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I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (2012)
I Hunt Killers (2012)
by Barry Lyga
Hardcover Edition
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
buy a copy via Amazon.
synopsis via 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?

My Thoughts:
Barry Lyga almost had me in an heart attack with I Hunt Killers–and he didn’t even inject me with Drano. The suspense was gripping, and a refreshing (although terrifying) addition to Young Adult horror. Lyga attempts to explore the complexity of serial killers, a teenager trying to find himself, while delivering a thrilling mystery with a huge chunk of suspense thrown in. And also a lot of blood. I’m trembling to read what else Lyga has up his sleeves.

I’ve read a review that claimed I Hunt Killers was not suitable for Young Adult because of the gore and rape descriptions. There were a few “horrific” references, but they were so MILD–gleaned over with brevity. Compared to the complex death traps in novels I’ve read–this is nothing. It’s obvious the gore was toned down several notches to fit the YA genre–to the point where I was thinking, “Wait, that’s it?!? how is that even considered horrific?” The humor also helped balance out the dark with light, so you will get a few chuckles to relax those tense muscles.
My favorite (and arguably funniest–though it also makes me feel twisted for laughing) quotation: “‘Did your father ever tell you her last words? I just want to know.’…Was this man insane? Did he have any idea–any idea at all–what the likely answer to that question was? That the odds favored her last words being something like Ohgodpleasenojesuspleasenonononoooooooooo!

This is where much of the story fell for me. None of the characters were fleshed out for me to relate to them–not even Jasper.

I expected a lot more depth out of him. I wasn’t convinced that he was “twisted,” rather I kept thinking he wanted to think of himself as twisted to have a pity party. I wanted a big of backstory to how he sorted out his morals anyway; did he wake up one day going like “I had a revelation! My dad is wrong because an angel told me so!”? The first half of the novel was so hard to get through because of this guy moping around going “oh no! I was brainwashed by my dad! I have morbid thoughts, oh no..I could’ve done all these things to save these people but I didn’t. oh no…I’m dangerous…” And when he wasn’t moping, he was being a cocky 17-year old with a gigantic ego who thinks he is smarter than the police. I had a hard time suspending my disbelief right off the bat since the idea of a 17 year old being consulted by the police, and leading his own “investigation” was just so absurd. And police officers are oddly all pretty useless (as they generally are in mysteries.)

Jazz’s girlfriend. Thank God she is there to slap Jazz back in place. Girl actually has sense. Though I am a bit disappointed that she’s black but doesn’t display an accent in her speech, making her voice falling flat. Or am I just being stereotypical?

Jasper’s best friend, right hand man, and basically comic relief. His presence seems more of hindrance than anything–especially since he is a weakling. However, I would prefer him over Jazz any day for his friendly demeanor. He is always read with a bad joke. He is also surprisingly brave for a 17 year–not many can be within 20 feet of a corpse for friend.

Billy/ “Dear Old Dad”:
The most intriguing character. He might be a serial killer of 124, but he is a whole lot more interesting than Jasper. He is confident about his character, and despite his twisted ways I think he does care for his son–in his own way.

I can’t say the reveal was a total surprise. Though I was hoping for someone more unexpected, like Jasper to have some split personality (wishful thinking).

The ending left me with a lot of questions, and also opens up plot holes I hope get filled in the sequel. I look forward to seeing how Lyga tackles it!

Overall, I Hunt Killers mixed with just the right parts of dark and light, and a novel I won’t soon forget. However, the lack of depth in characters and the absurdity of many situations often left me in disbelief and disappointment. I definitely recommend this novel to young horror, suspense lovers–and for the faint-hearted, just be sure to keep the lights on!

Rating: B–
The sequel will be coming out in Spring 2013 according to Barry’s website, just enough time for me to fully recovered from I Hunt Killers and be ready to get scared out of my wits again.

Spoilery Thoughts I Need to Get Out of My System
If Jazz was so familiar with his father’s victim list, surely he must’ve looked up their background (and pictures of their family as well, right?) Oh wells, that explains his regret for not Googling. But still, the guy didn’t need to disguise himself…he might as well claim to be a distant relative who shared a close relationship to the victim instead.
If they knew initials and ages of the future victims-they should just broadcast it on the news and have all people that fit the criteria go on a trip halfway across the world or something.
So the killer left the toe ring on purpose to be found? And how is he so sure the police wouldn’t find it first?
What would he have done if Jasper met him? And why did he defy his orders?
What’s up with the reporter dude anyway–was he only there to be a suspect?
Ever head of installing security cameras, or at least an eyehole–especially when you have crazy paparazzi stalking you? You’d think the former house of a serial killer would have tighter security (or at least a better lock) in case people come hunting you down.
How is it so hard to keep a serial killer locked up anyway? Gosh, police officers are REALLY that useless?
No idea why Jazz asks his father for help…because he was too stupid?