Book Trailer Thursday (172)–After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga

Book Trailer Thursday

I just discovered After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga, so I’m happy I stumbled upon the book trailer as well. Admittedly, I’m not as excited about dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories as much anymore, but this one has me intrigued. I’m also interested since it’s co-written by actor Peter Facinelli and producer Robert DeFranco. The story sounds fresh and appealing to my students, plus Barry Lyga writes excellent books.

After the Red RainSummary (From Goodreads):

A postapocalyptic novel with a cinematic twist from New York Times bestseller Barry Lyga, actor Peter Facinelli, and producer Robert DeFranco.

On the ruined planet Earth, where 50 billion people are confined to megacities and resources are scarce, Deedra has been handed a bleak and mundane existence by the Magistrate she works so hard for. But one day she comes across a beautiful boy named Rose struggling to cross the river–a boy with a secretive past and special abilities, who is somehow able to find comfort and life from their dying planet.

But just as the two form a bond, it is quickly torn apart after the Magistrate’s son is murdered and Rose becomes the prime suspect. Little do Deedra and Rose know how much their relationship will affect the fate of everyone who lives on the planet.

Maternity Leave Reading

I started the school year on maternity leave unfortunately. Thankfully I have an amazing sub! Despite not working, however, reading hasn’t been the same since Jack was born. I’ve been trying to listen to more audiobooks since that’s often the only way I can experience a book right now. I have been able to read a few books though.

Since time is a huge commodity right now, and since I REALLY miss blogging, I’ve decided to write some quick reviews about what I’ve read since Jack was born. I’d also love to get some audiobook recommendations since I know I’ll be listening to those even more than I normally do. I like listening to them while I’m feeding Jack in the middle of the night or when he and I are out and about. It’s good for him to hear the audiobooks as well since it will add to the vocabulary he’s exposed to.

What I’ve Read:

Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga (Goodreads): This is the third (and I’m guessing last) book in the I Hunt Killers trilogy. Let me tell you, it is SO GOOD. And SO INTENSE. Jack was sleeping pretty much all day for the first couple weeks so I had a little more time to read and was able to finish this. Barry Lyga knows how to write a gripping murder mystery. My seniors last year loved these books so much that one of them emailed me a week before this released (September 9th) to find out the official release date so he could buy it. There are plenty of twists and turns that I wish I could bring up, but I don’t want to spoil anything for you. If it’s been a while since you’ve read Game, you might want to revisit the last chapter or two because Blood of My Blood picks up right where that left off. Read this trilogy!

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira (Goodreads): I bought this book a couple nights before Jack was born because I’ve read so many positive reviews and because of the comparison to The Perks of Being a Wallflower. So many of my seniors last year loved Perks, so I’m positive my group of seniors this year will enjoy this book as well. Personally, I thought Perks was just an okay book. It didn’t resonate with me like it has with my students, but I really liked Love Letters to the Dead. I listened to this and thoroughly enjoyed the narration. This is an audiobook that I could listen to and relax. The narrator’s voice is soothing and really fits Laurel. The story is written as a series of letters to a few famous dead people and through these letters we understand Laurel better. We also understand her sister and her relationship with her sister better as well. I definitely recommend this one.

What I’m Reading:

Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn (Goodreads): If I didn’t have Jack, I would have read this book in one sitting. I was hooked immediately, but unfortunately I don’t have time right now to just sit back and read for hours. Jamie is an intriguing character and although I’m only halfway through, I have some suspicions about what might really be going on in Jack’s life. This will be a popular title when I return to work.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer (Goodreads): I still haven’t read The Bell Jar, but I’m really curious about Sylvia Plath and really enjoy reading books that are about her or are inspired by her work. Belzhar is one of those books and thanks to Penguin, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the audiobook. The narrator is perfect for Jam, although sometimes I have a hard time distinguishing the voice for her male characters. Belzhar is another story of grief, but it has an interesting twist that I predict will engage quite a few of my students. I’m *this close* to finishing it. Jack and I need to go for a walk so I can listen to the last twenty minutes or so.

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller (Goodreads): If you haven’t read any of Trish Doller’s books then you’re missing out on excellent books. This is her third book and it doesn’t release until June 2015. I’m so thankful to have received an ARC of this already and will certainly write a full review of it once I’m finished. I’m reading it now because Trish is part of the NCTE session I’m co-chairing with Jillian Heise. Plus, it’s a Trish Doller book and there’s no way I can let it sit unread. I’m about 100 pages in right now and the mystery part of the plot is coming together. I value sleep more than I ever have before, but The Devil You Know is so good I’ve been reading instead of napping when the chance arrives. Add this to your TBR list if you haven’t already.

