I bought this book a few months ago, during one of those big book events where you can buy books for less. As usual, I'd chosen about twelve books or so at first and had to select the ones I really wanted (which is always a difficult progress.) Fortunately, 'I Hunt Killers' made it and had been standing on my bookshelf ever since...Until now!
Title: I Hunt Killers
Author: Barry Lyga
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
What's on the back:
It was a beautiful day. It was a beautiful field.
So as for the review:
I'd never heard of Barry Lyga before - but then again, I have to confess thrillers are not really my scene. I tend to read romance, fantasy, supernatural and contemporary books. However, this one seemed so interesting, I had to give it a go! And interesting it surely was. As it says on the back Japser "Jazz" Dent is the only son of notorious serial killer Billy Dent. And when I say serial killer, I mean serial killer. This Billy guy's offed over 123 people (if we count Jazz' mother too, like Jazz himself does.)
To sum that up: Jazz has a very disturbing dad and an even more disturbing past. He was raised by a sociopath and this has obviously left some nasty mental scars, which is noticable throughout the whole book. For example: Jazz tends to hear Billy's voice in his head pointing out particular things about people and telling him what he should do and how he should act (to be like Dear Old Dad.) So that part was worked out really well - there's (more than) enough attention for Jazz' personal problems.
The plot was pretty good too: fast-paced, though sometimes interrupted by Jazz doubting himself. Overall I enjoyed it, even though I wished Jazz'd gotten over this idea of him being as terrible as his father near the end - it got a bit repetitive. But then his girlfriend showed up and managed to get some sense into the boy (go Connie!)
And did foresee who the bad guy was? (Well, except for Billy that is. That guy is just plain disturbing.) Nope! My suspicions were raised high several times while reading - I even came up with this dr. Jekyll & dr. Hyde theory - but the other bad guy turned out to be someone I didn't expect him to be.
What I really liked:
+ The psychological part of the book about how Jazz coped with the trauma of being brought up by a serial killer. Who gave him lessons. And tried to brainwash him. And made him do things.
+ The main character Jazz. He's just very interesting.
+ Jazz' friends Howie and Connie. Howie is the kind of best friend you could always depend on, no matter what. He'd stay by your side forever, even if your dad turns out to be a monster, he'd still go on nightly hikes with you to do some research work on who the killer is this time round. As for Connie, she's a great girlfriend. And she's black. So this might just be me, but I feel like I read a lot about white people. Like, usually the main character of a YA novel is white (and the story's set in North America.) Of course there are always other characters with different nationalities/origins, but sometimes I think it would be lovely to read about other cultures than our own...I, for one, would love to read a good story that takes place in Asia. Now, back to I Hunt Killers...
+ Billy Dent. I know I've called him disturbing several times already, but at the same time he's the perfect villain. He's so crazy and yet not. He's just...He gives me the creeps.
What I didn't like so much:
- Although I found Jazz an awesome character, at some point I did get frustrated with him and just wanted him to stop making a fuss of being like his father. I mean, he'd just done things his father would never do!
- I didn't totally get the ending. Well, a part of it. How Jazz connected some dots in the ending which never got explained but hey, that could just be me!
In the end I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to explore the thriller genre of YA books and to anyone who likes a book that gives you the creeps but is not feeling up to downright horror.