Rummanah Aasi
 I have been curious about Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers since it was an idea that the author was working on. My curiosity grew as his Facebook statuses began to reflect on the chapters and characters he was writing about. So when I had the opportunity to read an advanced reader's copy of the book, I pounced. Thank you to Little Brown for the advanced reader's copy. As a side note, I am doing an ARC giveaway of this title along with several other books, if you're interested be sure to click on the book cover found on the right panel of the blog to enter!

Description (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?


Review: As much as I anticipated for I Hunt Killers, I wasn't sure if I'd be brave enough to read it. I'm not interested in serial killers. I switch the channel and make an effort to not watch Silence of the Lambs. I've only caught the last half of Copycat when Holly Hunter is about to catch the bad guy. Sure I was glued to the screen when I saw David Fincher's Se7en and Zodiac, but that's because the emphasis was based on psychology and the aftermath of the murders rather than watching the serial killer at work. I told myself I'd give I Hunt Killers a shot, just to see what it is about and if it got too much, I'd put it down. Right. For my lunch break, I burned through the first 100 pages of the book. Every time I thought of putting it down, I was on the verge of discovering something new and had to pick it right up again. I was hooked, riveted, and completely disturbed.
  Are violent offenders the product of nature or nurture? Do you have the ability to change your destiny when all odds are set against you?  If you are Jasper “Jazz” Dent, I'm not so sure the answer is a resounding yes for both questions. He has two huge factors working against him: Not only is he the son of the country’s most notorious serial killer, but daddy dearest has forced him to watch those grisly crimes and sometimes…more. Jazz is barely surviving. He thrives on the belief that he will not follow his father's footsteps. He believes people are real and have feelings. At least that’s what Jazz keeps telling himself as he watches the police inspect the crime scene of a brutal murder through his binoculars at home. Jazz suspects a new serial killer is at work in his small town and can't help but flash back to the memories that make him extremely uneasy. Is it possible that he help kill someone he loved without knowing it? Can he stop the ticking bomb within himself as he hears his father's soft voice instructing him on 'to enjoy and capture' a new prey? 
  I'm sure many of you think this book is "Dexter for YA", which is exactly how it is marketed, but what sets this apart is Jazz. He is incredibly complex, and believable character. Jazz is consumed by the idea that he is incapable of loving anyone without hurting them. He carries the guilt of not helping his father's victims or 'toys' and hangs their pictures as a reminder. Though he is charismatic and charming, you wonder about his intentions. He easily manipulates his friends to help him in the investigation without a second thought, putting his mission and needs first. Even though we admire and hope along with him that he can capture the serial killer on the loose and be better than his father, we realize that his mission is tainted in more ways than one. For Jazz, justice is a second priority. Clearing his name is his first.
 The story itself is engaging. Though I don't know anything about criminology, it does look detailed, well-researched in an accessible way. I was delighted to discover a few chapters written from the serial killer's point of view interspersed with Jazz's chapter which ramped up the suspense. These chapters were brief and allowed us to see whether or not Jazz was on the right track on finding the serial killer. I did not expect the book to be funny, more of the black, dry comedy flare, which is a nice surprise to lighten the book's somber tone.
  Despite its catchy plot and great characters, I'm not sure this book is for everyone. I admire Lyga's tenacity of refusing to look away from the often horrific nature of brutal crimes. The twisted mind games made my head spin and I was shocked multiple times.  Early in the book we’re eased into some crimes because they’re mostly told in past tense, but the later scenes definitely escalate in tension and violence, some of which are graphic but nothing that wouldn't be shown on CSI or other detective shows found on TV.
  There were a few times when the writing faltered by using overused phrases or the use of paragraphs when a few, sharp sentences would suffice. I also think that Jazz’s give and take relationship with the police is something readers will have to grapple with, although their doubtful reliance upon him is portrayed in a fairly believable tone. The ending made me scream is frustration as it ends with a semi-cliffhanger and leaves open for a much anticipated sequel. 
 I Hunt Killers definitely pushes the YA envelope, making us rethink once again what young adult literature means. While I would hesitate giving this book to younger teens due to the psychological content of the book instead of the violence, I do think it's more suitable for older teens and adults. Readers who are looking for a psychological thriller have been served. Dark, disturbing, and unsuspectingly funny, I Hunt Killers will grab your interest and not let go. 


Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong violence (mostly, which takes off screen but it is described graphically) and some strong language. Recommended for Grades 10 and up.

If you like this book try: Zodiac by Robert Graysmith, Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris, Darkly Dreaming Dexer by Jeff Lindsey, and I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
9 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    "Every time I thought of putting it down, I was on the verge of discovering something new and had to pick it right up again."

    LOVE IT WHEN THIS HAPPENS!!! It usually happens to me late at night and I just keep telling myself "one more chapter" until it's 3am and I have to force myself to walk away. Win. And poor Jazz! His dad made him watch the murders? I just want to reach in and hug him and tell him he doesn't have to be the person his dad was. Like you, serial killer stories aren't really my thing, but this one sounds fabulous:)


  2. Tina~ Says:

    Im going to read this one too, I just need to be in the right mood for it....right now I want romance and fun things....so murder is way at the back of the line...LOL

    Super in-depth review..:)


  3. Annette Says:

    I DO like serial killers, and I'm participating in the Serial Killers Reading Challenge. So, this one is on my list. Thanks!


  4. I can't belive that I am just hearing about this one. My inner psychologist is screaming to read this. I have always struggled with the whole nature vs. nuture debate and the topic of serial killers fasinates me, I know, I wrote a whole research paper on it. Anyway your review is excellent and I want to read this. Thanks for the giveaway :)


  5. Yodamom Says:

    I think I'll pass on this one. I am not a fan of life like horrors. I like fantasy, it can't happen stuff. LOL That is a fantastic review.


  6. How have I never heard of this one? When I read the synopsis, I was like "hmm don't think this one is for me." You've changed my mind, Rummanah. I love it when characters are complex and this one seems like it manages to be thought-provoking while also being horrific. I'm adding it to my wishlist!


  7. I'm excited about this one. I love YA that pushes the envelop!


  8. Awesome! I wasn't interested in this book, but your review really makes me pick it up. I like the idea of the serial killer. And Jasper sounds like a wonderfully complex character.


  9. oh i haven't read any of Barry's other books. but they always sound pretty good! Def. want to read this!


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