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?
Summary from Goodreads.
Does anyone else ever read a book and enjoy it, but then after finishing become increasingly bothered by something you didn’t even notice while reading? That was the case for me with I Hunt Killers. It’s a fast, engaging read, as long as one is not particularly squeamish. (I’m not, in books.) Jazz is a strong main character and although there have been several young serial killers books out there recently (Dan Wells springs to mind) this one was overall well done. The voice is extremely distinctive–detached in a way that works really well for this title. I think it’s one that a lot of teens will be interested in, both those who like mysteries generally and those who don’t.
However, the more I thought about this book, the more issues I had.
First, I didn’t find any of the secondary characters very fleshed out, including Howie and Connie, who are the two most important people in Jazz’s life. They are both totally defined as Jazz’s best friend and girlfriend that they came across as very flat. Now, this makes some sense textually because of who Jazz is and how he experiences the world, but the book is actually written in third person and includes pov scenes from other characters. We could have had snippets of Howie and Connie to define them outside of their relationship with Jazz.
And in Connie’s case, there’s a huge pivotal scene between her and Jazz which sets up a major plot point. We finally get to hear her voice and some of her reasons for dating Jazz beyond wanting to annoy her parents. And yet it falls so neatly into exactly what Jazz needs to hear–for me that really messed up her as a real character and made the whole next sequence fall flat.
There’s also the fact that I was never personally convinced by Jazz’s relationship with his father. I didn’t find it particularly surprising or fresh, and at times that aspect of the story felt very predictable. Of course, I am definitely a mystery reader and viewer and so it’s possible that some of my frustration comes from having too much pre-knowledge. But I also had a huge problem with the last scene of the book which only seemed to be there to set up the next book. While I don’t mind open threads, I dislike “TO BE CONTINUED” type scenes and this one definitely fell into that category for me.
So overall, I think that this is a book which has a lot of teen appeal and I can see why–it’s a quick and compelling read. But looking at it with more critical eyes reveals some issues which I can’t stop thinking about.
Book source: public library
Book information: 2012, Little, Brown & Company; YA. 2012 Cybils YA Fiction Finalist.