Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

28 June, 2012 Reviews 16 comments

Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry LygaI Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
Series: Jasper Dent #1
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on April 3rd 2012
Pages: 359
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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?

Well, hello there fellow book-a-holics!

Today I am wearing my bitter disappointment hat. I really am. I feel so incomprehensibly meh about the whole experience of reading this book. This is, as far as I’m aware, a very rare kind of book. A catch the killer thriller that does not have an adult protagonist. It’s a YA title, it’s marketed as a YA title. I love these types of thrillers, they’re a guilty pleasure. So why didn’t I love this?

The only real reason that I can think is that it tried too hard. It tried too hard to step up to the plate and play with Darkly Dreaming Dexter, The Bone Collector and Messiah (all of which are adult novels in this broad genre) and it was weighed, measured, and found very wanting. It almost built up atmosphere and then it destroyed them whiny teenage angst, which I will get to in bit. It tried to have shocking revelations at the end of it but, and I mean this 100%, if people watch CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Dexter, or read any novels in this genre… then they will see them coming a mile off.

My biggest peeve though was the protagonist. Our anti-hero in this tale, because I am fairly sure that that is what Mr Lyga was aiming for, is a whiny, self obsessed asshat of a man. I know he is written to be a sociopath, I know he is meant to be dark and manipulative but he had the depth of a puddle, the appeal of a toad and was about as charming as piece of road kill. On the back of the book it is blurbed that he is “a more chillingly charming protagonist than Dexter Morgan”. I’m sorry but no. He isn’t. For one thing Dexter literally fakes every single emotional response, and Jazz feels but he plays people. That does not make him more chillingly charming than Dexter Morgan at all.

He is constantly whinging about how hard he finds it not to kill any and every person he is close to… yet he never actually does anything to show that he actually could kill anyone if he were given the chance… AND HE WAS! MULTIPLE TIMES! Ifyou’re going whinge for 350 someodd pages about these desires to kill and how easy it would be then please, actually make the effort to kill something or someone.

There were numerous revelations in the book that weren’t actually at all revealing. They confirmed what the could figure out from the blurb, which royally irritated me – Yeah there is practically a spoiler on the blurb of the book, and from paying attention to what they were reading. It’s not that hard to figure out the glaringly obvious.

And to be perfectly honest some of the writing and research was either done in Switzerland or overly religious it was so peppered with holes. Both in the psychology used by Jazz to manipulate people, even his girlfriend, who is apparently safe because she’s black. (And I was saddened to read that because it confirms in my mind that going out of your way to be none racist… is the new racist.) If it was any other book and the male protagonist “exploded” and threatened to kill his girlfriend… for about the 8th or 9th time… then there would a big to-do. But because he’s some tormented teen we’re meant to accept it and let it slide? Nah I’m sorry that’s never OK, he says he loves her but he could kill her? Fuck off… then when you get to where you fuck off to… Fuck off some more.

But in spite of everything that irritated me about the book I like the way all of the threads of story were neatly tied in a bow at the end. I liked the idea that there was more to the story than was written on the page; well I would be because what was on the page wasn’t great. I liked the note that the killer had, I liked the tattoo idea. And most of all I liked that it left it open for, what I predict, will be an evolutionary sequel, which, as I am glutton for punishment, I shall probably read. I would read this book again but I wouldn’t go into it expecting great things. This is one title where I’m not 100% sure that the hype and adoration is really deserved.

Happy reading all…




Reviewer at Cuddlebuggery
Archer is a scouser currently residing in Australia, yes he does realise that he is about as far from home as it is possible to get. He enjoys reading anything that can hold his attention for more than the first chapter and he doesn't really care what genre it is either. Reading has been something he has done since he was a child and it is still, in his mind, one of the best ways to kill time. Outside of reading and writing book reviews, Archer is a serious gamer and he reviews the games he plays when he gets a chance. He is also a very keen amateur photographer, an enthusiastic cook and enjoys spending time watching films and essentially trying not to stress. Find him on GoodReads.

16 Responses to “Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga”

  1. Lisa (Fic Talk)

    Hey Archer, great review!

    You’re actually the first person I’ve seen who didn’t like this book
    so much or rate it highly.

    Taking your review into consideration as well.

    This is on my tbr-list but I’m not exactly rushing to read it.

    • Archer

      @Lisa (Fic Talk): Thanks Lisa. Yeah definitely go for it if it is something that interests you. I do think it ended very well for what was written. And I’ll read the sequel when it’s out at some point… but I won’t rush to it.

  2. Donna @ Bites

    Welcome, Archer! It’s great to see more menfolk in the book blogging world!

    I know of Dexter but I haven’t read the books or watched the series and I’m not a CSI/NCIS/YMCA watcher either so for me this book really stood out, mainly because it’s so drastically different from what’s being published in YA right now. Bonus points in my book. And of course you can’t have YA without angst. That’s like having a murder mystery without the murder. I liked the creep factor but I do agree that the whole “I can KEEEL you” moments were a bit grating. Shit or get off the pot, kid. Indoctrination and all of that but you’re right, he didn’t really have urges. He didn’t pick frogs apart or anything. He just had thoughts I think more because he thought he was supposed to have them moreso than because he naturally had them.
    Donna @ Bites recently posted…And the winners are . . .My Profile

    • Archer

      @Donna @ Bites: Exactly. He isn’t going to be a killer the way that his dad or the killer of the book was. That doesn’t mean to say that he couldn’t feasibly kill in the future but this ultimately, to me anyway, felt like it tried too hard to be a gritty thriller but missed the mark. But I am possibly jaded by the fact that I’ve read a lot of them lol

  3. BarkLessWagMore

    This is why I read reviews. This is a book I would’ve picked up based on the blurb and the premise and I would’ve been very disappointed from the sounds of things. Maybe I’ll check it out at the library for kicks but probably not.

  4. Georgette

    Hi Archer!

    Great review, I just wish it was a book you had enjoyed more. I HAVE read all of the Dexter books, a YA book like this, is precisely the sort of book I would normally read and enjoy.
    The fact that you cannot identify with the wussy-factor of the lead- well, then it’s harder than hell to try to get into the novel. I just finished a book where the female lead had multiple thoughts of things she is going to do- but doesn’t..and that aggravated the hell out of me. Other than her see-saw manner in dealing with things, it would have been a book that knocked the home run out of the park.
    I am glad you were upfront about this. Believe me, I normally would’ve dug it, and now that I’ve read your thoughts, I think I will be running like hell in the other direction.

    • Archer

      @Georgette: You’ll know what I mean then lol. Y’know when Dexter thinks “it’d be oh so easy”? Well there is a lot of that here but none of the actual “See told you it would be easy” It just felt really stagnant from that POV

      • Georgette

        @Archer: Archer, I do indeed. Nothing pisses me off more than a character who hems and haws and then doesn’t pull the trigger. How are you supposed to give a fig about the main character in the piece if they don’t follow up on their thoughts? Espicially when such thoughts take up a good portion of the book. You can read on(I usually do, despite the sucking of the character, I HAVE to finish a book, no matter how bad), but really, how much care do you invest in when they’re sad sacks? It’s a waste of time and energy you could devote to another book. Again, that’s why it’s nice to read honest thoughts about books- because it keeps us from wasting precious time on it.

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