels the pull of something dead and sees what looks like the sheen of an oil spill in the water.
"Multihued light seemed to be radiating up from beneath the water, centered among the reeds, and then diffusing outward as it reached the surface. Violet had never seen anything like it and she knew that the spectrum of light was defying its very nature by behaving in that way. It could only be one thing. There was something dead down there....The vibrant light continued to play off the waves from below, fading into a fine, colorful mist as it broke through the surface of the water and vanished into the air." (pp. 61-62)The characters in Kimberly Derting's novel are well-written and believable. Violet agonizes over school, family, and her sudden crush on Jay, her best friend. Quite frankly, it was nice to read about a family that was supportive for a change. When confronted with Violet's gift at an early age, Violet's dad believes his daughter instead of shipping her off to a psychiatric ward. He acts like a parent figure and allows Violet to live a relatively normal life. The book also has an incredibly sweet and touching romantic element, for those of you who are romance fans. In the acknowledgments of the book, Kimberly thanks her editor for helping her to "polish The Body Finder into something that sparkles." And sparkle it does. The plot is creative, the characters fully developed, and the writing compelling. And make sure to keep your eyes open for the sequel which will be published in 2011 and titled The Desires of the Dead.