I was really surprised when I found this at my school library, as it usually doesn’t have more underrated books…but I’m glad this was an exception!
I’m feeling kind of lazy today…so the pros and cons are gonna be short. (Plus, they’re similar to the first one)
Summary: I Hunt Killers introduced the world to Jazz, the son of history’s most infamous serial killer, Billy Dent. In an effort to prove murder didn’t run in the family, Jazz teamed with the police in the small town of Lobo’s Nod to solve a deadly case. And now, when a determined New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz’s door asking for help, he can’t say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple–and its police force–running scared. So Jazz and his girlfriend, Connie, hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer’s murderous game.
Story: 4.5/5: In my review of I Hunt Killers, I mentioned that although the mystery itself was good, it wasn’t that aspect that made it addicting. That wasn’t a problem. This mystery was much more twisty and unpredictable, as well as being confusing, but in the best way possible.
It follows Jazz as he is asked by a New York detective to help with catching a bizarre serial killer known as “The Hat-Dog Killer”, and boy, are his murders strange….
However, it also digs a little deeper into Jazz’s relationship with his father, and some strange new revelations about his past. Overall, this had a much better mystery than the first one, and had one heck of a cliffhanger.
Characters: 4/5: The characters were also much more fleshed out.
Jazz is still an amazing protagonist. He is in a consistent struggle between being “normal”, and letting his more sociopathic and manipulative tendencies come out. He doesn’t want that to happen, but he finds out in certain situations, his ability to manipulate others comes in handy. He is a mess, and it’s hard not to feel some sort of sympathy for him. Being in his head is at once as disturbing as it is fascinating. In Game, he struggles with his darker aspects even more, as he is determined to catch Billy and keep those he cares about safe. But he’s also scared that he doesn’t really “care” about others at all, and merely believes he does. He is seriously interesting, and not once does he feel over the top or constrived. He feels realistic. I still think he is one of the most complex main characters in YA.
Connie, his girlfriend, also develops. She truly cares about Jazz, and is determined to actually help him while he throws himself into danger. Connie is someone I have mixed feelings about: I love that she refuses to be a damsel in distress and is even able to investigate some stuff on her own, but at the same time, she doesn’t think about the consequences of her actions. That irritated me, as I felt that she let her heart rule her head too much. I also think her being black was a little over-emphasized: I do think it’s a big part of her, and needed to be talked about, but sometimes it was too much. But I do think she’s a good character, and is very active. Maybe if she and Jazz weren’t a couple right off the bat, I would’ve liked their relationship more.
Howie was the one I felt had some of the best development. In I Hunt Killers, I thought he was kind of irritating; the classic “best friend” type who made dumb mistakes. But here, he’s expanded on, and even if he could be frustrating, it was more on the humorous and more likable side. Howie stays at Lobo’s Nod to help take care of Jazz’s Gramma with a new character: Jazz’s Aunt Sam, whom Howie develops a crush on. Their interactions are a good level of comedy relief in an otherwise tense story. Despite his being a Type A Hemophiliac, Howie doesn’t allow Jazz and Connie to be the only ones investigating the mysteries; even though he never ventured to New York, he helps a lot and even discovers some vital clues.
There are other characters, like Detective Hughes, the detective who asks Jazz for help, Agent Morales, an FBI agent who is determined to catch Billy, and Aunt Sam, who seems to be the only Dent to not have any mental problems (or does she…?). I kind of wish G. William appeared more, as I think he is a good detective beneath his folksy demeanor, but that’s okay.
Writing: 4.5/5: Lyga wrote in more than one perspective for this. While the previous book did include snippets of the murderer’s thoughts, the other characters were somewhat ignored. But Connie and Howie are allowed to share their thoughts, as did some of the investigators. This worked out well, as everyone had their own voice even in a third person narrative. The research into psychology and the mind of a murderer was excellent again, and felt truly organic. It managed to be pretty educational, but seriously interesting.
Details: 5/5: It’s hard to discuss details without spoiling anything. One of the big challenges in books like these is explaining a killer’s motives and making them understandable for “normal” people. Lyga manages to succeed again, and make them frightening but…again, not making sense, exactly. But understandable. I also like how this book doesn’t rely on gore to be creepy, but the minds of the characters.
World Building: 4/5: From what I’ve seen, Lyga captured New York very well. I haven’t been there, but it felt real enough to make sense.
- Research: So much research….and boy, did it pay off! It felt so real.
- Plot twists: The plot twists improved a lot. I didn’t see some of them coming, which is really impressive. Needless to say, I was much more into the mystery than I was in the last book.
- Character development: Some characters who were kind of neglected in IHK were expanded on here, and given much more depth.
- Could be confusing: We’re trying to get into the mind of a serial killer. Their brains can be very confusing…
- I don’t have a name for this one, but I feel like if Jazz and Connie weren’t a couple (but had romantic subtext) their relationship would be more interesting. They’re a good pair, but not too compelling. Although I did find Jazz’s concern that his attraction to Connie was because of her skin color, and was therefore safe from him, to be interesting.
- Cliffhanger: Oh boy. Talk about a cliffhanger. It’s on par with Sherlock, in my opinion. If you don’t have easy and fast access to Blood of My Blood, (the third book) I feel so sorry for you after that ending.
Grade: 4.5/5: This was definitely an improvement over I Hunt Killers. Not only were the characters interesting, but the plot and mystery were much more engaging.