Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

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IHuntKillersI Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (Little, Brown & Co., 2012)

 

Blurb: What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?


Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.


But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal’s point of view.


And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.


In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

 

I was really hoping to like this book because I’d heard so many positive things about it. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. While the premise is intriguing, the quality of the writing and the reliance on clichés ensured that the book didn’t live up to its promise.

Jazz Dent is almost 18. His father, a notorious serial killer, is now in jail, and Jazz lives with his (increasingly unstable) grandmother. He spends his days avoiding the social worker who wants to put him in foster care and trying to reassure himself that although he may well be a sociopath (officially he can’t be diagnosed until he turns 18), he isn’t a killer. This becomes increasingly difficult as his dreams—memories?—seem to be telling him this is a line he might have already crossed. Then suddenly there’s a series of murders in Jazz’s town, and since he has Keen Insight into the Criminal Mind, he takes it upon himself to investigate the murders and badger local law enforcement until he is officially made a part of the investigation.

And this is where we get into the clichés: the flashbacks that seem to indicate Jazz is a murderer—or do they?; the missing mother, likely one of his father’s victims (although, this being a series, I’d be stunned if she doesn’t show up at some point in a future book); the safe girlfriend who shows that he may be capable of Real Feelings; the best friend who provides comic relief and the vehicle for Parental Disapproval.

Add to this some major info dump about serial killers—yes, I get that this is a YA book, but teenagers are capable of grasping information the first time it’s provided, and this book was all about repetition, especially when it came to Jazz’s “inner turmoil,” by which I mean whining. I don’t usually mind being inside a character’s head, but this was just too much of the same thing, again and again: Oh no what if I’m evil? I have been shaped to be a super serial killer and all I think about is killing and not killing! It’s exactly the wrong combination of self-awareness and teen angst for me.

 

My rating: 2 stars

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