Tuesday, October 30, 2012
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?
Jasper "Jazz" Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.
But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal's point of view.
And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.
In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?(courtesy of Goodreads)
I Hunt Killers is a perfect Halloween read. There are no ghosts or zombies or vampires. Rather, it features gritty murders, a possibly unreliable narrator, and more details than I ever thought I’d know about how to kill a person. Holly Black said after reading this book: “I no longer want to be left alone with Barry Lyga.” That was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but I see what she’s saying.
Everyone wonders whether they will someday turn into their parents. What happens if you’re the son of a sociopath serial killer? Who will you turn into? Jazz is a nice kid who is terrified that he will become the killer that his father trained him to be. After eluding the police for years, Jazz’s father is finally in prison. Jazz is free to be a normal teenager. But when copycat serial killings start happening near his town, Jazz fears not only that he might be blamed for them but that he actually might be doing them.
I really liked Jazz. He comes off as confident, charming, sometimes overly assertive, but he’s also unassuming and deeply afraid of turning into an evil killer. He is introspective - so much so that he questions even whether his good qualities are wrongly motivated. You could wonder whether his sincere voice is perhaps that of a manipulative sociopath, fooling the reader just as much as the people in his fictional life. But I tend to take characters at face level and believed him to be a nice kid burdened with his father’s shadow. I loved that his best friend was a hemophiliac - that Jazz treated someone who was physically weaker than him as an equal. Plus, the kid was a hoot. I also admired his relationship with Connie, a funny, strong, intelligent girl. Jazz’s dark, dry humor made an otherwise depressing book a lot of fun.
We learn a lot about Jazz’s childhood with his father. It was a horribly abusive relationship that didn’t always feel that way. His father trained him to be a killer from a young age and to glory in the thought of murder. Yet it often felt like a father who was trying to teach his son a craft that he loved. Or was he a sociopath incapable of love just trying to bring up a lackey? Jazz’s father fooled the townspeople for years and he often fooled me.
I Hunt Killers is not for the faint of heart. I have a strong stomach, but even I was deeply disturbed by the level of detail the book goes into about the murders. Add to that the level of knowledge and fascination that Jazz has with dead human bodies and you have one very strange book. It felt somewhat like a car crash that you want to, but can’t quite turn your head away from.
I Hunt Killers is like nothing you’ve ever read before. In a good way. I quickly fell in love with Jazz, Howie, and Connie. I root for Jazz even though I’m not sure I trust him 100%. You will storm through the suspenseful plot and probably cover your eyes at a point or two. I definitely cannot wait to see what happens to Jazz next.