Violet is a teenager who can sense the dead who have been murdered. They give off a kind of call‐ a sound or an image or a scent, like the smell of bubblegum or visual sparkles or the sound of a wind chime. Generally, this means that Violet is constantly finding dead mice her cat’s killed. And she knows it’s her cat, because the cat will have the same call, after he’s killed something.
Violet spends most of her time trying to act normal. The only people who know about her talent are her close family and her best friend, Jay. But when she accidentally stumbles across the body of a murdered girl, life gets a little more complicated, since Violet seems to be the only person with any kind of grasp on who the killer might be.
By the time I started reading the Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting, I’d read a TON of teen creature novels. This boy is a ghost, and this girl attracts fairies, and this boy is really a werewolf‐vegan‐with‐split‐personalities who loves this girl who’s actually an angel‐demon‐half‐thing. And it just seems like authors were really trying to go as far out as they could to find the next interesting, weird, catchy paranormal theme that could be smooshed into a book, with a love story, and read by a million teen readers.
So I didn’t go into the first book in the series expecting much. But Violet and her talent never feel forced. The plot and what Violet can do never feel contrived. In fact, I thought it was a super neat concept. And it made sense to me, in how it worked, as far as Violet knew. Even better, Violet is fully aware of her talent, although it’s never brought her so much trouble. The book doesn’t follow that standard plot of discovery, either self‐ or the discovery of secrets about the love interest. Jay knows about Violet too, so all that annoying stuff which is, sometimes, done very well but generally not, is already out of the way.
The plot is pretty awesome, too. It’s neat and tight, it makes sense, but it’s never predictable. It’s super suspenseful, and it can be pretty creepy. I don’t generally like reading these books at night, to be honest. But I’m kind of a wimp. That suspense element is nicely balanced by the time Violet spends with her family and friends, and the time she spends contemplating her new romance with Jay.
The characters are great, too. Jay and the rest of Violet’s friends all feel very alive and real. And I love Violet. She’s balanced, both tough but also a typical teenage girl who sometimes needs more help than she’s willing to ask for. Amidst all the other million teenage girl characters I’ve read, Violet stands out a lot.
Oh, oh, and I almost forgot‐ I love how this series never talks down to its intended readers. I mean, it’s obvious that Jay and Violet are definitely teenagers, and definitely still need their parentsR#8217; help, but it’s also really nice to see that they’re actual human beings who are, you know, capable of making their own relatively mature decisions. Kimberly Derting treats these characters like they’re real, intelligent people. She lets them make adult choices, and if they don’t make the best choices every time, they take responsibility. It’s just nice to see an author treat her teenage characters as she would adults‐ as people‐ and it’s really nice to see her stay away from lesson‐teaching and speaking‐down, which I find is weirdly common in teen books. (Some teen books. This, luckily, seems to be a trend that’s fading.)
Right now, there are four books in the series‐ ‘The Body Finder,’ ‘Desires of the Dead,’ ‘The Last Echo’ and ‘Dead Silence.’ And they’re all great. You probably do want to read them in order, although you don’t need to reread all the other books in the series each time a new one comes out, which is super nice. Of course, they do stand up to rereading, though, so…