Series: Jasper Dent #1
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on April 3rd 2012
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Young Adult
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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…