Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga YP FIC LYGA

I Hunt Killers is the first in the Jasper Dent Series by Barry Lyga. Jasper "Jazz" Dent, age 17, lives in the small town of Lobo's Nod, and he is the son of the most prolific serial killer in the United States, Billy Dent. Billy Dent had killed 124 people before the sheriff of Lobo's Nod, G. William, caught him, and Billy is now in jail with many, many, many life sentences. Jazz was taught many useful skills (for a serial killer) by his father, and he has to keep telling himself (over and over and in many different ways), that he will not become the monster that he knows his father is (and to silence the voice of his father that is often talking in his mind). His father even had Jazz help with several of his victims, and Jazz, like many of the people that surround him day to day (and don't trust him), wonders how he could have let what was going on happen for so long. I personally think it was a little bit of self preservation (of body and mind) and mind control by a charming sociopath. Jazz also keeps his friend Howie, a much more delicate boy with hemophilia, as a check on his behavior, and Howie keeps Jazz from going off the deep end when it comes to his obsession with serial killers. Jazz's girlfriend, Connie, is unafraid to call Jazz out on his behavior, and she loves him even while he is unsure that she should (Howie and Connie are wonderful characters, by the way).

One thing that Jazz is sure of, though, is that he understands serial killers in a way that the police could never try to, and when a rash of murders start happening in Lobo's Nod, Jazz decides that he needs to help G. William in whatever way he can, even if G. William would rather keep Jazz far away from the case. As the body count starts to climb, though, G. William is prepared to catch the killer by any means possible. This is my one issue with the story. I know that police want to catch a serial killer as quickly as they possibly can, but I do not see them ever being okay with using a 17-year-old as a consultant (even as knowledgeable as Jazz is with the subject). Whatever my feelings, though, Jazz does play a pivotal part in the investigation.

I had a hard time deciding if I liked Jazz. I felt so very sorry for him for all the damage that was done to his psyche when he was a young child and adolescent, but at the same time, as you listen to him explain his need to manipulate other people to get what he needs, you have a hard time liking him as a person. I do cheer Jazz on in his fight to not become like his father, though, and with the surprise ending, it will be interesting to see where he goes in the next book in the series, Game, which comes out this month.

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