July 2, 2015

Shelley Liked It: The Body in the Woods by April Henry

Series: Point Last Seen 1
Format: E-Book | 263 pages
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt and CO. (BYR)
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

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.

The Body in the Woods is full of riveting suspense, putting readers right in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.

THE BODY IN THE WOODS is the first installment in April Henry's Point Last Seen series. This story features three Sixteen-years olds in Alexis Frost, Nick Walker, and Ruby McClure who couldn't be any different even if they tried. Different social backgrounds, different reasons for being a part of the Portland's Search and Rescue team, different struggles with life itself, and yes, there is diversity among the characters in case anyone is wondering, as well as a possible love interest for one of the characters.

The story starts out innocent enough when a autistic man goes missing, and there is a frantic search for his whereabouts by the Search and Rescue teams. As it so happens, fate intervenes and Alexis, Nick, and Ruby discover a girls body in the woods which pretty much stokes Ruby's curiosity to the point where they are trying to discover who the killer was and why this killer is choosing the girls he does. This discovery sets off a series of events that will lead the duo into doing silly things, thanks to Ruby's determination that not everything is square when it comes to who killed the mystery girl.

I feel that I must break down the individual characters since it is important to understand where each of them comes from. Alexis is probably the character that I could connect to the most because of her individual struggles with trying to deal with a mother who is bi-polar, and sometimes refuses to take her meds, and wonders off indiscriminately. She struggles to survive while living off a disability check and food stamps. She doesn't really have any friends, per se, and yet finds herself eager to become a part of the S&R because it will give her a future she can look forward to.

Nick struggles with coping with his father's act of heroism that led to his death in Iraq when Nick was four. Nick's reasoning for being a member of the S&R team is probably more altruistic in nature than his teammates. He believes his father would have wanted him to be so much more, and thus he does silly things in hopes that his father would be proud to see him step away from his limitations. Nick is also the character that I struggled with because he just made so many stupid blunders, and annoyed me at most times, including running off on his own without any support.

Ruby is the token rich girl of the group. She gets anything she wants, and yet she wants to become a member of the S&R team. She is the CSI girl everyone wants to choke because her theories are sometimes so eyerolling ridiculous, that they actually put people in harms way. I will give Ruby a lot of credit however. Even though she apparently has supportive parents, which Nick and Alexis don't really have, she is determined to break through to both Nick and Alexis and make them part of her inner circle. She's smarter than a whip as well, and that goes a long way in making the lead detective on the case squirm.

Since this is the first novel in the series, I am giving THE BODY IN THE WOODS a little break. I have read several of Henry's novels, and have found out that she is an unusual writer who tries to lay things out for readers so that they aren't shocked when the revelation comes forward. This story is also told in the Third POV between the three lead characters, as well as the killer himself, which gives readers an look into the sick and twisted mind of a serial killer. I had no problem reading this novel since it was fast paced, and the villain was introduced early enough in the story that you know who he is, and why he is doing what he is doing.

I will look into reading the next installment called Blood Will Tell if for nothing else than to see if the characters grow any from this story. I also look forward to Alexis maybe getting a break in her life so she can perhaps have more than a friendship with a secondary character who is introduced early in the story, and then appears several times afterwards.


For Alexis Frost, Nick Walker, and Ruby McClure, it all started with a phone call and two texts. It ended with fear and courage, love and loathing, screaming and blood. Lots of blood. * * * When the classroom phone rang in American history, Alexis Frost straightened up and blinked, trying to will herself awake as the teacher answered it. She managed to yawn without opening her mouth, the cords stretching tight in her neck. Last night had been another hard one. "Alexis?" Mrs. Fairchild turned toward her. "Yes?" Her heart sped up. What was it this time? The possibilities were endless. None of them good. "Could you come up here, please?" Mrs. Fairchild was looking at Alexis as if she was seeing her in a new light. Had it finally happened, then, the thing she both feared and longed for? Had something happened to her mother? * * *

Nick Walker's thumbs were poised over the virtual keyboard of the phone he held on his lap. He was pretending to listen to Mr. Dill, his English teacher, while he was really texting Sasha Madigan, trying this angle and that to persuade her to study with him tonight. Which he hoped would mean lots of copying (on his part) and lots of kissing (on both their parts). The phone vibrated in his hand. Mr. Dill was busy writing on the board, so Nick lifted it a little closer to his face. It wasn't a reply from Sasha but a message from his Portland Search and Rescue team leader. 

Search in Forest Park. Missing man. Meet time 1500. His first SAR call-out! He jumped to his feet. "Nick?" Mr. Dill turned and looked at him over the top of his glasses. "What is it?" Mr. Dill had a lot of rules. He had already complained about Nick's habit of drawing—only Mr. Dill called it doodling—in class. Nick held up his phone while pointing at it with his other hand as if he had been hired to demonstrate it. "I'm with Portland Search and Rescue, and we've been mobilized to find a man missing in Forest Park. I have to leave now." "Um, okay," Mr. Dill said uncertainly. Someone in Wilson High's administration had had to sign off on Nick being allowed to join searches during the school day, but maybe the information hadn't filtered down to his teachers. No matter. Nick was already out the door. He just hoped someone from class would tell Sasha. A text wouldn't do it justice. Nick Walker, called out on a lifesaving mission. 

* * * Ruby McClure felt her phone buzz in her jeans pocket. She waited until the end of chemistry to check it. Fifteen hundred made so much more sense than three P.M. Ruby preferred military time. No questions about whether "nine" meant morning or night. No having to rely on context. No one getting hung up on whether 1200 had an A.M. or a P.M. after it, which was a ridiculous idea because A.M. meant "ante meridiem" and P.M. meant "post meridiem" and meridiem was Latin for "midday," and twelve noon was midday itself. It was 1357 now. Which meant she had an hour to get home, change into hiking clothes, pick up her SAR backpack, and meet the rest of the team at the Portland sheriff's office. Piece of cake. Ruby pulled out the keys to her car as she walked to the office to sign herself out. On the way, her phone buzzed again. It was Nick, asking for a ride. 

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  1. Nice and somewhat creepy cover :)

  2. I'm intrigued by having the killers POV added in the mix. Great review :)

  3. I'm not going to lie, I hate it when there is a "token" character. Stereotypes just drive me nuts. However, I LOVE when a thriller/suspense novel includes the killers POV in the mix. It's interesting seeing how they tick and the reasoning behind what they're doing.

  4. I read this last year and thought it was an okay read. I didn't love it or hate it, just middle of the road.

  5. Sounds very interesting. It always is when you get to peek inside the murderer's head :)

  6. Oh I feel like I've bought this book a long time ago! I'm glad that you're still interested in the next book despite your problems with this one.

  7. well good but not awesome, as you told you would read book 2, I hope it will get a bit better. I would be curious about that.

  8. Hmmm..I like the idea but am not sure about this one...

  9. Well, even if it didn't wow you it still seems entertaining enough. I hope that it gets better for you when you continue the series.

  10. The blurb intrigues me and I'm a sucker for mysteries so I will definitely give this book a shot and I will read it with an open mind knowing that although you liked this book, you didn't really love it but it's still the first book in the series so characters can indeed still develop. I like how we get the POV of the serial killer too and that we know who it is and the characters doesn't. Great review Sheller! - Amir

  11. Hmm. This sounds interesting. Sounds like it's missing a little spark though. Maybe because it's the first book and like you said, she's laying out things for everyone. Thank you. :)

  12. I liked one of Henry’s earlier books, so I’ll definitely be giving this one a try. Sad to see that there were some problems, but glad you liked it for a first book in a series! Great review :)


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