Critique | I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (Spoiler-Free)

Let me start off this review by stating that this book was about a million miles outside of my comfort zone. (If only I’d read it before I did the TTT a week or two ago. Damn.) It was deeply disturbing at some points, and I have to applaud Billy Lyga because the main character, Jazz, is an extremely likeable and believable character. Just a quick back story; Jazz’s father is the world’s most infamous serial killer and his [Jazz, or Jasper] childhood was basically spent learning how to become one. Now, his father is in prison, and Jazz is living with his senile Grandmother in Lobo’s Nod trying to live a normal life. That is, until bodies start showing up and Jazz is convinced that there’s a new serial killer in town.

I liked how real and complex Jazz read. There’s constant psychological torment we see throughout the book and he struggles with the fact that he is his father’s son. Jazz wants to do good and prove that he’s nothing like his father, but fights with himself because he knows how to hurt people and is afraid that one day, he will. I’m actually surprised that Jazz can be (ar at least pretend to be) as normal as he is. As a child, Jazz’s father was his hero and Jazz himself was extremely susceptible to the ways his father was showing him. It wouldn’t surprise me, or it didn’t surprise me, that his father’s teachings affected him more than he would’ve liked to believe. He doesn’t remember his full childhood and we only get the bits and pieces that he does. This being said, I can’t help but wonder how much Jazz is repressing and if/how this will affect him in future books.

In other reviews I’ve read, people have said that his book had them laughing, and I have no idea what they’re talking about. Granted, there were parts with Howie that kind of made me chuckle, but those parts were far and few between. I found myself cringing through a lot of this book because the “lessons” that Jasper remembers are so vivid. I did enjoy Howie and Connie and I really think they’re great anchors to keep Jazz grounded and on the straight and narrow. There was one part of the book where Connie told Jazz to stop throwing himself a pity party and make a decision on whether or not he’s going to act on his “urges.” I loved this part. I felt the same way she did, even if I couldn’t relate to what Jazz was going through and have no clue what it’s like growing up with a father like his.

I really enjoyed the plot. I thought I had it figured out, but it turns out that I was just as fooled as everyone else was in the book. Which is scary. That just further reiterated the fact that serial killers can be anyone and put on a facade that makes them appear as normal as the next guy. It was interesting to hear stuff from both sides of the story. As Jazz helped the cops, we got to see what work they put into things and kind of how that whole side of it worked, but we also got a glimpse into the mind of a serial killer thanks to Jazz and his knowledge and the short POVs from the killer’s perspective.

This book was nothing like I had expected. I was thinking that it’d be more like a nancy drew novel or something, but it wasn’t. It was so much more than that. I would definitely recommend this book if you like dark stories that make you think. I haven’t decided if I’m continuing the series (and this truly comes from my weak stomach), but I think I might, because that ending left me wanting more. It’s going to be quite the ride!

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