Tags: Desires of the Dead, Kimberly Derting, The Body Finder, The Pledge
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New YA author Kimberly Derting last month released DESIRES OF THE DEAD, her second book in THE BODY FINDER series about 17-year-old Violet Ambrose, who can hear the echoes of the dead. Kimberly has about 100 pages to write by April 1 for her third installment in the series (she’s yet to name the book), but she’s already got a new series that debuts Nov. 15: THE PLEDGE. (Check out our interview with her on Last Bite Podcast with my pal Maria! It should post in another day but CLICK HERE for the link!)
Here’s a description of THE PLEDGE from Kimberly’s website:
In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It’s there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she’s never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.
Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.
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Tags: Jay, Kimberly Derting, The Body Finder, Violet
Violet Ambrose hears dead people. The 16-year-old inherited the ability to sense the “echoes” the dead leave behind — the dead who have been murdered — from her grandmother. When a serial killer comes to town and starts murdering teen-age girls, Violet steps in to track the killer, who retains the imprints of these echoes.
Pretty heavy for a teen, eh? But author Kimberly Derting, in her debut novel THE BODY FINDER, manages to weave the suspenseful and at times disturbing story of a serial killer together with the life of a teen-age girl who is struggling with all of that other awkward stuff like snotty high school seniors, the guy you don’t want to date — and the guy you wish you were dating — to make this YA story a fast and interesting read.
Derting is really telling two stories here, and at first that’s a bit confusing. There’s the story about Violet being able to hear the echoes from the dead and track the serial killer. But a second storyline focuses on Violet and her best friend, Jay Heaton, who seems to have suddenly gotten more handsome and charismatic over the summer, leaving Violet confused about their relationship. It’s obvious to everyone around them — and those reading the book — that they will wind up together. OK — maybe it’s not so obvious to some of the characters in the book who compete for the teens’ affections. But it’s kind of charming if you’re in one of those moods where you want to relive those angst-ridden “does he love me or love me not” days.
The really intriguing part of the story: The echoes Violet hears. The dead who were murdered call out to her. Not just human dead. As a little girl, she’d find small animals that had been killed. Sometimes by her own cat. The echoes dim once the dead have been properly buried and the unnatural death somehow resolved.
Walking through a cemetery, the sounds reach out to her. She hears the “echo” — sounds of fireworks popping — of Edith Bernhard, who died at age 65. What happened to her? She didn’t die a natural death. A man who died in his early 30s has an echo that smells like strong coffee. He died more than 40 years ago but still calls out.
Even more interesting is that these echoes aren’t just one way. A murderer — or even someone like a police officer who has killed in the line of duty — retains the echo of his/her victim. So Violet can sense a killer based on that imprint. That’s how she tracks down the murdered girls’ hidden bodies and their killer. (Yup — she even senses the imprints on her cat!)
Her family knows about her ability — as does her uncle, who is the chief of police in her hometown. And her buddy Jay — who can be way overprotective and overbearing as guys go — knows, too. But Violet is a teen with her own mind and does her own thing — so she’s not some helpless heroine.
The ending — which I won’t give away — is a little predictable. The serial killer conclusion is wrapped up in a way that leaves you feeling rushed after the insights that Derting gives us throughout the novel by alternating chapters with the killer’s thoughts and building suspense. But I liked this novel because Derting kept my attention. She didn’t go overboard with descriptions or emotions. And the whole concept of the echoes was compelling. I’m also curious how this new YA author will develop the echoes idea and characters in the next book of this series, DESIRES OF THE DEAD, due out next March.
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