I Hunt Killers

I Hunt Killers - You can also read this review on Flying-Kick-a-Pow! Reviews.It was natural for sons to worship their fathers, anyway. And when the father in question was a charismatic dragon who taught his child that society's rules did not apply to him, that other people were either chattel or prey, that the world had been made for the two of them and no one else …That was the worst sort of control. A sort of brainwashing that Jazz had only managed to throw off when Billy's arrest approached. It was as though he'd been helpless to rebel against his upbringing, until the world itself put the lie to Billy's promise that the world's laws didn't matter. And then, slowly––so damn slowly––Jazz came to realize that his father was a devil, not a god.Summary:Jasper "Jazz" Dent appears to be a normal teenager at a first glance. But there's one thing about him that sets him apart from most kids his age … He was raised by the world's worst serial killer.Now that his father is in jail, Jazz is trying to lead a normal life––living with his grandma, turning to his girlfriend or his best friend when he needs help or advice. But it's hard to be ordinary, when Jazz is constantly haunted by the violence he witnessed throughout his childhood. To make matters worse, a new murderer is loose in Jazz's hometown––a killer who seems to be mimicking his own father's crimes. Jazz knows his father's crimes better than anyone else, and he might be the only one who can help the police discover a pattern and find the murderer. But as he gets more and more involved in trying to solve the mystery, will Jazz be the hero … or will he discover that he's just like his father?My thoughts:I remember hearing a lot of hype about I Hunt Killers last year, and from the first time I heard about it, I wanted to read it. I don't read a lot of YA crime/mystery books, so I was intrigued by the idea. Heck, I didn't even have to know what it was about––the unexpected title and blood-splattered cover were enough to draw me in.I put off reading it for a long time, mostly just because I was caught up in reading so many other things. But I finally got around to reading it recently for a Goodreads book club read. Well, I'm glad I finally picked it up. It wasn't amazing, and there were a few key things that bothered me––but it also did a lot of things really well.What I liked:- This book has a killer premise. (No pun intended. … Just kidding, the pun was intended.) But really, I love the concept so much. I guess the "you have to think like a killer to track him down" thing is kind of a common trope in the genre––while reading this, I couldn't help but think of TV shows like Sherlock and Hannibal, etc. But … I guess I'm a sucker for that trope, because I love it.- Probably the most compelling thing about this book is Jazz's internal struggle. He really wants to help track down the killer––but at the same time, that means pushing himself to think like his father, which is the last thing he wants to do. The great irony is that, in order to disassociate himself from his father, he has to look at things through the eyes of a murderer. It's definitely very creepy, and there are times in the book where Jazz seems truly insane and terrifying. But that's kind of what I liked about it; it doesn't shy away from that darker side of Jazz's mind.- Building off of that, I liked how dark this book was in general. I'm sometimes hesitant about crime fiction, especially for younger readers, because it isn't always realistic in its level of intensity/violence. But I Hunt Killers is very frightening both emotionally/psychologically and in its violence and bloodshed, the good guys don't always win, etc.What didn't work for me:- Although I loved Jazz's struggle, he came off as being kind of whiney at times. I understood that he'd had a horribly traumatic childhood and he was going through a constant identity crisis. But … he also complained about it a lot. It was already pretty understandable that he had a reason to be conflicted. So, his constant complaining about how he didn't want to be like his father were kind of overkill.- I think the side-characters could have been a little more fleshed out. I thought characters like Connie (Jazz's girlfriend) and Howie (his best friend) had potential, but they kind of came off as being token characters. Like, oh here's my token girlfriend and my token comedic-relief best friend, la di da. I think more could have gone into their personalities/backgrounds/etc. - In addition to that, I kind of had issues with how women were portrayed in the book in general. I'm not sure how to explain why it bothered me, but … here goes. There was first of all the fact that all the murderers' victims were women, and there was a lot of horrific violence/rape things going on there. And I'm not saying I necessarily have a problem with all the victims being women, because of course women suffer these terrible things in real life.But then … the other women in the book just weren't very three-dimensional characters. For example, I didn't have anything against Connie––that is, I didn't dislike her as a character––but I also felt like at times, she was only there to give Jazz comfort/advice and to make out with him. It felt to me more like she just existed to support him and not really to be her own character, if that makes sense.On top of that, there were a bunch of sexist moments in the book––which usually went by pretty fast, but they were still enough that they made me stop a second and say, "Whoa, wait." For example:She was a plain woman––not unattractive, not attractive. Just plain. In her late thirties, she was unmarried and likely to remain so, a workaholic aging out of her childbearing years.So … that's the way you describe women––by their vague level of "attractiveness"? And I'm sorry, who are you to judge whether a woman will ever get married, how much she works, or whether she can bear children? I just … UGH. No.Cut to a bottle-blond reporter showing way too much cleavage.… Um okay, that reporter can show as much cleavage as she wants, thank you very much. So yeah, it was just little things like that here and there that made me uncomfortable––and paired with the fact that there was so much violence against women in the book, it was a bit cringe-worthy.- There were occasional chapters in the murderer's point of view, which I thought was unnecessary. Even if we didn't know who the killer was, it kind of took away from the mysterious aspect of the story. That is, I think what's sometimes the most frightening thing about murderers in fiction is that the evidence of their crimes can be everywhere and you still don't know who they are, what they're thinking, etc. It's more of their presence that's the frightening thing, and we don't necessarily have to actually see them.- In general, the book kind of lost me towards the end. Some unexpected things happen, which I guess is good … but on the other hand, I kind of got confused.- One last thing. Just … this sentence: "A light danced like a cheap stripper in his eyes." … Um. What.The final word:I Hunt Killers had an awesome premise going for it, and it was unlike a lot of other YA books I've read. It was intense and suspenseful, and it kept me guessing. There were parts of it that made me uncomfortable/confused/doubtful, but over all I thought it was pretty good and I'd be willing to pick up the sequel. ~ Flying Kick-a-pow! Reviews ~