Series: Jasper Dent #1
Published: 12 April 2012 by Bantam Books
Length: 361 pages
Warnings: violence, rape (off-page) 14+
Other info: Barry has also written things like The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl
Summary : You’re seventeen and your father is the most notorious serial killer America has ever produced. He brought you up. Taught you everything he knows. Everyone in your ordinary American town knows who you are. So even though Dear Old Dad is safely behind bars, when the killing starts all over again, you are the first person the police come to see. They don’t know whether it’s nature or nurture. And neither do you.
Review: Japer “Jazz” Dent. Seventeen. Has heamophilac best friend. Has African-American girlfriend. Has serial killer father Billy Dent has kills numbering in the hundreds. So when bodies start turning up, he’s the first person they turn to in suspicion. Determined not to end up like his father, Jazz does everything he can to help the police. And as The Impressionist claims more victims, killing them in the style of Billy Dent, Jazz is fully aware of the fact there’s only one reason why he’s so good at this-he has the mind of a serial killer himself.
I first found out about this book a little while ago, and from reading the first line of the summary, I knew I had to read it. Proper serial killers, the realistic kind, are pretty much never seen in YA today, so seeing it from a son’s perspective is original, interesting, and definitely drawing me in.
Jasper is a very fleshed out character. Even though I Hunt Killers is written in the third person, it was so easy to be pulled into his mind, his train of thought, and his conflicts. Which are huge. I like the way he keeps thinking back to his childhood, and the way he has no idea who he’s cutting in this dream.
Plotline development was great. There’s turns in all kinds of aspects to the story/ there are developments in the murder plotline, regarding Jasper’s grandmother, Jasper’s stability/ability to not go murdering everyone, even Jasper’s love life. Each got an appropriate amount of coverage, adding (mostly) unpredictability to the story, and further building Jasper’s character.
For once, the romance actually adds something, even though it’s not the kind of book you’d typically associate with romance. It isn’t your girly romance at all-more like a little bit of normality to remind us that Jazz is just a teenage boy. We are often reminded about the fact that while he’d like to have sex with Connie, he’s scared. Just in case he snaps and kills her. Definitely not typical, but good in context.
The murder plotline is a case of rather picky copycat murders taking Billy’s victims, and replicating them carefully in some aspects but not others-the same hair colours and initials, but only loosely similar jobs. While good, it was rather predictable. My prediction made semi-near the start was right. Someone’s introduced in that random way that marks them as being either the perpetrator or somehow otherwise involved in this whole mess. Also, it’s rather coincidental (read conveniently placed by author) that all these hair colours/initials/jobs/locations match. In the course of things, this hardly matters.
The writing was great. It wasn’t complex, but it was detailed and I could imagine everything happening now, despite it being written in the past tense. Throughout I was gripped and did not want to stop reading.
The ending. Too vague to be a definite cliff-hanger, too vague to indicate a sequel of any kind. There’s a number of directions it could go from that ending point. I really hope that Barry Lyga writes a follow up, but if he doesn’t, I won’t mind-I’ve made up many alternate endings in my head.