Saturday, November 17, 2012

Book Review: I Hunt Killers

I recently read I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga.  This book is WAY out of my usual comfort zone.  I generally try to avoid anything that I think will give me bad dreams, and wow, this one had me utterly horrified even while I was awake.  But a group of YA afficionados through my library master's program read it and raved about it, and I've seen so many other blogs praising it as THE big thing right now, that I simply had to give it a try.

I Hunt Killers definitely did not disappoint.  The entire book was a little like watching a car accident--in the best possible way, meaning I simply could not force myself to look away, no matter how horrifying it was.

The premise of the book is this: 17-year-old Jasper "Jazz" Dent is a troubled young man.  Which is understandable, considering that he was raised by the world's most notorious serial killer--his father, Billy Dent.  During his "career," Billy killed over 120 people.  He also spent that timing grooming Jasper to carry on the "family business."  Jazz can remember being as young as 7 years old and being taken along to crime scenes with his father.  His father tutored him, in detail, on every aspect of murder, from selecting a "prospect," to breaking into their home, to torture and rape, to the actual killing, to how to cover it up afterwards.

When I Hunt Killers starts, Billy has been in prison for about four years, but he is still an ever-present voice in Jazz's mind.  Jazz struggles to be a "normal kid," whatever that means, but he can't seem to help seeing the world through Billy's eyes.  And then a dead body turns up in a field outside Jazz's town.  Jazz is convinced that it's the work of a serial killer, but the local police don't agree.  So Jazz launches his own investigation, hoping to prove to both himself and the people around him that he can use the skills that Billy taught him for good.

Reading this book was like being inside the head of a serial killer--because, after all, Jazz has all the same thoughts and skills as killers; he just hasn't killed anyone (yet).  It was very real and very, very scary.  At one point while I was reading it, I made a trip to the grocery store.  With every man that passed me in the aisles or made eye contact with me at all, I freaked out a little bit inside and thought, "Oh my gosh, what if he's a killer and regards me as a prospect?"  Scary, scary stuff.

In the end, I'm almost distressed to admit that I loved this book.  Immediately after finishing it, I went to Barry Lyga's website, where I was able to link to his prequel short story ("Career Day") and find out about the upcoming sequel, Game.  So while I Hunt Killers utterly terrified me, the character of Jasper himself was so likable, so fascinating, that I think I'm with this series for the long haul.  I Hunt Killers definitely isn't for everyone, but if you like scary books or psychological thrillers, definitely check it out.

No comments:

Post a Comment