May 21, 2012
Title: I Hunt Killers
Author: Barry Lyga
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
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?
It’ll come as no surprise to the people who know me that when I heard about a YA thriller about serial killers, I knew that book would be right up my alley. (And yet, I’ve never watched Dexter. Why haven’t I? I keep hearing this book compared to it.)
I loved I HUNT KILLERS. Jazz was a perfect protagonist, and such a complex character. He’s a bit scary (after all, he could easily kill you and everyone knows it), but he’s also really sympathetic. That’s a really hard to achieve when you’re writing about a potential serial killer. But Jazz doesn’t WANT to be a serial killer. He doesn’t want to give into those impulses and desires his dad tried so hard to instill in him. He wants to prove he’s a good person. Only . . . he doesn’t know if he can resist those desires so deeply ingrained in him.
Of course, the other characters were great too. There’s Billy, who’s locked away in prison, but still manages to be this ever looming threat, perhaps because he saw Jazz as his protege. So Billy’s threat is still there in Jazz.
Then there’s Howie, Jazz’s hilarious hemophiliac best friend. What an odd combination, those two, but also perfect. The potential serial killer and the kid who bruises way too easily. Connie, Jazz’s girlfriend, is also a good character. And, without spoilers, her character is a great way to show how Jazz navigates his killer instincts. I also thought Jazz’s relationship with the police was great.
One thing I loved about this book was how funny it was. In a really dark sort of way. I quite like dark humor. For instance, there’s one line that had me giggling for a really long time:
“Making a duplicate key from a wax impression was an extremely useful skill to have if you were the sort of person who liked invading other people’s homes and killing them.”
So, finally. Why did I only give this book four stars? Well, mostly because I guessed everything that would happen. I won’t get into HOW I knew what would happen, because that would be getting into character analyses, and plot analysis, which would get into spoiler territory. Ha.
I definitely, DEFINITELY, hope we see more thrillers and more dark books like this in YA. That is something I can get on board with.
So I recommend I HUNT KILLERS to anyone who likes thrillers, dark humor, and all that serial killer stuff 🙂 Also, those who like Dexter, apparently, even though I’ve never seen the show. Ha!