Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published on April 3, 2012
Source: ARC from bookstore
Content: Publisher recommends for 15 and up.
I can't always predict what will completely creep me out. When I was in high school, I watched every Halloween and Friday the 13th movie. As an adult, I read all the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo books. But I couldn't even get through the first episode of Dexter. Friends of mine loved it; I had to turn it off.
When I read that I Hunt Killers was a must-read for fans of Dexter, I wondered if I should skip it. Then I came across an ARC and decided I should try just a page or two. Or ten. Or a hundred. I loved this book!
My summary: Jasper "Jazz" Dent, son of notorious serial killer Billy Dent, grew up learning the family business (so to speak) at his father's knee, until Billy was apprehended by G. William Tanner, chief of police in tiny Lobo's Nod. Now Jasper is living with his crazy grandma, trying to convince himself that he can start a normal life. That's easier said than done, especially when bodies start turning up around town. Jazz wants to offer G. William his expertise. After all, Jazz understands murder. It's in his DNA. When G. William tells him to butt out, Jazz and his friend Howie start sneaking around, investigating the crimes on their own. Things quickly get a lot more perplexing -- and way more scary.
My take: Where do I begin? This book is awesome: quirky yet complicated characters, black humor, a page-turning mystery plot, and a fascinating undercurrent of inner conflict. I'll take them one by one.
Live Guys! I love YA books with fascinating, psychologically complex male characters. Guys who are not just brooding Love Triangle Fodder, but real guys, complete with flaws, gross-out humor and deeply buried insecurities. More, please!
Gallows humor! Like the scene in which Jazz tells his friend Howie that all the ways laypeople think a killer can dispose of a body are not nearly as effective as advertised. Hannibal Lecter jokes, CSI jokes -- I could go on and on. But I won't. Moving on to...
...the mystery! From the first few pages, I could tell that I was in the hands of an expert storyteller. I just sat back and enjoyed the show. So much, in fact, that the identity of the killer took me completely by surprise. And in a good way, a way that made me smack my head because I couldn't believe I missed it. Bravo!
Mangst! I don't just mean the superficial "does this t-shirt make my biceps look small" kind of mangst. Many of us worry about turning into our parents, but few of us have parents who are serving time for multiple murders. Jazz desperately wants to believe that he is nothing like his father, that he is a person who can have friends and love someone. Like his extremely patient girlfriend, Connie.
The ending! For a while, I was getting worried that, once the killer was apprehended, there would be no chance for a sequel without Lobo's Nod falling prey to the dreaded Cabot Cove Syndrome -- that's when all the residents of a fictional small town don't seem to notice fact that their murder rate is about a thousand times higher than it ought to be. But no -- Barry Lyga nicely solves this problem. Well done!
I will be waiting impatiently for I Hunt Killers II: The Return of Jazz Dent. No, that's not really the name of the next book. But whatever the title, I'm definitely going to read it!
What do you think? Have you read this book? Planning to?
My new "Add to Goodreads" button, so you can easily add this book to your list if you're interested.
I got the idea from Jen M @ Some Like It Paranormal. She's so smart! Not sure where I should put the button. Shoot me a comment if you have an opinion!
I can tell you really enjoyed this book Jen, and this review might be my favorite that you have written so far, really:) I learned two new phrases today "Mangst" and "Cabot Cove Syndrome" (that is my fave because Holy cow, did I ever watch some Murder She Wrote episodes w/ my mom when I was growing up!) This book just moved to the top of my 'to read' pile because I love all the elements you highlighted!ReplyDelete
Me too! My mom was obsessed with that show!Delete
The word mangst just makes me giggle. I'm immature....
Dude!! This book sounds freaking awesome!! I think this is a must read for me. You know how I love my mystery books!!ReplyDelete
I think you will love it!!!!!!!Delete
I almost bought this book yesterday. I think I will now! I had no idea that it was about that. Sound like you really enjoyed it ;)ReplyDelete
I just thought it was about scary serial killers, which it kinda is, but if you are afraid of scary serial killers, you will still like it.Delete
I LOVE the add to goodreads button. I like seeing it underneath the cover, but I think it works at the end of a review, too. I'm so glad you liked this one! I seriously loved it! So good! Barry Lyga is one awesomely skilled writer and yes, omgomgomg, the ending!!! I am anxiously waiting for book two.ReplyDelete
I think I'm leaving it at the end because I can't figure out how to make it open the link in a new window and I want people to read the review first before hitting the button.....Delete
Love the Add to Goodreads button. Definitely a lot easier than hunting for the book yourself. Thank you for adding that.ReplyDelete
Glad you like it. I saw it on Jen's blog and thought, this is genius!Delete
Lol yep totally perfect.Delete
This book sounds so good! I love mysteries and this one sounds so unique. Great review! :)ReplyDelete
I loved it!!Delete
Okay, okay, I'm adding it to my TBR!! LOL!! I'm so glad you ended up liking this one. Great review Jen! Oh and thanks for adding the Goodreads button!ReplyDelete
Anything to make your lives easier. Just ask!!!Delete
One question about the Goodreads button, is there a way to have it open in a separate window so it doesn't leave your page? Just curious! :-)ReplyDelete
Not that I can figure out right now. Which is why I put it at the bottom. But I'm on it!!!Delete
I added this to my to-read list when I saw you reading it. I'm a big fan of Dexter so I thought I would like it. Sounds like something Dexter's son will one day go through. I also love mystery and tracking down killers. Also love the button ;-) They are handy!ReplyDelete
Thanks for all your help!!Delete
I just won a copy of this from a blog contest and can't wait to read it! I think it will arrive tomorrow, so your review was justin time to make me anxiously awaiting the mail when I get home from work. Loved your review; I hope I like the book as much as you did!ReplyDelete
Hope you love it! Let me know!!!Delete
End of posts look good to me about the button..ReplyDelete
Why thanks. I agree!Delete
I've been waiting for this review. I am the kind of person who tapes Dexter then watches it in broad daylight. I think I had better read I HUNT KILLERS during the day too.ReplyDelete
Ha ha ha!!! That's me, all the way. Then I peek through my fingers, get up and pace around.Delete
I couldn't get through the first episode of Dexter, either!!! It really sounds like a cool show, but I just couldn't watch! Although I did love American Psycho (the movie - haven't read the book) and I've heard I Hunt Killers is for fans of Dexter and American Psycho. So it went on the TBR list. I'm glad you liked it so much! That means that hopefully I'll be able to enjoy it as well! Great review, Jen!ReplyDelete
I think American Psycho is one of the most disturbing books I ever read. Did not see the movie.Delete
But try this book out. I thought Jazz -- and all the male characters-- was fantastic!
I am soo excited for this one! I saw the above comment about American Psycho...I loved that book! It was totally disturbing but an awesome read. Hopefully this will be as good!ReplyDelete
Well, thankfully IHK is not so horribly gruesome!Delete
Let me know what you think -- I hope you love it as much as I did!