Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Plot Summary:
Known as the son of the most notorious serial killer, Billy Dent, Jazz has been trying to live a normal life for the past four years--he even has a girlfriend and a best friend. However, when the body of a dead woman shows up Lobos Nod, Jazz can't help but investigate the crime scene because who would know crime scenes more than him? The thing about Jazz is that he didn't learn about his father's crimes from a report...his father actually brought him to the murders and forced him to watch. Although Jazz seems to have a pretty good head on his shoulders, what he fears the most is the very idea that he could end up just like his father. When Jazz approaches G. William (the officer who captured his father and has tried to help Jazz live a normal life) about the victim, he is instantly told to mind his own business because not every dead body conveys a serial killer is on the loose. However, this body isn't just another dead body; the victim was found naked and missing three fingers where the killer "accidentally" drops the middle finger for police to find. There's something not right about the whole thing so Jazz and his best friend, Howie, break into the morgue to look over the corpse and Jazz' theory is starting to make sense when he noticed the bruising on her knuckles and the lack of it on her back. Despite being careful, Jazz and Howie are caught while "investigating" Jane Doe and the killer continues his rampage and, unfortunately, his pattern is awful familiar, which Jazz starts to believe that his father has returned. The only problem with this theory is that Billy Dent is locked away in solitary confinement so this must be copycat killer and, with copycat killers, they bound to make a mistakes. As Jazz continues to struggle with his own identity, and the fact there is a serial killer on the loose, he continues his own investigation because if could actually catch the killer, he will not be able to redeem his name, but prove to himself that he is nothing like his father. However, his nightmares continue to haunt him and Jazz starts to think that he isn't as innocent as everyone thinks.

Critical Evaluation:
WOWZA! I really don't have any other words to use to describe how amazing this book is. Although the subject matter may not appeal to everyone, Lyga is an incredible writer who knows to capture his audience. I will admit that I am a super huge fan of Criminal Minds [ a fictional television show focusing on a unit called the Behavior Analysis Unit (BAU)] where a lot of the terminology and descriptions are very familiar. However, to the unknowing reader, they will learn a lot about criminal investigations and what really defines a serial killer. Along with the murder and mayhem aspect, there is some serious character development going on this story because Jazz is concerned about his future and the prospect that he could become his father (i.e., the feelings and urges he has when approaches people). There has been a long debate about murders being genetically programmed to kill, but, in this case, Jazz was raised by a maniac that forced him to watch kill. I can't imagine what it's like being Jazz because he is constantly haunted by his father's words, actions,  and advice. Jazz really didn't have a chance at a normal life because of his father so I have to hand it to him for being so well adjusted. Than again, according to Jazz, serial killers can blend in perfectly with society, but what sets him apart from people like his father is his empathy. He stood up to Howie's bullies and made a friend for life and he genuinely loves his girlfriend despite the fact her father hates him. Serial killers, from what we learn, are narcissists and utterly selfish so Jazz doesn't "fit the profile" yet he is still paranoid that it's not real or genuine. What's troubling Jazz  is that he has no faith in who he is because he feels responsible for Billy's victims. No matter what Connie, Howie, or G. William say, nothing will ever be good enough until he brings this copycat down. The question is: how much is Jazz willing to risk to prove he isn't a serial killer. This novel packs quite a punch and I can't wait for the sequel!

Information about the Author:
According to the author's website:
After graduating from Yale with a degree in English, Lyga worked in the comic book industry before quitting to pursue his lifelong love of writing. In 2006, his first young adult novel, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, was published to rave reviews, including starred reviews from Booklistand School Library JournalPublishers Weekly named Lyga a “Flying Start” in December 2006 on the strength of the debut.
His second young adult novel, Boy Toy, received starred reviews in SLJPublishers Weekly, and KirkusVOYA gave it its highest critical rating, and the Chicago Tribune called it “…an astounding portrayal of what it is like to be the young male victim.” His third novel, Hero-Type, according to VOYA “proves that there are still fresh ideas and new, interesting story lines to be explored in young adult literature.”
Since then, he has also written Goth Girl Rising (the sequel to his first novel), as well as the Archvillain series for middle-grade readers and the graphic novel Mangaman (with art by Colleen Doran).
His latest series is I Hunt Killers, called by the LA Times “one of the more daring concepts in recent years by a young-adult author” and an “extreme and utterly alluring narrative about nature versus nurture.” The first book landed on both the New York Times and USAToday bestsellers lists, and the series has been optioned for television by Warner Bros./Silver Pictures.
Lyga lives and writes in New York City. His comic book collection is a lot smaller than it used to be, but is still way too big.

Teen Mysteries, Teen Suspense, Teen Horror

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 10 & up

Books Similar to I Hunt Killers:
  • The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Awards & Recognition:

"I Hunt Killers is an out-of-control hearse with one busted headlight, blood on the grille, a madman at the wheel, and laughter pouring out of the open windows... Climb in, buckle up, and go for a ride."—Joe Hill, author of Horns andHeart-Shaped Box

* "A superb mystery/thriller that explores what it's like to have a monster for a father...but it's Jazz's internal conflict about his exposure to his father's evil that adds extra dimension and makes the book shine."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"I adored this book. The mystery pulls you in from the first pages, and Jazz is a more chillingly charming protagonist than Dexter Morgan."—Cassandra Clare, author of the Mortal Instruments series

* "Lyga brilliantly combines the feel of a true crime story with mystery, adventure, and psychoanalysis."—VOYA, starred review --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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