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.Hardcover, 263 pagesExpected publication: June 17th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Source: Publisher in Exchange for an honest review.
Three and a half stars: A quick, entertaining mystery appropriate for all teens.
Nick bolts out of his classroom in response to the text he receives on his phone. Nick is part of the Portland Search and Rescue Team, and he has been alerted that a search is on. At Forest Park, Nick meets up with fellow teammates, Alexis and Ruby. This is their first mission, and they are assigned to help find a thirty four year old autistic man lost in the park. Since the trio is new, they are assigned to an area where the man will not likely be found, but they are still eager to complete their mission. Ruby keeps her eyes peeled for any clues, and when she sees some downtrodden ferns, she moves in for a closer look. Ruby is horrified to discover a dead body. Ruby is a crime buff and she is enthusiastic to help the police solve the crime, but when the detective doesn't take her seriously, Ruby decides to do some investigating of her own. Will Ruby, Alexis and Nick catch a killer?
What I Liked:
- The Body in the Woods is a quick, entertaining mystery appropriate for teens of all ages. I appreciated that this was a fast read, and that there was plenty of mystery and suspense. This follows three unlikely friends as they try and help catch a killer. If you are looking for a mystery for your teen reader this is a good pick.
- I liked that this book called attention to some important and troubling topics such as teen homelessness and mental illness. The killer begins targeting homeless teen girls on the street so the author takes you to the streets. I was sad to learn about the plight of homeless teens right here in my home town. It was eye opening and disturbing. Another story line follows Alexis' mother who is suffering from bipolar disorder. During the story, she is off her medications and acting erratic. When she disappears, Alexis must try and find her amongst the homeless, knowing full well the danger she faces. Even though the topic is troubling, it was educational. I appreciate the author calling attention to these important topics.
- I liked that the three main characters, Alexis, Ruby and Nick are involved with the Portland Search and Rescue Team. I had no idea that teenagers volunteer their time make up a large portion of this important team. These teens and other volunteers are the first responders who go out and search in all kinds of conditions for lost folks. They also help search for clues during and investigation. This is difficult and painstaking work, often in nasty weather. It was interesting to learn more about this valuable team.
- The murder mystery was suspenseful and interesting and entertaining. There were plenty of clues and leads, until the killer was revealed. I changed my mind several times on who the perpetrator was, and in the end I was a bit surprised at the final reveal. *This book incorporates four different view points. You get Nick, Alexis, Ruby and the killer's narration. I liked how unique each of the three teens was. Nick is of biracial, and he is always trying to find a way to live up to his deceased father's bravery. Alexis is constantly forced to hide her troubled home life. Her mother is mentally ill and erratic. Alexis doesn't know from one day to the next how her mother will behave. My heart went out to Alexis. Ruby comes from a well to do family. She is extremely intelligent and precocious, but she is socially awkward and doesn't know how to fit in. She is a crime junkie and spends hours watching crime shows. Finally, the killer's narrative is disturbing and chilling. What makes him tick? How does he choose his victims? Read and find out!
- The ending wraps up the main mystery neatly without any dangling questions, but the author leaves plenty of the story lines regarding the characters open for development. This is the first in a series and I would be interested to follow up on these characters.
- I appreciated that the author doesn't include anything inappropriate for teen readers. The murder scenes are a bit disturbing, but they are not gory. The violence is minimal, so you needn't worry about young teens reading this one.
- Finally, I loved that this was set in my home town of Portland, Oregon. I liked reading more about some of the sites in my city as well as learning more about the plight of the homeless.
And The Not So Much:
- Even though I liked that this was fast paced, I felt like the short length didn't allow the author to develop the characters and story lines fully. I had a good gage on Ruby and Alexis, but Nick wasn't as developed. I knew very little about his home life and so forth. I was fascinated by Alexis and her mother, but this storyline was just beginning to unfold. I was anxious to see what would happen with the mother. Alexis meets up with a hispanic homeless girl while looking for her mother, and then she is upset when she can't locate the girl again. What happened to Raina? It just felt like there was a lot more story to tell, and granted this is the first book of a series so I am sure many of these story lines will be explored in further books.
- The romance was weak and quick. At the end, there is the beginning of a romance, which I felt was a bit out of place and that it came out of nowhere. I didn't think it should have been introduced at the end of the book like it was. It didn't feel realistic. I am hopeful that the author will do a better job of developing the romance in the next book.
- The whole scenario of three teens helping to investigate a murder is a bit unrealistic, but it is best just to go with it. This is a book meant to entertain so in order to enjoy it, you must suspend a bit of rational belief.
- I wished that the author had included some resource information for teens to follow up on if they are interested in joining their local search and rescue team or if they want to help with homelessness in their area.
The Body in the Woods is a fast paced, entertaining murder mystery appropriate for teens. I liked that this book also explored teen homelessness and mental illness. I enjoyed the three different voices and I appreciated that the mystery wrapped up neatly by the end. If you are looking for an exciting, quick mystery for summer, this is a great pick.
Favorite Quotations: "The best place to be crazy in Portland was downtown."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.