From the very first chapter, I know this book was going to be a doozy. I Hunt Killers is a gripping story about serial killers and…not becoming a serial killer. I’ve yet to meet a reader who didn’t enjoy this book (that typically means I won’t like it, though thankfully not in this case), so I think that’s probably a strong indication of how good this book is, and what a great job Barry Lyga did with this story.
So, based on the reviews I’ve read, I was expecting a really gory manhunt type book. And I guess that’s where perspective comes into play, because a), there is no dramatic manhunt besides “oh hey, there’s a serial killer in town—I should do something about that” and b), I Hunt Killers isn’t actually very gory. Or, it wasn’t for me. And maybe that’s because I read a lot of adult fiction along with my YA, so my gore-meter is skewed upwards? Anyhoo. Neither of those are bad things that impacted my overall enjoyment, so they’re just observations.
I do think that the biggest thing I Hunt Killers has going for it is sheer unputdownableness. I started reading this book in a bad mood. I knew I shouldn’t be reading because this mood was going to ruin anything I read, but I was on a deadline so I kept on. The next thing I knew, I was on page 200, and poof, bad mood gone. This is an absolutely absorbing book that seriously grabs you and does not let go. Plus, Lyga gets bonus points for giving me exactly what I needed at that moment, which doesn’t happen too often.
The strange thing about this book is that I knew who the serial killer was as soon as he showed up. The very first sentence out of this character’s mouth is a complete tip-off. Maybe this means I read too many Nancy Drew books as a kid. Anyway, the fact that I completely knew who the killer was didn’t bother me as much as I most likely would have in any other circumstance. Actually, it added a delicious bit of dramatic irony to the entire novel, and I kind of liked yelling at Jazz to be a bit more observant, darn you.
Speaking of Jazz…he’s messed up. Basically he spent his childhood being trained by his serial killer father to be a serial killer once he grew up. And now that his dad’s in jail, Jazz is trying to convince everyone (but especially himself), that he’s not like his father. He definitely has that “tortured hero with strong sense of morality” thing going on, which I tend to go for a lot of the time in my books. I found it a bit less charming in Jazz for some reason, though I still think he’s a really strong character who I enjoyed. It might have been nice if his support system (AKA, two best friends) were as well-rounded as Jazz, since they could have complimented his personality more than just as a) comic relief and b) someone to bare his soul to. But in the end, Jazz is still a pretty cool guy.
One thing I Hunt Killers might be lacking is staying power. I’m not sure it impacted me in the way I want my books to. This book is really, really entertaining, but is it something I’ll remember down the road? I’m not sure. Maybe it will, though, and that would be awesome.
However, I most definitely and certainly recommend this book. I discussed that my meter for determining squick factor is skewed, so I can’t say if it’s the kind of book that would bother different people or not. But serial killers are an interesting topic for sure, Barry Lyga’s prose is absolutely addicting, and I found myself having a lot of fun while reading this book.