I absolutely loved the concept behind Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers. A teenage son of the world’s most notorious serial killer decides to use his father’s training to hunt serial killers himself, and therefore prove he isn’t like his father. Jasper Dent has the daddy of daddy issues, and it makes for a gripping, emotional read, and a hero/potential anti-hero you can really get behind. There are shades of Dexter Morgan’s in Jazz’s own quest, and kudos to Lyga for fearlessly exploring the darkness within his teenage protagonist.
Game ups the ante by pitting father against son in even more overt ways. Jazz is somewhat more confident in his role as serial killer hunter, but his subconscious keeps torturing him with disturbing memories, and he is still unable to shake off the fear that he is predisposed to ultimately become like his father.
On one hand, Game is a bit of a letdown after the absolutely compelling first volume in the series. It reads more like a traditional thriller, except with a teenage protagonist rather than a hardened professional. Jazz’s character development had always fascinated me more than the mysteries themselves, so oddly enough, I found myself somewhat disappointed by the heightened focus on the mystery in this book.
Connie plays a much larger role in this book, and while I like how important she is in keeping Jazz deeply grounded in his own humanity, while I like that Lyga has a female character who can hold her own as well as the male protagonist can, I thought her part in the story mostly unnecessary and would personally have preferred to instead have had Jazz’s solitude offer us a deeper exploration of his psyche.
That being said, there’s still plenty of dark and twisty Jasper Dent psychology to grip readers. Jazz’s hesitation to have sex with Connie, because he’s afraid it’ll awaken some latent psychosis is reminiscent of Angel’s inability to have sex with Buffy at the risk of losing his soul, and it’s particularly striking within the context of the deeply disturbing, highly sexualized, memories surfacing in Jazz’s subconscious.
As well, as an action packed thriller, it’s a hell of a ride. Particularly in the second half of the book, where my Goodreads profile shows comments such as “Holy crap!” at around the 75% mark, and “OMG what a cliff hanger!” at the very end.
The Jasper Dent books is an audacious, utterly fascinating series, and I can’t wait to see where Lyga takes it next.
Thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.