Author: Barry Lyga
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: April 3rd, 2012
Interest: Author / Guy appeal / Mystery
Source: ARC received from the publisher
Summary (From the Publisher’s Website):
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?
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga is an edgy thriller that I really enjoyed. I love finding YA crime novels because so many of my students enjoy mysteries and Dean Koontz novels. Many of my Dean Koontz fans have a hard time trying YA, so being able to hand them a couple of good YA mysteries or crime novels is always appreciated. One thing to keep in mind about I Hunt Killers is that considering the very nature of the book, it’s sometimes very graphic and descriptive. Jazz has lived a horrific life that I can’t imagine any child experiencing. His memories and the crime scenes are often gruesome. I believe in allowing students to self-censor, but knowing my students and having read this book will help me recommend I Hung Killers to the right students. If you plan on adding Barry Lyga’s newest novel to your library or class library, which I hope you do, I recommend reading it first.
Because of Jazz’s upbringing, and the way his father has practically brain-washed him, Jazz is a complicated character. He’s incredibly scared of becoming a serial killer, but he’s also sometimes intrigued by the idea of being a serial killer. These conflicting emotions force him to keep his best friend and girlfriend at a safe distance. He can imagine how easy it would be to kill both of them, but then he’ll talk himself into believing that some serial killers have feelings and care for others. Jazz is lucky to have his best friend Howie and his girlfriend Connie because they believe in him and trust him. Despite Jazz’s internal suffering, I never lost hope in him that he’s ultimately good. I’m really impressed with his character.
I wasn’t really bothered by the graphic scenes, but I can imagine some of my students having a hard time with them. Fortunately there really aren’t too many scenes like this depicted. The tension, however, is almost always present. It kept me turning the pages because it’s so well done. I’m really happy Barry Lyga included Howie’s character because he adds the perfect amount of comic relief. He’s a great side kick character that I kept rooting for. It doesn’t seem to matter how many dangerous or bad situations he gets into with Jazz, because he never gives up on him. If it weren’t for Howie, the tension and suspense in I Hunt Killers would probably become overwhelming.
Throughout I Hunt Killers we get the killer’s point of view which added another element of mystery and intrigue to the story. It reminded me of Kimberly Derting’s The Body Finder series because we also get to read the killers’ point of view. These two novels would pair well together, although if you’re a fan of The Body Finder because of the romance, it’s important to note that there really isn’t much romance in I Hunt Killers.