Waiting on Wednesday–Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga

wow

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

My life has been a little overwhelming as of late (mostly in good ways), which is why I haven’t been reading or posting anything. Christmas break felt like the first time I was able to relax since getting back from NCTE in Boston, but then I came back to school and was swamped with the end of the semester and midterm exams. I’ve noticed that I always go through a blogging/reading slump in January, however, and end up picking right back up where I left off in February. I sure hope that’s the case this year! Do any of you go through blogging/reading slumps at this time of year?

Anyway, I’m SUPER excited about the upcoming release of Barry Lyga’s newest book in the Jasper Dent series. This cover is fantastic, although a little different than the first two books’ covers. Regardless, it’s eye-catching and going to intrigue my students. Blood of My Blood doesn’t release for a while, but I couldn’t resist posting about it. I would avoid reading the summary if you haven’t read this series.

Blood of My BloodTitle & Author: Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga

Release Date: September 22nd, 2014

Publisher: Little, Brown

Summary (From Goodreads):

Jazz Dent has been shot and left to die in New York City. His girlfriend Connie is in the clutches of Jazz’s serial killer father, Billy. And his best friend Howie is bleeding to death on the floor of Jazz’s own home in tiny Lobo’s Nod. Somehow, these three must rise above the horrors their lives have become and find a way to come together in pursuit of Billy. But then Jazz crosses a line he’s never crossed before, and soon the entire country is wondering: “Like father, like son?” Who is the true monster?

The chase is on, and this time Jazz is the hunted, not the hunter. And beyond Billy there lurks something much, much worse. Prepare to meet…the Crow King.

Stock Your Shelves: Class Library Must-Have Titles

The start of a new school year is just around the corner, although for many of you it’s already started.  Whenever this time of year approaches I’m always making a list of books I need to buy for my classroom library.  I figured I’m not the only one, so I decided to make a list of books that I want to buy and that I recommend for a classroom library.  If you’d like additional title recommendations feel free to leave a comment.

Summer/Fall Releases:

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle (Goodreads)–This releases on August 20th August 27th (edited on 8/20, sorry for the mistake!), so I’ll have a review up shortly. Basically, this is all-around wonderful.

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller (Goodreads)–This releases on Sept. 24th. I’ll have a review up on the Nerdy Book Club blog before the release and that same review will post here on the release date.  Trish Doller writes magic, people.

Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon (Goodreads)–Think The Fault in Our Stars from a funny guy’s point of view, yet totally standing apart from John Green’s hit. I know that might be confusing. This releases on Sept. 3rd.

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider (Goodreads)–It’s an awful lot like Looking for Alaska, but not as sad (or at least I didn’t think so). Still, it has a different kind of voice and will appeal to teens.  This releases on August 27th.

Books with Guy Appeal:

Winger by Andrew Smith (Goodreads)–I want to buy multiple copies of this.

Swim the Fly by Don Calame (Goodreads)–A lot of my boys really like this book and the companion books. It’s a really funny, quick read.

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach (Goodreads)–I’ve been raving about this book since before it was released in 2011.

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker (Goodreads)–I still haven’t read this, but I have multiple copies because my boys in class LOVE it.

Kindness for Weakness by Shawn Goodman (Goodreads)–This is a fantastic and realistic book about a boy in juvie.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (Goodreads)–This is mysterious, funny, and features the son of a serial killer trying to help the police find a serial killer. Yep, it’s a hit with all of my students.

Verse Novels:

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder (Goodreads)–I recommend buying all of her books. This and Chasing Brooklyn are two of the most popular books in my room.

What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones (Goodreads)–This title has been around for a while. Every year it becomes a new favorite for many of my students.

Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams (Goodreads)–This is a great title to recommend to your Ellen Hopkins fans.

Ellen Hopkins–ALL of her books are huge hits with my students.

Oldies by Goodies:

Unwind by Neal Shusterman (Goodreads)–This released in 2007 and became popular again when its sequel Unwholly released last fall. The final book in the trilogy, UnSouled, releases on November 7th.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Goodreads)–Every time this releases with a new cover I buy it. It should be in every library.

