Series: Jasper Dent #1
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on 4/3/12
Genres: YA Horror
Source: The Smashtastic Library
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What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?
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?
Interest in Book
This was the August choice for my rocksauce book club. I am not sure I was even aware of it before then, but I am super happy that it fell in my lap. It was pleasantly morbid and I enjoyed the psychopathology aspect of it all. Maybe I should work with sociopaths? Not to get too personal in this book review, but I have huge interest in Attachment theory as a social worker. While there has not been a lot of research linking non-attachment in the first few years of life to antisocial personality disorder in adulthood, I am a full believer that attachment can be a major factor. I would love to someday, maybe, work in this area. I’ve worked with children who likely had insecure attachments, and one with Reactive Attachment Disorder, and holy cannoli, it’s bone-chilling to interact with a child that has no life in their eyes. To hear them talk about hurting or killing animals or people like they were going for ice cream. EEEEEEEP!
This isn’t a fantasy book. Rather, it’s set in modern times in a small po-dunk southern town. I think the most chilling aspect of it was because it’s reality-based. Serial killers, do in fact, exist in our society. Getting a glimpse of how serial killers think was fascinating and creepy as hell. More interesting, however, was being inside the head of Jazz Dent, teenage son of the infamous serial killer, Billy Dent. Jazz was pretty much molded by his father to become a serial killer. Now that Billy is finally in prison, being caught by a small-town sheriff after 120+ kills, Jazz is living with his grandmother and doing everything in his power to not become a monster.
Jazz’s constant internal struggle was so incredibly fascinating. He does not 100% believe he is not turning into his father, but is trying his damnedest otherwise. Jazz constantly questions his humanity, often seeing both sides to his actions. It was eerie and sad. Throughout the novel, we get glimpses of Billy Dent via Jazz’s perspective, the trauma and horrors he subjected Jazz to as a child. Dear Old Dad, as Jazz refers to his lunatic kin, sent chills up my spine. It appears that he cared for Jazz in the only way he knew how. Unfortunately, being devoid of emotional input/output , Jazz likely did not grow up with the warm snugglies from his pops. Dr. Smash always says the quickest way to raise a sociopath is to use cold, inconsistent parenting. I don’t envision Billy being that father who played baseball with Jazz and took him to the zoo. And as far as consistency goes, I’m thinking he was only consistent when it came to Jazz’s special training. The nature vs. nurture question is heavily apparent in this book.
Jazz’s mother has been out of the picture for sometime, another piece of Jazz’s life that is slowly pieced together throughout the story. Or not. His grandmother, Billy’s mother, is definitely psychotic. She has random hallucinations and appears paranoid.
“[She] was made up of skin and bones and hate and crazy, and hate and crazy don’t weigh anything.”
Jazz has to care for her now, though he has been keeping that information from his social worker. The last thing he wants is to be placed in foster care. He treats the social worker with the least amount of respect possible, and as social workers do, she doesn’t give up. NO appreciation, peeps! If his grandmother has always been psychotic, I’m not surprised Billy grew up to be loco! Having a mental illness as a parent, especially a psychotic disorder, will definitely hinder your parenting ability. Jazz does not want to abandon his grandmother, however, and deals with her random bouts of psychosis and personal attacks.
Ok, enough of my analyzing. I have to mention best friend, Howie, who I wanted to give a great big hug or high five on many occasion. Of course, I would have to be very careful, as Howie has some serious hemophilia and even a light tap on the knuckles can bruise him for days. You would never guess that Howie is plagued by a serious disease which has kept him from doing many enjoyable activities. His personality shines bright and he is forever the optimist. He made me laugh multiple times and I adored what a good friend he is to Jazz, despite his background and the rest of the town’s opinion of Billy Dent’s child. Connie, Jazz’s girlfriend, was also a great character. She challenges and pushes him to work through his father’s influence and break the tight grip he has on Jazz’s sanity. I was proud of her in a few scenes. Jazz’s affection for her is something he struggles with, constantly wondering if he is manipulating her or if his feelings are true.
“Jazz hadn’t given her many details of exactly what life in the Dent house had been like, but he’d told her enough that she knew it wasn’t hearts and flowers. Well, except for the occasional heart cut from a chest. And the kind of flowers you send to funerals.”
I Hunt Killers will rock your world, in a morbid way. It definitely has gory scenes and is not for the squeamish. I was really impressed with the author’s knowledge about the psychopathology of serial killers, and his ability to write those intricacies into his characters made this one hell of a good story. I truly look forward to Game! I think parents should definitely gauge their child’s maturity before allowing them to take this one on. And, as always, be there for them to discuss their thoughts and feelings. Way important.
“…called nine-one-one,” Howie was saying, “and then I heard something in the alleyway, so I went back there and” –Howie coughed– “and valiantly attacked his knife with my guts, to no avail.”
“Did you get a good look at him? Could you describe him?”
Howie smiled wanly. “Yeah. He was about yay long” –he held up his hands, four inches apart– “thin, made of steel. Pointy. Sharp.”
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