Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Body Finder


Book Title: The Body Finder
Author: Kimberley Derting
Series: The Body Finder #1
Date Started: May 28th 2015
Date Completed: May 31st 2015
Genres: Romance, Contemporary
Quality Rating: Three Stars
Enjoyment Rating: Two Stars
Final Rating: Two stars

What drew me to this book was the supernatural premise: an ability to sense the dead pulled into a murder mystery. But the perspective of the story ended up being so closed-minded that Violet's 'echoes' didn't add up to anything and the high school love was self-indulgent to the point of destroying the plot. I definitely think the wrong things were focused on in this novel.

I'm not annoyed by this book than disappointed because it really did have the potential to be good - and Derting had the talent to make it so. The prologue was hauntingly beautiful and engagingly written. You can tell that there's skill in the author's ability, and you can tell that there's the chance for the supernatural aspects to be made incredibly important and tense. But instead we get monopolised attention on a relationship that's theoretically 'perfect' but not really healthy.
And from this we're directed towards typical high school atmospheres with bland conversation and quite often cliche descriptions. Even the killer's perspective was conventional and could've easily been made more threatening by just adding some personality to the voice.

While the story itself was ruined from the focus on the romance, the lack of a mystery or supernatural or even tense atmosphere didn't help. It definitely didn't seem like Violet had been able to sense the dead since before she could remember: she had the perfect life, and everyone adored her - maybe I'm wrong but I would imagine being drawn to death would take its toll on a person. But instead she has a close best friends, loads of other friends beyond that (despite the fact she seems to spend every waking minute with Jay), a perfect loving family, no emotional or money troubles, is good at school, and has boys falling all over her. There was no sense that she was at all disadvantaged, and the fact that her 'echoes' weren't even included that much in the story exaggerated how little I was able to feel for her.
In fact the 'echoes' themselves don't really add anything to the story - she might as well have stumbled upon those corpses by accident and came up with the same result. Beyond that she only really kicks the cat out of the house, is wary of policeman and gets to be 'the chosen one'. (The ability to sense the dead is so convenient it almost brings up more problems than it solves - has she never been the a cemetery, where surely it would've been overwhelming? And if she can't it from her own cat she's had for years, then what about the scenes in the forest or the lake where she'd be surrounded by dead animals and live one that had killed to eat? Even a small mention of an everlasting presence of death would've made this more believable.)
The plot line itself was painfully predictable, and the melodramatic (and actually quite selfish) relationship just got on my nerves. There was no sense of danger because the romance just dominated everything. There wasn't even a mysterious element thrown in because everything Violet discovered was by coincidence, and the reader is prevented from trying to have any part in solving the crime because nothing's connected. The whole point of engagement in mysteries is that the audience can feel some sort of involvement in what's going on. So, unavoidably, the ending was extremely disappointing: it didn't feel like Derting was trying to be clever and surprise her readers, or even make logical sense.

It's pretty hard to get on with a book when you don't like the only two characters that consistently show up in the whole thing.
Violet annoyed me mostly because of her basic uselessness in the story: I don't think she was bad as a person, but her supernatural ability didn't change anything and it seemed like the only other thing she did was pine after Jay. And again, though I'm really a not a fan of romance-orientated books, if this had been an important sideline to what the book is sold as (a supernatural murder mystery) I could've gone along with it - but her impact on the book was very little considering everyone viewed her as the most amazing, talented person in the world.
I'm all up for self-indulgent protective boys every and now and then to add a little drama into a story, but Jay took this to frankly a stupid level. Not only did their back and forth predictable conflict take away from what should have been the main plot, but it forced Violet into a position where she couldn't have been clever or independent if she'd tried. Everyone wants a partner who will protect them, but nobody should want someone who stops them from showing they can stand on their own two feet.

The Body Finder's prologue was brilliant; it clearly establishes the supernatural side of the story in a really interesting way, and definitely makes me think that it was intended to be a lot more important than it ended up being. And things fell apart pretty quickly from there onwards.
It's not many books that I seriously consider giving up on, but even around a quarter of the way through this I just couldn't find anything that didn't infuriate me, let alone interest me. But, because of the simple writing and the short length of the book I ended up skimming through the majority pretty speedily. What's pretty worrying is even barely paying attention, I still absorbed the story and what was going on - at least if I'd been a bit lost while skim-reading it would imply there wasn't something there that I had to think about to process.

I don't think The Body Finder should really be sold as a supernatural mystery, because it's basically just a contemporary which happens to have murders and an ability to sense the dead - those aspects as in the end so irrelevant that most of the time I forgot they were even there. But if you like reading contemporary romances then this is probably much better suited to you.

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