Book Review: The Body in the Woods by April Henry

The Body in the Woods
Screen shot 2014-05-09 at 18.46.39
(Please note this book was given in exchange for an honest review)

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.”

I struggled. I wanted to like this book, but what it comes down to is the writing style. The subject matter, the tone, the mystery, the thrill, it all had potential. It gets lost with the fact that the writing is for middle grade readers. As the story deals with murder, and explains a lot about a dead body and has a killer snatching another girl, I feel the writing doesn’t fit the subject?  With some work, I feel the writing can get there. 

Good things: I loved Alexis. Her profile, her strength and her determination is fantastic. Out of all the characters, Alexis was the only one that I felt nearly reached passed the middle school reading age writing. Her story arc is troubling, but she tries to push forward no matter what happens. She’s admirable and she gives a lot to the story. All of her chapters were my favorite. 

I loved the mystery aspect. The who-dunnit that kept you guessing until the end. Although the reader finds out before the characters, I didn’t see the killer coming (I guess I need to read more mysteries) and I loved how the author used the reveal of the killer to add more thrill with her main characters.

Also a fan of the premise – Search and Rescue in Oregon. Awesome idea. It’s new and interesting. The series has the ability to go places. 

In the end I wish there had been a better pairing. The writing is great for eight-year olds (think Goosebumps), but I wouldn’t want eight-year-olds reading about people killing teenage homeless girls. A bit much. I give much praise for Alexis, and I hope the author can improve Ruby and Nick up to her level. All three teens had excellent backgrounds, it’s just that for their ages Ruby and Nick need to be more mature, they act and sound like they’re ten. 

Don’t agree with me? Want to decide about this book for yourself? The Body in the Woods is out on Tuesday! June 17th! Pre-order now and tell me how you found it! I love a good book discussion. Even better – April Henry is running a special promotion with the amazing Powell’s bookstore in Portland, OR next week:

During the first week The Body in the Woods is on sale, for every copy purchased in person at Powells or online at, I will donate $1.69  to MSCO SAR”

Many thanks to NetGalley and Henry’s publisher, Henry Holt and Co for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. 


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