Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Title: I Hunt Killers
Author: Barry Lyga
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Rating: 4/5

Cover Impressions:
The cover is a little too dark for my liking.  I would have preferred to see a little more of the silhouette.  The title is really intriguing and catches the eye as it sits front and center. 

The Gist:
Jazz is the son of the most prolific serial killer that the US has ever seen.  While other children were learning to play catch, Billy Dent was teaching Jazz how to pick, stalk, and murder his "prospects".  When bodies once again appear in Lobo's Nob, Jazz is convinced that it is the work of a new serial killer and he is determined to worm his way into the investigation at once, finding a killer, clearing his name and testing his own boundaries in the sight of mutilation and murder.

I Hunt Killers provides a unique perspective as we explore the mind of Jasper "Jazz" Dent, a boy who was raised on murder and mayhem.  With his father in prison on multiple life sentences, Jazz struggles with his personal demons while he attempts to create some semblance of a normal life in the town that Billy terrorized.  Jazz is a fantastically complex character.  Throughout his investigation, he uses some of the skills that Dear Old Dad taught him while vehemently denying others.  Jazz is the type of character that you want to hug, shake and slap all in the same breath.  He is flanked by Howie, a hilarious hemophiliac and Connie, his take-no-shit girlfriend.  The secondary characters are quite well written and add a great deal to the overall storyline and to keeping Jazz human.

I did find the plot a little slow going at times.  There was quite a bit of teen angst as Jazz tries to sort through how much of his personality is his own and how much was placed there as he trained to be Billy's protege.  There are a few plot twists that are fairly easy to see coming but the novel is enjoyable overall.  I think this was a great introduction but I believe the truly engrossing reads are going to come further along in the series when Jazz confronts both his past and his mass-murdering father.

This books is DARK.  I will NOT BE RECOMMENDING THIS TO MY STUDENTS.  There are scenes of extreme violence and gore.  There are disturbing moments that would provide nightmares to the most stoic of teens and there is language that would make a hooker blush.  I can only imagine the phone calls from irate parents if I were to send this book home with their kid.  If you are a parent considering this book for your older teen, ask yourself if you think they enjoy/can handle tv shows like Criminal Minds which often involve kidnapping, torture, and gruesome murders. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

16 and up
Gender: Both
Sex: Discussion of sex, Kissing, Some Groping
Violence: LOTS AND VARIED.  Murder by strangulation, murder by injection of chemicals, talk of rape, description of violence and crime scenes. 
Inappropriate Language: Ass, Douche, Whores, Bastard, Dick, Pussy, Titties
Substance Use/Abuse:  None.

Notable Quotables:

"'Me, personally?' Howie asked. 'I usually carry all my corpses downhill.  Easier on the back'"
"He easily gather her in his arms; Gramma was made up of skin and bones and hate and crazy - and hate and crazy don't weigh anything"


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