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (Goodreads)–This originally published in 1974 and I hook some pretty reluctant readers with it.

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr (Goodreads)–This was my first Sara Zarr book and my favorite until I read How to Save a Life. Sara Zarr writes wonderfully realistic stories.

Forever by Judy Blume (Goodreads)–For many of my girls, this is the book that turns them into readers.

Sci-Fi/Dystopian:

The Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman (Goodreads)–Time travel, ghosts, and so much more. This is science fiction at its best.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Goodreads)–I recommend this every year, multiple times a year. It’s amazing.

Legend by Marie Lu (Goodreads)–I love that this has two points of view and appeals to guys and girls. I’m planning on reading it to my seniors while we read 1984.

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid (Goodreads)–Gamers will love this.

“Quiet” YA:

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (Goodreads)–This wonderful book may not have received a lot of hype from its publishers, but so many of its readers love it. Plus it pairs perfectly with Of Mice and Men.

Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia (Goodreads)–The main character is pregnant, but it’s more than a book about a pregnant teenager.

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard (Goodreads)–This book will resonate with so many teenage girls. It’s fantastic.

If I Lie by Corrine Jackson (Goodreads)–All it took was one of my girls to read this and rave about it for it to become an instant hit in my classroom.

So. Much. Hype!:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Goodreads): I’ll admit it, I didn’t want to like this. But I really did and my students adore it. My students who didn’t like Looking for Alaska at all loved this.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Goodreads): I’ve replaced this book multiple times because it’s gone “missing” so often.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Goodreads)–One of my boys in class read this and loved it; one of my girls who reads “edgy” books read this and loved it. It’s an all-around winner.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (Goodreads)–I haven’t finished reading this yet, but it went around my room a couple times before the school year ended. The boys who read it said it’s awesome.

My Favorite Books of 2013 (So Far)

toptentuesday-New

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

For today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, we’re supposed to compose a list of our favorite books of 2013 (so far).  This was a harder list to create than I thought it would be; it would probably be easier to create at the end of the summer after I’ve been able to catch up on my reading.  Some of these titles will remain on the list at the end of the year, but I know many will be replaced by even better titles.  It will be fun to find discover those books!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Goodreads) (My mini review)–This will remain a favorite at the end of the year.  I hope many of my students will read this in the future.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (Goodreads) (My review)–Not only will this definitely be a favorite at the end of the year, Rainbow Rowell is a new favorite author.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseEleanor & Park

I’m With Stupid by Geoff Herbach (Goodreads) (My review)–What a way to end a truly wonderful trilogy.

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Goodreads) (Review posts on Friday)–I just finished reading this and can’t stop thinking about Carley and the Murphys.  Plus, I’m still sniffling.

I'm With Stupid new coverOne for the Murphys

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (Goodreads) (My review)–I love the characters in this 2013 debut, but I think the writing is what really won me over.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Goodreads)–So I’m definitely cheating here because I haven’t finished this yet, but I’m loving the audio and the story way too much not to include it on this list.  It’s fabulous.

Wild AwakeThe Help

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (Goodreads) (My review)–I liked this more than Between Shades of Gray.

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (Goodreads)–This is another fantastic audiobook that I thoroughly enjoyed.  It’s middle grade, historical fiction, and full of well-developed characters.  Listening to the audio meant I missed out on seeing the different birds from Audobon’s Birds of America, however.

Out of the EasyOkay for Now

Game by Barry Lyga (Goodreads) (My review)–This was even better than I Hunt Killers and it has a crazy cliffhanger!

Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting (Goodreads) (My review)–This is one of my absolute favorite series, and even though I haven’t heard of a fifth book in the series, I’m still holding out hope that this isn’t the last book!

GameDead Silence

Review: Game by Barry Lyga

GameTitle: Game

Author: Barry Lyga

Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers

Release Date: April 16th, 2013

Interest: Series / Author

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): I Hunt Killers introduced the world to Jasper (Jazz) Dent, the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer.

When a desperate New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz’s door asking for help with a new case, Jazz can’t say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple–and its police force running scared with no leads. So Jazz and his girlfriend Connie hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer’s murderous game.

Meanwhile, Jazz’s dad Billy is watching…and waiting.

I need to start off by saying that I enjoyed Game even more than I enjoyed I Hunt KillersBarry Lyga has done an excellent job building Jazz’s character and creating an intense and thoroughly enjoyable story.  It’s still gory like I Hunt Killers, so be prepared.

