Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

On Serial Killers & Book Recs

I don’t do proper reviews. In truth, I rarely even name 90% of the books I read, but there are those books that stand out, books that make me feel COMPELLED to recommend them. Recently, I read an early copy of Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers.**  When I'd heard about the book, I liked the idea of it and hoped it would be interesting. It was . . . but it was so much more than that. 

If you know me, you know that I’m fascinated by serial killers. I read bios, histories, and fictional accounts. If I watch TV, I like Criminal Minds or one of those movies my spouse calls “horror for women” (ie stalker, serials, etc). One of my exes back in my 20s was an older man who’d done over a decade in a maxi security prison (not for murder!), and I used to nag him to regale me with stories of the serials he’d been in with.***  In other words, I have high hopes when it comes to serial stories.

I taught Joyce Carol Oates’ brilliant short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” regularly when I taught university, but I have had a hard time finding a serial book that hit all the right notes for me. I wanted beautifully constructed, compelling, and emotionally satisfying. I wanted chills, but not the cheap sort. I wanted A LOT.  My standards were unfairly high.

To make matters more difficult, I Hunt Killers was aiming to integrate the disturbing realities of serial killing into a Young Adult novel.  I had worries. Will the book avoid maudlin or gratuitous content? Can the plot be intricate enough to make me turn the pages? Will the protagonist be believable without being unsympathetic? Lyga satisfied every one of my requirements.

I read all but 60 pages of it one evening, and then decided I had to stop to avoid dreaming of death. An hour passed. I realized I couldn’t wait till daylight to finish. A few days later I handed the book to my 18 year old daughter. Asia’s a critical reader, preferring Shakespeare and Faulkner to YA books these days. She read I Hunt Killers cover-to-cover in one sitting. This one is a well-written, intense page-turner. 

** I don’t know the author and have never read his prior books. I received the book from the kind folks at one of my publishing houses (Little, Brown).

***: I don’t recommend dating ex-cons as a rule, but I was young and on a self-destruct kick back then. Note Part 2: Ink Exchange is dedicated to said ex-con, & if you catch me on an open day, I might admit that Irial’s character may be more than a little influenced by him.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 5th, 2012 08:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks to you AND Asia!
Wow, I don't know what to say! I love bringing mother and daughter closer together through bloody, gruesome death. :)

Thanks, Melissa. And thanks Asia, too! Glad you both enjoyed the book!

Mar. 5th, 2012 09:01 pm (UTC)
I think Lyga is one of those writers who just gets better with every book -- glad to hear that this one is a standout!
Mar. 5th, 2012 09:18 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you, jenlibrarian! I'm not objective enough to say whether that's true or not (sometimes I feel like I get worse with each book!), but I appreciate it...and that's certainly what I strive for!
Mar. 5th, 2012 10:21 pm (UTC)
I have this in my TBR pile and cannot wait to read it. When I saw it in the LB catalog, I knew I had to have a copy. Glad to hear it's so good- I may have to bump it up to the top!
Stephanie O'Neil
Mar. 6th, 2012 06:47 am (UTC)
I loved Boy Toy and can't wait for I Hunt Killers.
Jeanette Battista
Mar. 7th, 2012 02:23 am (UTC)
I have this one on my list of TBR. I'll have to bump it to the top of the list now. You know serial killers are my catnip.
Mar. 9th, 2012 01:34 am (UTC)
I just put myself on the list for it at my local library. I can't wait to read it! :)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )