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Spoiler-Free Review: The Last Echo

The following review contains

my thoughts in a few sentences: After Desires of the Dead, which I enjoyed, though not as much as The Body Finder, I was pretty wary of The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting. Between newfound friends, a new job with her very strange and eerie talent, and a potential third point in a love triangle, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the story in the same way. In The Body Finder, Violet Ambrose is just an ordinary girl with an extraordinary secret, who’s struggling with this dysfunctional ability, a crush on her long-time best friend, and all the daily problems brought on by the day. However, in Desires of the Dead, introducing a slew of characters with similar abilities as to hers, the story seemed less somehow. I didn’t like The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting more than The Body Finder, but it was close, and definitely much more enjoyable than Desires of the Dead.

hooking first line: "Violet strained, searching for the sensation through the suffocating blackness."

Harper Teen • Library Borrow • Paranormal • 4/17/12 • $13.75

The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting
DON'T TO READ THE FOLLOWING SUMMARY if you haven't read book one.

In the end, all that's left is an echo...

Violet kept her morbid ability to sense dead bodies a secret from everyone except her family and her childhood-best-friend-turned-boyfriend, Jay Heaton. That is until forensic psychologist Sara Priest discovered Violet's talent and invited her to use her gift to track down murderers. Now, as she works with an eclectic group of individuals—including mysterious and dangerously attractive Rafe—it's Violet's job to help those who have been murdered by bringing their killers to justice. When Violet discovers the body of a college girl killed by "the girlfriend collector" she is determined to solve the case. But now the serial killer is on the lookout for a new "relationship" and Violet may have caught his eye...
The scariest psychopath yet

One of the most twistedly thrilling aspects of Derting’s series is the sick avenues introduced to Violet because of her gift. She’s witnessed some gruesome things, and as her ability allows her to find the murdered dead, you can only imagine what sorts of… disturbing things she’s stumbled across. In each book so far, there’s been an elusive sicko responsible for ugly murders within the area. The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting features The Collector (or TC, as I’ll be calling the killer), and he’s somehow the most chilling of the serial killers thus far.

The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting treats us to alternating chapters with this warped villain, as always, and we see how deeply wrong TC is in the cranium, how his desires seem almost innocent, normal and how they turn into something not, something very dark and frightening. And unlike past baddies, TC does manage to evoke some small form of sympathy from us despite his horrible, dastardly deeds, which is interesting considering we’re talking about A MURDERER here. TC shows that not every dangerous person is born with something rotten inside him—it’s made in him by the cruelties of others. Does that excuse his actions? DEFINITELY NOT. But, it was different and interesting to feel pity for a such a deeply disturbed person, responsible for so much loss and pain. I like characters, especially villains, with that kind of complexity.

Crime mysteries, parents, and a worried boyfriend

With the developments in Desires of the Dead fresh in mind, The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting expands on the new characters brought on so that we get to know the group acting as Violet’s very own crime investigation unit, who very much want to utilize her special skill. Each are amusing in their own way, but there isn’t much to connect to yet, unfortunately. What I liked more than the actual teenagers is how they go about solving the crime mysteries that crop up. They’re daring, protective, and work as a fascinating team as they use their own cool underlying powers.

While this might seem all well and fab—yay, Violet fits in with some equally weird peeps now!—little Miss Supernatural Nancy Drew over here isn’t pleasing her parents very much with all the trouble she finds herself in because of her friends and all this tracking down bodies business, which is a severe detriment to her mental welfare. Not to mention the fact that the more she puts herself out there, the more baddies and crazies does she attract to herself and her home. Her parents exert their So Shall It Be powers over her life, constantly aching over what’s best for her and helping her prevent making the same mistakes. The parental involvement is a plus, for me at least, because not only do we rarely get to see that in YA—how unrealistic is that, really?—but because her parents are pretty fly themselves and they actually care A LOT.

And because of all this crime busting, this part of Violet’s life is sucking up all her time. WHICH MEANS LESS JAY. WHICH I’M NOT IN FAVOR OF. Of course Jay is one of my favorite fictional males, and I DID NOT APPRECIATE the lack of face time with this awesome boy. He’s there, sure, but can you blame him for getting jealous? Here Violet is hanging around every day without him and in the company of a very attractive guy clearly interested in her. Poor Jay. I’ve never seen a teenager with so much patience and a knack for suppressing things.

Which brings me to the suspicious love triangle

To say I was furious with Derting over the potential introduction of a love triangle is putting it mildly. I WAS UNREASONABLE AND INFURIATED. I felt cheated, manipulated. I never thought that Derting would stoop so low and show off a sexy piece of boy-candy as a very non-subtle plot device. Maybe that’s what played into my lack of excitement over the second sequel. The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting just made me madder in places because I was starting to find myself attracted to this enigmatic, sarcastic Rafe. I wanted to shake my fists and cry into the stormy sky my rising horror and agitation at having desires for anyone besides Jay.

But, damn the boy, it’s impossible not to like him a little. Still, that didn’t mean I was on board with a love triangle, or of Violet dumping Jay for this Rafe *scoffs*. Yet, I could see and feel that electric attraction however over-used the type. Violet and Rafe’s relationship gives a nice flavor to the story, all charged tension and forbiddeness—because, hullo, she is with Jay after all. Thankfully, I got to appreciate Violet for her restraint—otherwise I would’ve written her off as unforgivable.

Hmmm, some new, unexpected-ish villainy

The ending of The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting hints at a different sort of antagonism in the next, and, I believe, final, book in the series. It makes me wonder whether there will be another murder mystery/very sick killer in the next one or a more common nasty. It seems as if a very intriguing, exciting fight awaits the characters and I can’t wait to dive in, see where the series goes, how it ends.

My biggest wish for the final installment is more Jay involvement. Not just in hot, sexy, smoldery scenes but in her crime-mystery-solving and bad-guy-catching. Because that would bring whole new levels of sexy to his character. Just saying.

As a whole, I had a lot of fun with The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting and I found it to be a definite improvement from Desires of the Dead.

Rating: Sud-Kissed
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Erin W. said...

Great review! I love this series not to mention Jay. I wished our boy had more of the spotlight for a change because he would be like Nancy Drew's Ned Nickerson, only better. Damn. Anyway glad to hear Rafe has more of a part. He is a great, interesting character that I would love to get to know more about!

Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

I adore Jay - which means less Jay is something I'm not I approve of either! :( Great review, Asher!

Caroline Taylor078 said...

I finished this last week and like you I didn't enjoy book 2 as much as the first, however this one I absolutely loved, The Collector was so creepy and I loved the little insights into his head, a little bit of a cliffhanger at the end aswell, can't wait for the 4th book. My only annoyance is the UK have changed the cover for the 3rd book meaning it looks nothing like my first 2, how annoying!!

Giselleco said...

Eeeeh... you had me at "disturbing things"! I haven't read this series at all but it keeps popping up and making me super curious!! And they always have to give us a triangle huh!? Al.ways *sigh*