The Body in the Woods by April Henry | Mini Book Review

August 27, 2014 Book Review, Young Adult 5

The Body in the Woods by April Henry | Mini Book ReviewThe Body in the Woods by April Henry
Series: Point Last Seen #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 17, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 263
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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1 Stars
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.

This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series is full of riveting suspense, putting readers in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.

*sigh* Maybe April Henry and I just aren’t the best match? I don’t know! I love mysteries. LOVE them. They are all I’ve been wanting to read lately. And sadly, The Body in the Woods did nothing for me. I thought the idea had potential, but I was also worried that reading about teenage detectives would cause the “you-have-to-suspend-a-lot-of-logic” disease. It did. I felt that the entire story was improbable, and that made me focus less on the story and more on the details that made me go, “Ummm… No, that would never happen.” And I know that this book was inspired by a real teen volunteer search and rescue team, but still. I felt like the kids in this book got into way too much danger, went against the police officers they were working with way too often, and basically took over the entire investigation. I can’t imagine real life teenagers getting into the kinds of situations the teens in this book did.

At times I felt like I was reading an episode of CSI or any other crime drama on TV. I drowned in the endless details of how the characters performed searches, etc. I usually love detail, but the writing was so uninteresting and almost mechanical. There was no fluidity from sentence to sentence, and frequently there wasn’t even continuity between chapters. I liked the idea of the story being told from multiple perspectives (those of the three teens), but they were written in such a way that I never connected with the characters. When they spoke to each other or to officers, they spoke in a way that made them sound like they had memorized their training manuals and were just regurgitating information in the hopes that they were right. This made them come off as immature, leaving me to believe even LESS in their abilities as members of a search and rescue team.

The mystery seemed very thinly weaved. I knew who the culprit was almost immediately. His chapters were the most interesting, and I wished I had been more in his head than in the heads of our manual-reciting teenagers. The why’s were not given much attention, and I was never entirely clear on the motives of the culprit. I found it odd that the mystery would not have been solved if these kids had not been involved, yet they caused so many additional problems for the police that they seemed useless at times. Are the police really supposed to be that dumb? They arrested someone early on in the story with no actual evidence, and then closed the case. They had nothing on him except that he was making drugs. Drugs does not equal serial killer. When I think of all the times I’ve heard of the bad guy getting away on a technicality or a screw-up regarding the handling of evidence, I have NO idea why this guy was arrested at all. I just did not believe it.

Maybe I am just too old and skeptical to enjoy this book. Maybe I possess too much common sense, have read too many intricate and nail-biting mysteries, or have watched way too many crime dramas. Perhaps a younger audience would love this. Perhaps someone capable of suspending their disbelief would enjoy it as well. I just could not stop thinking how unbelievable this story was, not to mention the endless technical details and play-by-plays had my gasping for air. I felt completely disconnected from the story, and I’m super disappointed about that. I would not recommend this title to potential readers.

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5 Responses to “The Body in the Woods by April Henry | Mini Book Review”

  1. CeCe

    What a bummer. I hate when books have serious hole in the stories. I nit pick over when things seem realistic (even in paranormal books, I need some semblance of realism), this one seems to have missed that mark. I haven’t read a ton of mystery in the past. What are some of your favorites?

    • Jana

      CeCe, I completely agree that all books, no matter their genre, need some semblance of realism. This book definitely did not, which was super disappointing for me.

      As for mystery recommendations, I really loved Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas. I also loved Don’t Look Back by Jennifer Armentrout. And if you’re willing to leave YA, Mary Higgins-Clark’s earlier works are very good. She’s slipped in the last five years or so, as she is in her 80’s. But Pretend You Don’t See Her will always be my favorite of her mysteries. :)

    • Jana

      Yes, I was a little worried when I started seeing bad reviews rolling in. That’s why it took me so long to read this! Sadly, I could not disprove those reviews and ended up adding mine to the pile instead. There’s always the chance you will disagree with me! I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts if you choose to read it, though.

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