by Barry Lyga
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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?
The fact is, I love Dexter. Wait – I mean, early Dexter. Not the I-wonder-out-loud-while-doing-the-thing-I’m-wondering-out-loud-about-Dexter we’re forced to stand in the end. What Dexter? Come on! See, everything is in the voice-over and Oh, dear. Don’t get me started about the dumbest thing the show became in the end.
So, I loved Dexter. I love everything serial-killer related. Therefore I was prepared to love this book. It didn’t disappoint. I guess here’s the moment where I must warn you that even though it’s YA, this story isn’t for the faint of heart because we come across some really disturbing and gore scenes. But then, the serial killer deal must have already warned you, right?
Do you think we can turn someone into a serial killer? How much does our upbringing influence our actions? Can we turn our back on faith? Is faith a real deal or just a bunch of irrational fears? Can we fight our interne violence lurking?
“The killer was a badass. Talk about supreme confidence. Jazz couldn’t help it; he sort of admired the guy.
People matter. People are real. People matter…“
► Crime : Larceny.
Indeed after a slow start, this book was such a page-turner that I gave into it hours long without thinking about anything else, hooked as I was. Isn’t it the perfect larceny? No?
What? Just look at the definition.
✘ felonious taking or stealing : okay, I was completely willing. There’s that.
✘ of someone else’s personal goods or property : Hours of my time
✘ valued above (for grand) or below (for petty) a specific amount (which is $100 in many States) : my time is worthless, duh, meaning it’s priceless.
✘ with the intent to deprive the owner permanently of the goods or property. I’m pretty sure that’s permanent, except for some lucky characters of SF novels.
Now, do I regret reading it? Not by a long shot.
► Crime scene : Lobo’s Nod
Here’s a little village where nothing never happens. Hmm. Well. Except that thing – you know, the arrest of one of the biggest serial-killer of all times – aka Jazz’s father. Okay, there’s that.
► Motives of the crime : Play with your mind
This book appears to be some psychological and thought-provoking thriller, as we are immerged in Jazz’s somehow disturbed mind, getting an insight in the mind of that particular kid who’s been raised by a monster. Of course I loved that, what do you think?
► Suspects : There’s enough depth in the characters to make them enthralling and interesting to follow.
▤ Jasper ‘Jazz’ Dent, teenager, raised by a serial killer, who’s continually afraid to cross the boundaries between good and evil. Oh, man, talk about daddy issues. What a tortured kid, and for reasons. Being in his head, hearing his father pieces of advices, following him while he tries to act as a human, to read people correctly in order to appear normal, to be normal, to kill no one, because People Matter guys… That was fascinating to see him struggle between his desire to be good and the darkest parts of his mind who made him wonder…. If… If he gave in… If he let them flow… What would happen?
“And there were the urges. The feelings. The memories. The things that he’d been taught and then forgotten, but that lurked somewhere in his brain’s basement, ready to strike like stalkers in the night.”
Haunted – Jasper’s haunted. By this father’s actions. By the way he was raised. By his fears to become a real legacy for his serial killer of a father. By this knife he can’t help but see in his nightmares. Haunted. Broken in a way nobody can understand. Because he won’t let them see.
Don’t get fooled though : Jasper is no innocent victim. He’s manipulative and flashing his mega-watt smile comes just as easily to him as breathing – he became a master of “looking normal”, and has a millions expressions in his arsenal to use when needed. As his father, he’s charming, handsome, and looks completely above suspicion. Actually he reminded me of Dexter in the way he has to read people to know how to act sometimes : Is Connie happy? Hmm, yeah, she seems to be. I mean, the girl does smile. That’s a good sign right? (Little tips : that’s not always a good sign). He’s got also this dark humor I loved in Dexter, this ability to see life through a twisted glass, to see people as they truly are, free of their false pretenses… Or so he thinks.
Jasper, always on the edge of… Jasper, for whom I ended caring deeply.
▤ Howie, best-friend of sub-mentioned Jazz, likes cracking inappropriate jokes, and suffers from hemophilia. This loyal kid cracked me up something fierce.
▤ G. William, State sheriff – too nice to be true, but then, guilt and pity can do that to people, I’ve been told.
▤ Connie, Jazz’s girlfriend, is a stronger Rita (yes, Dexter’s Rita, remember?). As Jazz expresses it, she’s his anchor, his human part, somehow… The one who’s not afraid to tell him that this killer joke, now, wasn’t the best idea he could have. Can he swear never telling it again? Yeah? Good. In my opinion she’s perfect for him.
About their relationship, it seems important to mention that contrary to many YA books, the author didn’t take the simplistic approach of the overwhelming romance we often find : indeed instead of creating a new romance, he chose to show us the developments of an already existing relationship, adding more depth to its treatment in my opinion.
“Maybe it was a guy/girl thing.
He hoped that’s all it was. What if it was a predator/prey thing? A human thing? What if he was losing his connection to her? God, don’t let that be.”
► Evidences aka what you must know about the plot
✔ There’s a serial-killer running in the wild, and Jazz’s mission is to catch him. Or so he thinks. Did I guess who the killer was? Nope, but then, I’m all kinds of stupid with thriller sometimes, and most of the readers guessed earlier. Now, I don’t think guessing would spoil the read because what’s important here is the journey through Jazz’s mind in my opinion. That’s where this book is filled with originality. You want to read a regular investigation? Go in the bookstore, check the thrillers. There’s tons of them. Will you find other Jaspers? I don’t think so.
✔ I can’t deny that the way police officers let Jazz investigate can appear completely unbelievable, being a teenager and all.
✔ Of course we can wonder WHY in the world doesn’t Jazz hide or, I don’t know, moves in another town. Let’s face it, if he did I wouldn’t write this review, because there would be no book, so, well… Moreover, I really think that guilt can grandly influence people behavior, so his need to show that he’s good, that he isn’t like his father? That’s believable to me.
✔ I developed an unhealthy crush on Jazz. Bad me.
Verdict : Why, of course I recommend.