I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga features Jasper “Jazz” Dent, a 17-year old high school junior living in the small town of Lobo’s Nod. He’s handsome, charismatic, and intelligent, but his family holds a dark, gruesome past – his own father, Billy Dent, is the world’s most notorious serial killer, having killed at least 123 people before finally being captured and sent to prison four years ago by Lobo’s Nod Police Chief G. William Tanner.
The whole world watched the horror go down, and now Jasper is living with the consequences. His peers fear and abhor him, and the media constantly stalks him, everyone constantly asking the question: will Jasper ever snap and brutally kill like his father?
I can’t properly express how much I love this book. The terror mounts at the start with an extremely graphic description of a murdered woman found in a local field. From there, we experience the novel through Jasper’s eyes as he tries to cope with his family’s tarnished reputation and overcome doubts that he too might be a violent sociopath. You can really tell Lyga did his research for this book, as the medical information and psychoanalysis is very detailed and totally believable. It adds greatly to the horrifying events, with some scenes so intense that I had to step back from the novel and catch my breath.
Despite the epic plot and pacing, it’s the characters that steal the show. Jasper is at once sympathetic and cold, but far from a caricature, and his struggle with his own madness is entertaining and mind blowing. His best friend Howie and his girlfriend Connie are compassionate, amazing people that each contribute to the story in a major way – technically they could be considered sidekicks but the book wouldn’t be nearly as good without them. This might just be one of my favorite YA book of all time.
If this is ever turned into a film, I would want Jack Nicholson to play Jazz’s father, because throughout the whole book I was imagining Bill’s words in Jack’s voice. Nicholson has just the right potential balance of badassery and batshit-insaneism, I think, and Bill is definitely both. I both feared the man like I might fear Satan if he was standing right in my room, pointing his pitchfork at me and laughing maniacally, and then I had to grudgingly respect the dude for being so cocky and out of his mind that he couldn’t care less about what he did to all those people. He’s the honey badger personified – he just don’t give a s#@!.
I’ve shared my immense love for Barry Lyga on this blog before, as well as our long history of me besting him in pool, but I must say… I’ve never loved Barry Lyga more than I do after reading this book. Good show, dude. Good show.
….Bbbbbbbut, I just think we shouldn’t meet up at the pool hall anymore for a while… no offense, but I’m joining Holly Black in asserting that at this point, you probably need to see a psychiatrist. Regularly. Maybe even two or three, if you can swing it. I’ll be cowering under my bed if you need me.
I do NOT recommend this book for anyone who is squeamish, dislikes very graphic depictions of gore, or anyone younger than 15.