Monday, July 15, 2013

I Hunt Killers

I Hunt Killers

Lyga, Barry. 2012. I hunt killers. New York: Little Brown.  ISBN 978-0-316-12584-0
Jasper, or Jazz as he prefers to be called is the teen son of a notorious serial killer.  His father taught him how to think like a killer with the intention of Jazz joining the family business.  Now that his father is behind bars Jazz fights to have a conscious and live a normal life.  But how do you unknow how a killer thinks and feels?  Then a body is discovered in a field missing fingers and without any clothes.  Jazz is sure it is a serial killer.  Now he must find a way to work with the police and catch the latest threat to small town Lobo's Nod.

Barry Lyga manages to create a dark and disturbing world which readers will happily immerse themselves.  Jazz is a well thought out and developed character who, due to circumstances beyond his control, does not have a fully developed conscience.  Lyga manages to allow Jazz to be both likable and slightly scary.  Due to the nature of the story and the gruesome plot of dead bodies with missing fingers, it is easy to forget that Jazz is a 17 year old boy.  His insight into the mind of a serial killer due to his fathers teachings makes the character seem much older at times.  However, his social awkwardness and poorly developed internal sense of right and wrong balance out the adult knowledge base and bring him back into the teen realm quite nicely.

There are several secondary and tertiary characters within the novel that act as Jazz's support system.  His best friend and partner in crime Howie is extremely important.  Because of Howie's hemophiliac medical condition he could bleed to death from a simple injury.  The delicate balance which has to be maintained and the control which Jazz must use in his dealings with Howie make Jazz a better person who is more aware of what a small amount of physical damage can do to a person.  Jazz's girlfriend Connie, an African American theater lover, acts as a "jiminy cricket" for Jazz and provides him with the normal perspective on his actions.  Also important for Jazz is Sheriff G. William Tanner.  After catching and putting Jazz's father in jail, the sheriff acts as both a watchman and surrogate father figure for Jazz.

The technical aspects of the book are disturbing but really well researched and act to allow the reader to follow the morbid, murderous aspects of the novel.  The dark twists and turns and surprises which continuously appear are more often found in adult crime fiction than in YA literature.  The combination of a teen protagonist and the adult content of the novel make for an interesting read. 
  • There is a sequel to the novel titled Game
  • I Hunt Killers has been purchased for development as a TV series.

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