What I liked about Game by Barry Lyga:

  • The mystery and thrill.  The third person narrative switches from Jazz to other characters, but the best is when it focuses on the killer.  I love it when murder mysteries switch to this perspective because it adds an extra amount of intensity and creepiness.
  • Connie.  I enjoyed her character in I Hunt Killers, but I love how much more we get to know her in Game.  She’s smart and witty and really balances Jazz.  And her bigger role in this book adds so much more to the plot.
  • The pacing.  I took my time reading Game because I was enjoying it so much and I started it so far before the release date, but the pacing makes it a fast read.  I usually had to force myself to put it down.  There’s twist after twist in this story, which made it so much fun to read.
  • New characters.  I don’t want to give too much away, but an added character midway through the story kept me on my toes.  I kept second-guessing my thoughts about this character and if there was more to this person than I originally thought.
  • The ending.  What. A. Cliffhanger!  Can I have the third book now please?

What I disliked about Game:

  • There isn’t anything I disliked about Game 🙂

1st Hour Book Love

After reading Cindy’s blog post about the ALA awards, I came up with the idea to ask my students which books are their favorites and deserve awards.  I asked my 1st-3rd hour to list books they read and loved in 2012.  I expressed that it’s great if they’re 2012 releases, but it’s okay if they’re not.  With the help of my fabulous cadet teacher (senior class student who plans on becoming a teacher), Tristan, I have the top books listed for each class.  I’m posting the 1st hour results today, and I’ll post the next two class results over the next two days.

Top Choice: If I Lie by Corrine Jackson
**Side note–A few students cheered when I told them this was the top choice 1st hour**

If I Lie

What students said about If I Lie (Goodreads):

“I listed this book because she stayed true to her friend no matter how badly it affected her.” -Trista

“It’s touching and super cute.” -Kaelyn

Honorary Titles:

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (Goodreads)

I Hunt Killers final

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach (Goodreads)
“It’s just good all-around” -Joe (a very to the point answer :))

Stupid Fast

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Goodreads)
“I love how she slowly uncovers everything.” -Katie

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington (Goodreads)

Embrace

Divergent by Veronica Roth (Goodreads)
**Side note–This class is very excited about the third book releasing & this being made into a movie.**

Divergent

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Goodreads)
“It’s different and not predictable at all.” -Kara

Miss-Peregrines-Home-for-Peculiar-Children

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger (Goodreads)

Shut Out

Crank by Ellen Hopkins (Goodreads)

crank

Looking for Alaska by John Green (Goodreads)
**Side note–Announcing this title sparked a lot of debate because some loved it and others didn’t like it at all.**

“I love the Before and After because it allows us to see how Pudge handles everything **avoiding spoiler** after.” -Hannah B.

cover-of-looking-for-alaska

Some YA Guys You Should Know

Okay, so maybe you can’t actually “meet” these YA guys, but they’re definitely some fab characters you should “get to know.”  I originally meant for this to be a Top Ten Tuesday post, but I posted a review that day and ended up not having the time to write a second post.  So I guess it’s a Top Ten Sunday post 🙂

Anyway, I’m always on the hunt for books with guy appeal, so that’s how I’ve come across some of these characters.  I also appreciate laugh-out-loud funny books, and quite a few of these guys caused me to LOL.  I hope you enjoy my random Sunday post!

My Favorite YA Guys

Felton Reinstein–If you’ve been following my blog for the past year, then you are probably well aware of my love for Stupid Fast and Nothing Special.  If not, check out my reviews here and here.  In short, Geoff Herbach knows guys and he writes awesomely real guy characters.

 

Jace Witherspoon–Jace is another very real, very authentic character.  If you haven’t read Split by Swathi Avasthi, you need to move it to the top of your TBR pile.  His character will take you on a roller coaster of emotions.  I was hopeful, shocked, angry, protective, etc when I read Split.  (Here’s my review if you’re interested.)

