Published: April 3, 2012
Little, Brown Books
359 pages, hardcover
GR Summary: 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 think I lost quite a bit of my sanity in the process of reading I Hunt Killers. To say this book is not for the faint of heart (mind, stomach, etc.) is a bit of an understatement. It's similar to saying "Damon Salvatore is easy on the eyes, I suppose," or "cheese might be the in the top 100 foods of all time." (PLEASE. It's the best food.) Another understatement? To say that my attention was piqued a little by Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers. Bish, please. My attention was shanghaied and held captive for the full 359.
This is the best serial killer book I've ever read. Not that my track record is extensive, but HOLY CRAP. Do I even NEED to read any others? I've been captivated by those serial killer shows before, but this seemed more real, more threatening than any real person I've seen on those murder documentaries. To read about Billy Dent--a man and father who has tortured, tormented, sexually assaulted, and purposefully and jovially disfigured the bodies of over a hundred women and men--through the eyes of his son, Jasper "Jazz" Dent was positively frightening. I dreaded that italicized print that meant Jazz was reliving one of the many, for lack of a better term, murder lessons from his father. Realizing through Jasper all his similarities to his father practically had me shielding my eyes because I DIDN'T WANT IT TO BE TRUE.
This book was visceral. I could feel it in my freaking bones. And I, the genius that I am, figured it'd be a good idea to stay up until crazy hours to finish this book. I Hunt Killers MESSED WITH MY MIND. I found myself thinking, in my delirious, overtired state, "wait, is he talking to Jazz or me? Is this book real? IS BILLY DENT MY FREAKING FATHER?" And long after I finished, even after looking at recipes and cat photos on Pinterest, found my brain always led me back to Billy Dent.
I think the scariest part of this book, other than Jasper questioning his own motives and goodness, was that Billy Dent was so matter-of-fact and happy at his "accomplishments." Dude legitimately thought he was doing a pleasurable, positive thing. He didn't see people as people. Just conquests. PROSPECTS. And the fact that Barry Lyga could write this character so flawlessly and fluidly? Well, that scares me. But in a good way. And that ending will haunt me until the sequel is released. I foresee many more nights of Billy creeping into my brain randomly and causing me to pull up my covers just a little tighter.
I Hunt Killers is so different from any book I would normally read. A mystery at the core, it's also a boy's struggle between what he knows to be right and what his murderous father taught him to be right. This is a horribly disturbing read. There's blood, gore, ostentatious killing without remorse that is almost sportly. But oh man, this is horror at its finest. The worst kind of horror. The dark, gnarled insides of a killer/s mind through a boy who just might be a killer himself.
Buy I Hunt Killers... If you aren't afraid to scare yourself just a little.