Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"Desires of the Dead," by Kimberly Derting

Follow-up to “The Body Finder,” this second offering by Kimberly Derting finds Violet still afraid to let anyone in on her secret: she can sense dead bodies, animal and human. These bodies call to her in various ways—smells, sounds, flashes of light—and can wreak havoc on her senses. Only when the body is found and given a proper burial can Violet find peace from the calling. These imprints, as she calls them, even remain with the person who has done the killing. This was what got her in trouble in the first book.

This time around, Violet anonymously calls in a tip for authorities to locate a body and finds herself under the watchful eye of an FBI consultant, Sarah Priest. She avoids contact with the woman as much as possible, pretending not to know anything about having a special gift. But Sarah Priest has a secret, too, that has to do with a cute, intense boy named Rafe.

Meanwhile, Violet is navigating new territory with best friend and new boyfriend Jay. And someone else is very unhappy with their relationship, someone willing to try to scare Violet away from Jay.

It’s been a while since I read “The Body Finder,” but I recall enjoying it a lot. Though I did like “Desires of the Dead,” I found myself getting annoyed by Violet. She came off controlling at times, even emasculating boyfriend Jay. Whenever their “homework” sessions (i.e. making out) got too serious and Jay pulled back, Violet would taunt him with “you’re such a girl” or make comments about he was the girl and she was the guy. It was like because Violet is female, she can get away with putting pressure on her boyfriend for sex. Not just that, but calling him names at times. I’m sure the author thought this was harmless, something to add levity to serious situations, but it put me off the character immensely.

However, Violet wasn’t consistently acting like this, so it didn’t pull me away from the story completely. I still enjoyed the book and would read the next Body Finder novel. I just hope the author takes into consideration the message she’s sending via her character. Strong female voices are important, especially in young adult fiction, and Derting has an opportunity and a responsibility to present the kind of heroine to which other young women can aspire.

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