Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1)
By Barry Lyga
359 Pages
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 3, 2012

From Goodreads:

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’ve seen a lot of comparisons between this book’s Jasper and Dexter Morgan. Not sure I really agree for most of the book, as there are some obvious differences – first and foremost, Dexter enjoys killing (although he only kills those who “deserve” to be killed) and Jasper is horrified by the thought that he may not be able to control the urges that his father’s murderous brainwashing has left behind. Dexter is also unable to feel any kind of human emotion and Jazz feels things like guilt and shame quite acutely.  It’s not until the very end of the book that a similarity between Jazz & Dexter emerges. And the book isn’t in any way derivative of Dexter – it stands on its own just fine.

To me, the thing that makes this book as good as it is is that Jazz is a really likeable character in spite of his potential to someday be a soulless serial killer. He’s had a really rough life (to put it mildly) and he wants to be normal, but years and years of brainwashing have left him afraid of what he might someday become. You really feel a lot of empathy for him because he genuinely struggles to do the right thing. It added layers to what otherwise might have been a pretty straightforward horror book. As awesome as Jazz was, however, the secondary characters steal almost every scene that they’re in, from Connie to Howie to G. William to Grandma. And even his dad Billy, who is every bit as horrendous as you’d expect him to be. He’s a really chilling character. He reminded me of someone you’d see on that old HBO show Oz (you know, the one where the guy from those hilarious “mayhem” Allstate commercials gets naked?), where everyone was just a really *mean* criminal and there was nothing jokey about it.

The book moves along really quickly and it’s well paced and engrossing. I think I tore through it in only about two sittings. There’s not a lot of romance although Jazz and Connie clearly love each other, and I was glad for it. It’s really not that kind of book and sidelining too far into romance would have been a mistake IMO.

It’s not a book for those with a weak stomach, though, as the gore levels are somewhat high. And there is a scene of horrendous animal violence which I definitely skipped. Still, it’s a really great start to a series and I’m looking forward to reading the next book.

4.75/5 Stars

Leave a comment


  1. Clearly I need to get a copy of this sooner rather than later. I don’t think I’ve seen a bad review for it yet and the subject matter is fascinating. Awesome review! 🙂

  2. I’ve got this one on deck as my next read. I’d also heard it was pitched (by someone, probably not the author) as a “YA Dexter,” but to make Dexter work for a teen audience, as you pointed out, he has to be relatable and not enjoy killing people himself. It would never get published! But writing about a serial killer in teen fic will get the inevitable comparison. Anyway, looking forward to it.

    • Yeah, I agree. The comparison isn’t actually that far off, it’s just there are a lot of differences and any similarities don’t show up until the very end.

  3. Im not going to lie, I’m a big puss. I don’t think I can read this. I’m too squeamish. I believe everyone who says it’s great. I love your review!

  4. I’m kinda a puss like andrea, I dont know if this one is for me. lol

    speaking of puss, I just read an erotica book called party of three, there was some puss eating it lol. And a Cucumber…. *gasp*

    happy friday


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