“I taught you everything you know, but not everything I know.” // Review of “Blood of My Blood” by Barry Lyga

Title: Blood of My Blood (Jasper Dent #3)
Author: Barry Lyga
Genre: YA/Psychological thriller
Date Read: 09/07/2016 – 10/07/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

Hmm. Well, that was a bit disappointing. After such a strong series opener and a really good follow-up, I felt that this book was a bit of a mess. Maybe it’s just that I’m terrible at keeping track of details, but there seemed to be so much going on, and so many POVs, that I ended up lost. It’s never a good sign when you’re glancing down at the page numbers to see how many you’ve got to go, but that started happening with this book.

Jazz is on the run in New York City, suspected of at least two murders and a myriad of other crimes. Meanwhile, Connie and Howie are also both in danger, but both of them realise they will still do whatever it takes to protect Jazz. Eventually, everything converges on Lobo’s Nod again, where a final showdown is about to commence.

This book made a return to the first book’s tendency to focus on Jazz’s angst regarding his upbringing, and whether he might be a serial killer in waiting. While it’s completely logical that Jazz would wonder this, even obsess over it, it gets repetitive for the reader, especially when these thought processes have no evolution or resolution and don’t lead anywhere. Not only this, we also had Connie and Howie going through similar periods of angst. And it took a long time to get to a point in the book where these characters were doing constructive things, rather than just lying in hospital  or in Jazz’s case, road-tripping home.

On top of this, we had scenes from the POV of not only Jazz but Connie, Howie, Detective Hughes of the NYPD, Sherrif Tanner, and a couple of serial killers at times. It felt very busy, maybe even an attempt to make it appear more was going on than what actually was. On top of this was the strange backstory to Billy Dent’s career, and his position within an established serial killer pecking order. It didn’t make a huge amount of sense to me, and it didn’t help that by this point in the series, Billy Dent was starting to become something of a comical villain, rather than the chilling voice in Jazz’s head he started out as.

While I have read series closers that were more disappointing than this one (coughTheRavenKingcough), there is still that “…heh” feeling at the end. Despite that, though, I still recommend this series if you have the stomach for it. Even if this final novel isn’t quite as good, you are still in for a good ride!


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“Jazz felt as though his own life was a minefield, one he’d lost the map for.” // Review of “Game” by Barry Lyga

Title: Game (Jasper Dent #2)
Author: Barry Lyga
Genre: YA/Thriller
Date Read: 07/07/2016 – 09/07/2016
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

gamecoverWhile this instalment in the series took a bit longer to get going than the first book, I still found the it to have a high chill-factor that made me want to speed through the pages.

After the events of I Hunt Killers, Jazz is summoned to New York to consult with the NYPD on a serial killer case there. While he still has concerns stemming from the aftermath of the Impressionist case, he and Connie go along anyway, and soon Jazz finds himself closely linked to the murders in NYC.

This book benefits from spending less time in Jazz’s head. I found the first book started getting a bit repetitive with all of Jazz’s “Will I, won’t I?” about becoming a serial killer like his father. However, it did take a while to get going, as the set-up of Jazz’s visit to NYC and the establishment of how the Hat-Dog murderer was working took some time to cover. This book also spent more time in other POVs, which I felt slowed down the pace a bit, even though in most cases it did need to be done to continue advancing the plot. There is also the fact that you do have to suspend a fair bit of disbelief about the NYPD taking on a 17-year-old as a consultant, but I am pretty good at suspension of disbelief, so I was able to get around that.

I did like the revelation of the titular “game”and how it fitted into everything. It was particularly gruesome, but also rather clever, in a macabre sort of way. However, the revelation that formed the book’s cliffhanger did not come as the slightest surprise to me, as there had been so much effort spent throughout the book to make me think the opposite was true that I couldn’t help but assume this revelation to be the case.

Still, the first book set a huge standard, and this a good follow-up, even if it doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor.


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“You won’t even know you’ve crossed the line until it’s way back in your rearview mirror.” // Review of “I Hunt Killers” by Barry Lyga

Title: I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1)
Author: Barry Lyga
Genre: YA/Psychological thrillers
Date Read: 15/06/2016 – 17/06/2016
Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

This book was very intense. While it was very hard to put down, there was a time when I had to, because its chilling content was causing a disturbing churning in my stomach, but then the second night I was reading it, I accidentally stayed up past midnight with it. The reason that I knocked a half-star off my rating is that this chill factor did wear off about halfway through, which, while a relief, was also a bit disappointing,

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is the son of one of the 21st Century’s most notorious serial killers, Butcher Billy, whose body count is over 100. As you can imagine, Jazz didn’t grow up in the most normal of environments. He is terrified of turning into his father, and when a copycat murderer shows up in his hometown, he decides to help the police with their investigation, in the hopes of at least proving to them that he should not be their main suspect, and proving to himself that he is better than his father.

Jazz is a really unique character among YA protagonists. Lyga has clearly done his research because the effects of Billy Dent’s brainwashing on Jazz are clear, as are other parts of Jasper’s psychology, such as his occasional moments of sociopathy. He is a charmer, he can manipulate people to his will, and if he forgets to remind himself that all people are real and deserving of a life, he does start viewing them as expendable. He also has some repressed memories starting to rear their ugly heads, and isn’t entirely sure what to make of them.

The book is structured in such a way that Jazz’ flashbacks to his father’s bragging after kills, and other awful memories are woven seamlessly into the main murder plot. Billy Dent is terrifying; it was one of these flashbacks that made me have to close the book for the night because I was feeling spooked. It also deals with some of the other harsh realities of being the son of such an infamous figure, such as parents of Billy’s murder victims tracking him down and wanting to talk to him to find some kind of closure.

Jazz is accompanied by some really great side characters, particularly Connie, his girlfriend, and Howie, his best friend. Both of them supported him despite knowing who his father was, and keep him grounded when he starts going off the rails.

Overall, this is an incredibly strong series opener, which I recommend, though it is definitely not for the faint of heart!


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