Friday, July 17, 2015

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

7766027This review was written by: B
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: April 2012
Pages: 359 (Hardcover)
Stars: 5/5

"No way," Jazz shivered at the thought of it.  "The last thing you want in this world is to show weakness to him.  Never.  I can never go see him.  Just doing it would give him the upper hand.  You show any weakness to a serial killer and they live inside you after that."
"He's already living inside of you," she (Connie) whispered in a tone of regret.  "Because you can't let go."
 -I Hunt Killers

Jasper, more commonly known as Jazz, had the childhood of nightmares.  His father, Billy Cornelius Dent, was the world's worst serial killer.  As a result, Billy frequently subjected his son to blood and death beginning at a tender age.  The man could hardly contain himself when it came to his ever deepening passion and thriving love for murder, showing Jazz all there was to know about being a living grim reaper.

This dysfunctional family lived in the little town of Lobo's Nod, and Billy always took to the idea of never murdering in the same place as where he lived.  However, he could no longer contain himself after years of following his own personal law and finally gave in, taking two local women's lives.  These little mistakes led to Billy's inevitable capture by the sheriff who drove himself crazy looking for this madman.  Locked up for the manslaughter of over one hundred and twenty victims, Billy Cornelius Dent was to never harm another living soul as long as he lived.

Four years later, teenage Jazz is still living in Lobo's Nod as he attempts to live a normal life.  He stays with his crazy grandmother who sometimes believes that Jazz is Billy himself, or she sees Jazz as the disgusting result of a marriage she never consented to between Jazz and his supposedly horrible mother, spewing Jasper with cruel comments for him to soak in.  His best friend is a hemophiliac, and the whole town looks at Jazz as if he's going to explode and go on a murder spree at any second.  Jazz has no intention of turning into his father, though.  Sure, he still has everything his father ever taught him locked inside his head, ready for use, but he can't stand to let himself become a monster.  He doesn't want to use his charm, wits, and charisma to become a "god of murder."

Then dead bodies start to show up in Lobo's Nod once again.  It can't be Billy because hes' been locked up for four years.  This leaves Jazz as the lone suspect despite his innocence.  As a result, Jazz makes it his mission to help hunt down the new serial killer in town.  He wants to prove to Lobo's Nod and its inhabitants that he isn't a killer and that he won't turn into one, either.  Perhaps, he wants to prove to himself that he isn't murderer, that Dear Old Dad didn't ruin him after all.  Whatever the case is, he has the mind of a serial killer, giving him the ultimate advantage when it comes to investigating a crime scene.  So, whether the cops like it or not, they need his help if they want to stop the constant black plague of death.

Does Jazz's past become his present?  Will he turn into the perfect serial killer that his father always wanted him to be?  Or does he prove everyone wrong?  Was Jazz molded into a more perfect killing machine than Billy could have ever imagined?  Can he actually fight what he might really be inside?  Or is Jazz destined to fall into the dark recesses of his worst nightmares?

The dice had already been tossed, the cards shuffled and drawn.  He was what he was, whether he knew it yet or not.  Maybe he was just a guy with a crazy dad, like other kids with crazy dads.
Or maybe he was something else.
                          -I Hunt Killers

My Thoughts:
I was never into contemporary murder mysteries, thrillers, or suspense novels until reading Lyga's I Hunt Killers.  Now I can proudly say that I've become rather intrigued with these genres.  However, I have yet to come across a YA book in these categories that measures up to this bad boy.  The characters, the plot, the background, and the demented thought processes, all make for one blood-tingling, heart attacking inducing novel that can easily be read over and over again.

Seeing into the mind of a serial killer is . . . dare I say . . . gripping . . . and engrossing.  Plus, this book has a mindset of its own.  It's daring and disturbing, bold and creepy.  Perhaps it can even be described as alarmingly unsettling.  Your sanity may be questioned by the end of it.  One minute you'll be laughing out loud, and the next you'll be gasping out of horror.  Lyga has a real talent for smoothly switching between light and dark moods with the scariest of ease.  It almost feels effortless.

Jazz's mind is that one no sane person possibly wants to live with, let alone see into.  There's this tortured, brooding side to him that's always trying to overwhelm the good in him.  On top of that, Billy's chilling voice and bloodcurdling advice is constantly swirling around in his head, meaning that he can never escape the man who raised him . . . even if Billy is miles and miles away, locked behind concrete, metal, and impenetrable cell doors.  Jazz can't escape.  However, no matter how dark his thoughts got, I never stopped seeing the good in him or doubted what he would do.  I loved that about this book.  It questions the good and evil in the world.  It makes you seriously wonder about the whole nature verses nurture argument you never hear the end of in science class.  Are we our own persons or do our parents define us?  This is Jazz's struggle.

Another character I loved was Connie, Jazz's girlfriend.  She's strong, independent, bold, and downright sassy.  Between her and the ever comical Howie, this book has the perfect blend of laughs and heart.

The plot was fast-paced, entertaining, absorbing, and one heck of a ride.  There were twists and turns that I was not prepared to go on, but I loved every single second of it.  Thank goodness people who are just discovering this series are lucky enough that the trilogy is already fully released!

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