Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting Book Review

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.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

House of Dance Contest at Beth Kephart's Blog

Beth Kephart is having a contest over at her blog.  Tell her your definition of dance and two lucky winners will get a paperback copy of her fabulous book House of Dance.

And speaking of fabulous books, Beth just received some great news about her upcoming book The Heart Is Not a Size.  Stay tuned to this blog for some more Heart related posts as we get closer to it's release date on March 30th.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Every Little Thing in the World by Nina de Gramont Book Review

Every Little Thing in the World by Nina de Gramont
(Atheneum, Hardcover, March 2010)

When 16-year-old Sydney finds out that she's pregnant, she has no idea what to do. So she keeps it a secret from everyone but her best friend Natalie. Sydney thinks that she just needs time to decide what to do and how to tell her mom. Then her mom enrolls her in a six-week canoe camp in Canada and Natalie invites herself along. Sydney has to make the biggest decision of her life on this trip and Natalie's opinions aren't helping.

In my review of Nina de Gramont's first novel Gossip of the Starlings, I said that she perfectly captures what is like to be an adolescent on the verge of adulthood. The same holds true for this novel. Sydney is forced to grow up when she finds out that's she is pregnant. The juxtaposition of Sydney's upcoming decision and the carefree world of summer camp illustrate the two worlds that Sydney is straddling. Natalie's desire for Sydney to keep the baby sets up a nice pro-life/pro-choice debate, but it also serves to show how friendships change as we grow up. I thought this novel had great character development, a thought-provoking topic, and a unique setting. I'm excited that de Gramont has ventured into teen literature and I can't wait to see what she writes next.