Review of The Body in the Woods by April Henry

The Body in the Woods (Point Last Seen, #1)The Body in the Woods
By: April Henry
Release Date: June 17th 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Source: ARC

A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

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.

The Story:
The Body in the Woods was overall a fun, fast and easy read. It was interesting enough to keep me reading though the mystery side of it wasn’t as difficult to figure out as I would have liked. Henry’s writing style was absorbing and kept me flipping the pages but I almost think this would have worked better as a middle grade book.

Where this story did stand out was the amount of research the author put into writing about Search and Rescue. I loved seeing the way the team worked together and I felt that the descriptions of their work to be the most interesting parts of the book. I’ve not read a novel that ventured so deeply into SAR so this was a welcomed aspect.

The police investigation and detective work were not done nearly as well. I was distracted by the detective assigned to the case and his lack of skill in his work. I can’t imagine, or would rather not imagine, that a seasoned detective would be incapable of coming across some basic and easy to see clues. I felt that the case he built about his suspect was feeble and detracted from the story. The idea that the three teenager leads would be more inclined to see the obvious bothered me and took some of the credibility from the story.

The Characters:
I never was able to really connect to any of the characters though Ruby was the most interesting. I enjoyed her awkward nature and her interest in murders, birds and detective work. It was always alluded that she was not a ‘normal’ teen though no diagnosis was ever given. Since the story jumped around from all the characters point of view you were given little highlight about their lives. I enjoyed the sections with Ruby the most.

The other characters always felt two dimensional to me though there were details given about their lives. Alexis, our other female lead,  deals with some serious issues within the story. Even with a parent suffering from mental illness I never was able to really feel for Alexis. Her relationship with her trauma counselor felt barely there and honestly, I think more time could have been given to each of the characters.

Nick, the male lead, was the least acknowledged to me. Though he played an important role in the plot development I never felt all that sure of his personality. If the sequels deal with these same characters I imagine we’ll learn more about each of them as it goes on.

Henry also wrote from the killer’s point of view. I’m never sure how I feel about that to be honest. In this book I felt that it didn’t add all that much and could have done without it. I felt that because we saw the clues in his sections it made the mystery part a lot easier to see coming.

Final Thoughts:
Though The Body in the Woods was an entertaining read nothing really stood out about the plot or characters. For a quick, fun, summer read I’d say this was a good read but don’t expect to feel terrified for the characters or become overly invested in their personal stories.


  1. says

    A mystery that doesn’t keep us guessing is not something I’d be too interested in, truth be told. And you’ve also mentioned that the police work of the detective was too bad to be plausible, second review to say it… that would bother me loads!
    I think I’m gonna be avoiding this one…
    Thanks for the great and honest review as always, Kristen!

  2. says

    This is the second review I’ve read that said this book felt MG. x) I wonder why it’s YA….hehe. Oh but incompetent adults or professionals REALLY bugs me! It’s hard to get into those sorts of careers, so it’s not very logical that people would suck at them for the sake of getting a few teens to do the legwork now is it? More like a plot device. But ah, well. I DO love the cover on this! It’s kind of mesmerising.

    • says

      It was still a fast and fun read–a good summer read imo. I breezed through it and don’t regret reading it at all. If the summary appeals I’d read it.

  3. says

    I read about half of this book before I DNFd, although I did skim the ending. I felt the same way as you, Kristen, it was an interesting concept and I liked some parts of it, but overall it didn’t really grab me. Like you said, the characters weren’t terribly complicated, and the mystery is pretty easy to guess. YA thrillers are often hard for me, though, so sometimes I don’t think I’m a fair judge of them. But then again, sometimes they can be really well done, too. Just like adult thrillers, I guess! 🙂

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    • says

      This one felt like candy to me. I found it easy to read and fast paced but I never connected. I’ve only started reading YA thrillers and they seem to utilize a common pattern. I prefer the adult ones so far.

  4. says

    Great review Kristen 😀 I’m glad you enjoyed this book; despite not loving it. <3 And yay for it being a fast and fun read. I'm hoping to read it soonish 🙂

  5. says

    I’m sorry this didn’t turn out as well as you would have liked. The whole detective thing with not being able to notice the simple things kind of wards me off. I mean, I like YA and all, but not really when the adults in the story are undermined as much as that. I don’t know… I’m on the fence for this one. But thanks for your honest review!

    • says

      Yeah, the adults didn’t feel well done to me. I guess it is plausible that a detective would be that bad at his job but seems unlikely that he’d take the word of teens. Plus, eye-witness accounts are known to be so unreliable. I had trouble believing a lot of the story.

  6. says

    Ugh I love mysteries, like whoa, which means I have read my share of them and I’m hard to please. I doubt this one would fare very well with me. The whole unbelievable detective work would def. get under my skin. I’m very picky about things liek this being realistic and with obvious research done you know. I find I need to go into adult when I want a really great mystery novel. Anyways, I haven’t been seeing the best reviews of this one overall. At least it was entertaining while it lasted >.<

    • says

      I’ve just started reading mystery novels and I find I really enjoy them (even the not as well done ones). They seem to be so fast paced and fun. With you reading so many this would probably annoy you with the detective work. I did really love the search and rescue elements. I’ve not read anything highlighting their work so that was a huge plus for me.

  7. says

    I am not a die hard fan of mystery books but I had my experiences with them and they sure did leave wide eyed and excited, but mysteries with predictable sense uhh I don’t think so. I’m not really one to talk about what’s a good mystery book and what’s not but I think if it keeps you guessing and surprised with the outcome I guess that defines a good mystery book. I’m almost glad I didn’t got this book. At least this was still a good and fun read. Great review Kristen. 🙂

    Ella @ The Filipina Booknote

    • says

      I’ve not read a lot of them either but this one seemed pretty typical 🙁 The writing was easy to read and it was overall a lot of fun.

  8. says

    Awh, shame. I was really looking forward to it, because I love murder mysteries. But, I’d really hate that it’s predictable, and I like figuring it out for myself, so it being obvious, ugh. Would ruin my fun. Glad one thing was researched right, but yeah, the police and detective side seems poor. 🙁 Do love that there’s a perspective from the killer, shame that that’s what also made it easier to figure out. The killer’s perspective is what I loved in The Naturals. 🙁 Disappointed now, but at least it’s a quick fun one, so still want to read it. 🙂

    • says

      You should read it! Don’t let my review sway you because I don’t regret reading it at all. it was fun and not so predictable that it really made it a bad read. The detective work was my biggest pet peeve…that and having a hard time connecting to the characters on a deep level. I really enjoyed The Naturals!

  9. says

    I still haven’t finished this and I’m toying with not coming back to it… So far I just can’t get into it which is unusual for me & mysteries! I’m just not really interested in any of the characters much at all and the plot is not gripping either. I think the descriptions of everything is SO technical and it’s turning me off too. Hmmm. Will have to think about it.

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