A Body in the Woods: A Student Book Review


Nadia Turley

“A student review of A Body in the Woods”

Nadia Turley , Staff Writer

A Body in the Woods: Student Book Review


Three teens take drastic matters in their own hands in order to save the lives that could be taken at the hands of an unknown killer at any given time; but the book takes a bloody turn.

Three Oregon high-school students wander the woods searching for a missing person- but find something they weren’t looking for at all. Alexis, Nick, and Ruby are all part of Search and Rescue. On a normal “mission”, they stumble upon the body of a young woman. Through the process of the investigation, more girls are found dead; all homeless. They risk it all to catch the killer before anyone else is killed.

According to former chief of the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, John Douglas, there are 25 to 50 active serial killers in the United States. Many people don’t take this into account, and think of it as nothing more than something scary that happens in horror movies. When such psychologically damaging things transpire in the status quo, people typically don’t know how to handle it. Humans have two instincts when approached with fear: fight or flight. The children in this book chose to fight, and that’s what keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The character development in this story is amazing. It begins with a point of view of each character’s home life and complete analysis of their personality.  The readers get to see the characters grow personally, and connect with each other. The character with the most development is Alexis. She doesn’t play a huge part of the story in the beginning, and her character never had a lot to say. About a quarter way into the book, you will find out that this is because of her home life. “Mom was up. Had been since she stopped taking her medication. Alexis wasn’t sure how long ago that had been. Two weeks? Three? Despite the light in her eyes, her cheeks were hollow, her eyes sunken.” (Page 66). She has a lot going on, but she is very reserved. Towards the end of the book, she steps up and jumps out of her comfort zone. “What they needed, Alexis thought, was something they could use to hold him at bay. To hurt him, if need be. As she hurried up the hill- it was no longer quite a run; Alexis simply couldn’t manage more than sort of lurching trot- she scanned the yards she was passing, looking for something useful she could grab.” She was never the character to take serious or dangerous matters into her own her own hands,  but when worse comes to worse, she had no choice.

The theme of this book is courage and bravery. We see this from every single character. Each character has their own mentality, a different story, and different goals. They all at some point, protagonist included, show extreme amounts of bravery, and have the courage to step out  of their own comfort zones. They all put their lives at risk at some point, which that alone requires a huge amount of bravery. “He was concentrating on kicking Nick’s head with one of his hiking boots. He was pulling his leg back to do it again when Alexis darted up behind him and swung the heavy wooden handle of the rake she had snatched from the lawn.” (Page 250).

While on the authors website, I found a story she wrote about why she writes the intense and gory stories that she does. Crazily enough, while living alone in an apartment while in college, someone broke into her house while she was in the shower and managed to escape right before he planned to tie her up. She understands that saving anyone, including yourself, takes an extreme amount of bravery and courage, and she shows that through her characters.

The author, April Henry, does an excellent job of showing different point of views of the characters, as well as the unknown killer, without confusing the reader. It is very properly laid out. The end of the story has a shocking plot-twist, and the entire story comes together neatly. The author also does an amazing job of keeping the reader engaged. While reading the “filler” pages that lacked excitement, she would add in sentences of foreshadowing that made you want to keep reading to see what would happen. “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.” (Page 1).

Although it deals with death and dark content at times, it also brings light to other negative situations. It helps the reader understand to embrace who you are, even if your interests differ from others around you. The author also shines light on people who haven’t realized their self-worth. “Nick had joined SAR to prove himself. People at school saw a skinny kid who couldn’t sit still, a kid who didn’t fit in anyplace…” (Page 18). This book is an amazing read for young adult readers, and helps us know that no matter what our background or insecurities might be, anyone can be the hero.