The Body in the Woods, April Henry (Point Last Seen #1)
Published June 17th 2014 by Macmillan Children’s
Reviewed by Amanda
In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.
Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.
Thanks to Air Canada I read this book in about 2 hours sitting at the gate waiting for a flight last week. This is definitely a fast read!
Alexis, Nick and Ruby are all in training for Portland Search and Rescue and conveniently end up on their first search together without an experienced team member. Alexis stumbles upon a body, Ruby announces its murder, and Nick – well Nick wants to be a hero but runs away in fear when they think the murderer may be coming back. I liked that the perspective kept changing throughout for a different interpretation of the facts. I also really like when we get a point of view from a mystery criminal. They sometimes are a little cheesy, but always successfully creep me out.
Alexis, Nick & Ruby make an unlikely team (starting with the fact that they’re high schoolers doing Search & Rescue), but they do balance each other as they became closer. Ruby particularly needs humanizing from the others. I assumed based on her disconnectedness from others and her need to play a role with everyone that she is supposed to be on the Asperger’s/Autism spectrum somewhere. This made for an interesting character. Not necessarily a likeable character, but different. Nick is trying to live up to his idealized image of his deceased father. I think as the series continues Nick has the best opportunities to grow as a character. Alexis was probably my favorite of the trio, though she became a bit overbearing with her “no one can get close to me and learn my secrets” complex. In the end, Alexis seemed like a different character entirely. Yes, growth and change happen throughout a book but that was too fast for me to be believable. Its frustrating to me when a character seems to behave at total odds with the way they’ve been portrayed 90% of the book.
This was a book that felt like a book written for a Young Adult audience, rather than a just a book that would also work for young adults. I think you can have a great YA mystery without writing too simplistic a book but this was not that mystery. I have no problem with suspending disbelief when I read, but I had to do that a bit too much with A Body In the Woods to really enjoy the book. Maybe middle graders would enjoy it much more than I did.
Thank you MacMillan Children’s and NetGalley for this advanced read copy in exchange for an honest opinion.
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