Review: I hunt killers by Barry Lyga

  • Title: I hunt killers
  • Author: Barry Lyga
  • Genre: Crime
  • Series: Yes Book 1
  • Available in the library: Yes

We have two reviews for this title:

i-hunt-killers-final

First Sentence: By the time Jazz got to the field outside town, yellow police tape was everywhere, strung from stake to stake in a sort of drunken, off-kilter hexagon.

Reviewed by Declan McKay.

I Hunt Killers, written by Barry Lyga, is a particularly gruesome book. It is centred on Jasper “Jazz” Dent and his almost superhuman homicidal skills. These skills, combined with brutal memories of his father, make him a psychotically persistent protagonist. This blood-filled page turner is breath of fresh air for the teen fiction market – it doesn’t contain a single spy, footy player or the mafia! This is the most original and interesting book I think I’ve read since The Hunger Games, even though I believe Barry Lyga may need to see a psychiatrist after writing such a gore- filled book. However, the violence is nothing compared to the content of some video-games, Matthew Reilly’s Scarecrow or even some of the images anti-factory farming groups are putting on TV or the newspaper. This is a great book for an older teen and should be on the must read list for everyone but the faint-hearted. It would probably appeal to quite sophisticated readers and is probably a guys’ book.

Reviewed by Ms. Powling.

It was a beautiful day. It was a beautiful field. Except for the body. So begins a story that I must admit reminds me a bit of the “Dexter” stories.

Jasper, known to his family and friends as Jazz, is a likable teenager. He can be quite the charmer, and very persuasive, when he wants to be.  He is also the son of the America’s most infamous serial killer, Billy Dent, a man so prolific, and over such a long time, that he had several nicknames before he was caught. Jazz’s memories are glimpses of his father sharing his horrible deeds with him, trying to make him a “chip-off the old block” and a perfect killer in his own right. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could – from the criminals’ point of view. Jazz, however, is not like him. He does not want to kill people or so he tells himself but he has a niggling doubt (or fear) that maybe, somewhere buried deep within him, he might just be more like Dad. He regularly second guesses his own motives for the way he behaves or reacts to people.

At the start of the story Dad has been in jail for years and Jazz is living with his crazy, violent, racist and frail grandmother. Jazz is doing all he can to live a normal life. Howie, his loyal best friend, is a haemophiliac and he has a black girlfriend named Connie. They help keep him on an even keel. Everything changes when a new body is found. The local sheriff, a good guy who has helped to protect Jazz since his father was arrested, does not want to hear what Jazz has to say. Jazz believes that a new serial killer has begun working in the sleepy town of Lobo’s Nod. However, after a second body is found, and in an effort to prove murder doesn’t run in the family, Jazz is allowed to join the police in the hunt for this new serial killer.

This is a good thriller about a teenager trying to control his own destiny in the face of overwhelming odds. The character of Jazz is a complex one but the reader can relate to him as he struggles to sort through his memories and his experiences growing up. He is trying to find his own path, no matter what others may think or how his Dad tried to brainwash him. As all teenagers do, he has to find his own way.

The question of nature vs. nurture forms an interesting background thread through this dark, but not depressing, book. It is not always a comfortable read and there are unanswered questions at the end of the story that leave enough of interest for a sequel.

What now?

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