Finley & Russ–Finley and Russ from Matthew Quick’s Boy 21 have to be listed together because they’re equally wonderful.  Finley is the narrator, but he’s very quiet and simply doesn’t talk much.  He’s also very loyal to his family, his girlfriend, his basketball team, and his coach.  He’s a character you cheer for and grow attached to.  Russ is suffering after the death of his parents and refers to himself as Boy 21, a person who will be going back to space any day now.  He and Finley are paired up for a variety of reasons.  They’re journey together and growing friendship is heartwarming and heartbreaking.  (My review)

Tom Raines–Insignia is a fantastic sci-fi debut, most of which is due to Tom Raines as the main character.  He’s very funny and very relateable, even if he’s a superhuman war machine later in the novel (Don’t worry, I didn’t spoil that. It’s in the summary.).  As a teacher, it’s easy for me to hand this book to the right guys in class because I know exactly which guys and which types of guys will enjoy Tom Raines and this book. (I reviewed this as well.)

Chuck Taylor–I didn’t end up reviewing Lexapros and Cons, and I’m really not sure why I didn’t, but it’s a seriously funny book.  It’s also full of sexual innuendo, straight up sex jokes, and foul language, but none of that kept me from enjoying it.  All of those factors are what made the book and the main character, Chuck Taylor, so funny.  He suffers from OCD, and this book navigates us through his life as he tries to deal with his disorder.  Despite the language and jokes, I’ve added Aaron Karo’s book to my class library because Chuck Taylor is a character that my guys in class will relate to and enjoy.  Here’s the link to the Lexapros and Cons Goodreads page.

Jasper (Jazz) Dent–Jazz Dent has some serious issues courtesy of his serial killer father.  He grew up with a father who taught him how to be a serial killer, and now with his dad in jail, there’s another serial killer on the loose in Jazz’s town.  Jazz ends up getting involved with the case, which stirs up an overadunance of emotions and memories he’d rather forget.  I like Jazz’s character because he’s witty, smart, vulnerable, and not wholly trustable.  I spent most of the book second-guessing what he did and said, which is a big reason why I like the book.  It kept me on my toes the entire time I read it.  (My review of I Hunt Killers)

Travis–Something Like Normal is a top notch book with a spot-on male protagonist.  I love it when flawed characters are written well, and I love it even more when those flawed characters can find their way to self-acceptance.  So many readers, male and female, will appreciate and love this book.  I know my guys in class will love it, so my class library will have multiple copies of Something Like Normal this coming school year.  (My review)

Ron Weasley–Is it safe to assume that we all know (and maybe love) Ron Weasley?  I know he isn’t the star of Harry Potter, but I simply adore him.  I can’t help but love the underdog, especially when he’s kind of dorky and pretty funny.

Tiny Cooper–Have you read Will Grayson, Will Grayson yet?  It’s one of those books that I wish more of my students would read because it’s just so good.  And funny.  And poignant.  I appreciate you, Tiny Cooper.  (My review)

Arnold “Junior” Spirit–I can’t finish this list without including Junior from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  His description of himself within the first few pages of the book had me snorting with laughter.  The illustrations that depict his life are charming and insightful.  The hardships he faces made me teary a number of times throughout the book.  If you haven’t read Sherman Alexie’s fantastic novel yet, I really hope you do soon.

Student Book Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Since reading I Hunt Killers and telling my students about it and showing them the trailer, it’s become quite popular among my students.  Today’s student reviewer, Bobby, bought his own copy to read and is now focusing his Y.A. Lit project on Barry Lyga and his books.  I’ve already reviewed I Hunt Killers, but I love getting the opportunity to feature what my students think about books I’ve read as well since so many of my reviews focus on what I think my students will want to read.  I hope you enjoy Bobby’s 5 star review!

Title: I Hunt Killers

Author: Barry Lyga

Student Reviewer: Bobby

Summary (From Goodreads):

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?

Student Review:

Jasper Dent is son of one of the most infamous serial killers of all time and was taught as a kid how to be a killer. So when a serial killer comes to his small town he tries to help the cops find out who it is by looking through the killers’ perspective.

I Hunt Killers is a great book. It is very interesting to read and I could not put it down until I had finished it, and unlike most other books I could not figure out who the killer was until I had finished. It is fast paced and doesn’t have a boring part in it. It is full of suspense and mystery; also it had a little bit of a romance in it.

One of my favorite things about it is how Jasper somewhat explains what the killer is thinking and explains why the killer does what he does. And that he explains what his dad did and how he did it, along with what happened to him as a child growing up with his dad.

In this book the characters were very developed, each with their own very distinct personality. It really felt like I knew them. It wasn’t just the major characters that were developed either, unlike many other books, even many of the minor characters were developed well.  This really allowed me to connect with them and have feelings for each one.

Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers CoverTitle: I Hunt Killers, 368 pages

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.

%d bloggers like this: