Tuesday, April 13, 2010

book review - the body finder by kimberly derting

my two cent(ence)s - great premise with a great prologue. loved how the main character finds the bodies, but not in love with the writing or how the plot develops.

the body finder has one of the most promising openings i've ever read. had i not already bought the book, i would definitely have slapped my money down on the counter for it after reading the prologue. there was a beauty to how the paragraphs formed, and a wonderful sense of suspense as we are introduced to the main character. i absolutely loved the opening pages, which is probably why i felt so let down by the rest of the book.

violet is a high school student who has the ability to find the bodies of dead animals if they've been hunted or killed by a predator. she senses the bodies through "echos" which she can either see, hear, smell or taste. unfortunately for violet, these echos persist until she can give these animals a "proper" burial, and only then will the echos fade. she is also able to detect these echos on the predatory animals, like her cat who loves to hunt mice and birds. the reader discovers that when an animal kills, it is imprinted with the echo of its victim.
when violet is just a child, she discovers the body of a murdered girl, which the reader knows will not be the last she discovers.

see? really good premise, right?

violet doesn't just sense echos - she senses the changes her lifelong best friend, jay, has gone through over the summer. now, for the first time, violet sees jay as more than just her partner in crime. she can't help but want more from him, though she is too scared to admit this to jay, or her other friends. now, to the reader it is GLARINGLY obvious jay wants to date violet, but still violet goes through her inner monologue of "does he? or doesn't he?" which for me got old quickly.
now, i'm sure there are a ton of readers out there who love to know all the details of every encounter. they want to know every time jay's hand brushes against violet's how her heart begins to beat faster, and how her temperature rises, or how she's positive her cheeks are flushed, yadda, yadda, yadda.
obviously, i am not one of those readers.

the "tension" between violet and jay felt so drawn out to me that i was skimming the pages to get to the "body finding" part of the story. and when the author did bring us back on track to where violet discovers a girl who'd been killed by a serial murderer, well, it still fell flat for me.

at page 40 i knew violet would find more than one victim of the killer, the killer would realize violet is responsible for his victims being unearthed, the killer would come after violet, and violet would realize it's the killer because of the imprint he carries on him. and i didn't mind that i knew this in advance (i think most people would be able to figure it out) because the premise was so good i was sure i would enjoy seeing how everything unfolded. but i didn't. though i do have to give the author credit for an interesting twist (which i won't reveal here).

i REALLY wanted this book to be good, but it didn't live up to the promise of the opening pages. in fact, i felt the book was about seventy pages too long (due to the redundancies of violet's inner monologues). obviously i am in the minority. it appears to be pretty popular, and clearly enough people believed in the author's writing ability since it did get published. i'm curious to see how kimberly derting's follow up book will be.


Christine Fletcher said...

I think I'm like you...I have very little patience for inner monologues, unless they're interesting. To me, repetitive angst ("does he or doesn't he") isn't interesting. Like everything else in the book, inner dialogues have to move the story forward.

Still, it's really hard as a writer to judge when enough is enough. That's when you need a good tough critique partner or editor to point it out.

The premise does sound good. This is one I'll probably check out from the library. Great review!

mi said...

christine - i'd love to hear your take on the novel once you've read it.
i've been reading books with quite a different eye, since i'm smack in the middle of working on my own novel. i'm hyper aware of pacing, development, etc.
now i'm off to edit my post and turn those "inner dialogues" to "inner monologues"!