Friday, March 15, 2013

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Release date: April 3, 2012
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 361
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
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?
I don't know how well I've portrayed this, since I can't recall a time that I've talked about it on here or on Twitter or anything, but I have an unhealthy fascination with serial killers--the macabre in general, really. It's not that I'd ever even want to meet one, honestly, but the psyche is something I find compelling to read about. I even wrote a research paper on Jack the Ripper in high school. We can't understand just how these people do what they do, how they plan the deaths of numerous people with deep care, devoid of emotion. So going into I Hunt Killers, I was excited, to say the least. We don't think of the family of a killer, but only of the killer themselves. How does growing up under the tutelage of a master killer affect a child? That, in a large part, is what is explored in the book.

I Hunt Killers is definitely a scary read. I generally read at night before I go to sleep, and several nights I had to do something else before I could think of turning out the light because I was so freaked out by the book. The book begins immediately with a dead body and only picks up from there, with the deaths getting gorier and the descriptions getting more in depth. The freakiest parts, to me, lie in the narration from the killer's view and every bit with Billy. The calm calculation there calls to mind Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs. It's not for the faint of heart, but it is definitely compelling.

Aside from the gore and psychopaths, we are treated to some truly great relationships between Jasper and his best friend, Howie, and his girlfriend, Connie. Jazz works day in and day out to appear normal to everyone around him, everyone but these two. The love between him and Howie is really what grounds Jasper to me; if someone can love another person that deeply, they can't possibly be all that bad, even when Jazz thinks the opposite of himself. These relationships--along with the humorous parts of the narration from Jazz--are also what keep the book from getting too dark. Howie is just pure fun, comic relief and Connie is pragmatic and to the point.

It's easy to compare Jasper Dent to Dexter Morgan, and I believe a lot have. I thought the same thing as I was reading, but I've come to a different conclusion with more thought. Dexter is compelling because he's trying to fit in as a normal human being, even when he knows he's messed up and different from experience. He's charming and charismatic because he has to be in order to keep up the lifestyle he believes he needs. But Jasper is trying to fight what he desperately doesn't want to become. He's not accepting fate, instead he's doing the complete opposite. He's telling himself people are worthwhile and forming true bonds, all to become what he wants to be, not what he believes he's destined to be. And that is why he's a great, great character and why you should read I Hunt Killers.

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