Book Review: I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga

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WOW!!! It took me awhile to finish, but when I finally had time and completed it… definitely wasn’t what I was expecting.

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7766027Genre: Young Adult, Triller, Crime
Publish Date:
April 3rd 2012
Synopsis: 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 couldβ€”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 secretβ€”could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

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I wasn’t really sure what I was in for when I picked this book up, honestly I selected it due to the title…and the whole child of a serial killer theme. Very superficial reasons, but I’m so glad it turned out so much better than I expected!

What worked for me:

Jazz, as a character was incredibly engaging. While the story was told in a third person point of view, most of it was from his perspective and was done in a very realistic and believable manner. There was never a point where I thought he was out of character nor did he act in anyway which had me questioning his age or character. While, he was intelligent he was still a teenager, therefore many of his choices and emotional outburst just made sense. I’m sure all of us remember how difficult it is being a teenager; imagine being one which has something to prove to the whole world. His insistent of helping the cops out when he sensed there was a serial killer active in his town was just the thing to help him prove that he was nothing like ‘Dear Old Dad’.

“He would confront his own past and see what impact it had on him. If any. Maybe it would have no impact. Or maybe it would have the right kind of impact. Prove something to the world, and to himself.”

Howie, oh dear Howie. I adore this kid! A hemophilia side-kick and best friend, with an amazing sense of humor and a wonderful sense of loyalty towards a friend who was not exactly the town favorite. While the book has a dark nature, it is still a young adults book, therefore there are lots of hilarious hijinks which the two pulls off, and their conversation are incredibly amusing to read.

“You can’t rush my creative genius,” Howie said, “with your quotidian worries”
Quotidian? Seriously?”
“I would have said mundane, but that word is so…mundane.”

Howie is probably the most vulnerable and fragile character in the book, the easiest target for Jazz if he was really into practicing his impulses, but as Jazz puts it:

“…it’s just that his trust for Howie bordered on psychotic.”

Their friendship is just adorable and their conversations were hilarious!

The whole debate on ‘nature vs nurture‘ totally perked my interesting, its something Jazz tries to fight throughout the whole book – trying to prove he is not like his father. Rather than gore and grizzly murder scenes, we get quite a lot of internal conflicts and psychological insights mostly from Jazz’s point of view. These are quite vivid and incredibly well portrayed in the book – the voices and the flashbacks really keeps you on your toes and gives a vivid insight of the internal conflict Jazz has with himself, and the dark and horrible upbringing he has had.

“It’s not that I want to or don’t want to. It’s just…I can. I could. It’s like…I imagine it’s like being a great runner. If you knew you could run really fast, wouldn’t you? If you were struck walking somewhere, wouldn’t you want to let loose and run like hell? That’s how I feel.”

He knows what he could do, if he lets his upbringing and instincts take him. Yet, he holds his impulses in check and tells himself thats not what’s normal, and that it’s not right. It is quite amazing how hard he worked to keep his impulses in check after all:

“…like the children of alcoholics and the victims of abuse, Jazz had been a master at compartmentalizing. That, combined with Billy’s persistent brainwashing and total control, meant Jazz had never uttered a peep to anyone.”

Although, I’ve taken an Intro to Psychology in high school, I know very little about psychology but this book definitely helps educate your by putting you in the mind of someone struggling with a difficult situation. It isn’t as simple as to just decide to do the right thing; rather it is a constant fight which what you think is suppose to be natural to you and what is natural to everyone else. Jazz is highly aware of his surroundings and other’s reactions, he makes his decisions and controls his reactions to those around him. One can only imagine how exhausting living such a life could be.

What didn’t work for me:

Parts which were from the Impressionist’s POV. I know sometimes books do it to draw out the intrigue, give you a taste of what the killer is seeing, feeling and doing. But it draws me out from the whole hunt, and honestly the Impressionist didn’t do much for me.

Jazz’s relationship with the cops. Okay this seems weird since the story is centered around Jazz trying to help them catch a serial killer. But honestly there’s really VERY little cooperations going on. Rather its just Jazz pushing his way through forcing them to hear his findings, and only when all shit hits the fan do they “accept” him; and even then I don’t really see it as much of a cooperation since his only connection to him is through G. Williams, the town sheriff. This part seemed a little flimsy but I’ll bite just for the sake of the story.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting from a YA thriller, and in some sense exceeded my expectation. There was definitely a lot more depth than I had originally expected. It just took me a little bit more time to get into it.

Would I recommend this? Yes, if you’re interested in YA, and into mystery and thrillers, definitely pick this one up. The story is from a very refreshing perspective, and therefore made for an interesting read.

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Have you read the book? What did you think about it? Do you agree or perhaps you disagree with my view? Would you give this book a try? Would love to hear from you!

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The photograph used in the banner was taken by Jilbert Ebrahimi, and taken from Unsplash.

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