Thursday, June 21, 2012

Audiobook review: I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)



I Hunt KillersAuthor: Barry Lyga
Narrator: Charlie Thurston
Publication date: April 3rd 2012
Publisher: Hachette Audio
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Jasper “Jazz” Dent was raised by his father Billy, one of the world’s most violent serial killers. While other kids were riding bikes and playing, Jazz was taking care of his father’s murder trophies and learning how to become an invisible, invincible predator. When Jasper was twelve, Billy finally escalated and got caught by the local sheriff, G. William. Four years later, Jazz is still tormented by his father’s teachings, and his only goal is to escape Billy Dent’s legacy. He needs to remind himself over and over again that people matter, especially when a new killer starts imitating Billy’s crimes. Jasper is the first to notice the pattern and as the bodies start piling up, he becomes obsessed with stopping the copycat.

In Jasper, Lyga created a well-rounded, consistent and truly believable character. He is smart and incredibly observant, but severely damaged, and very easy to love. But he's not the only one worth mentioning. Of all the fabulous characters that were built around Jazz, his girlfriend Connie was the one who really stole my heart. It is rare that a teen character, especially a secondary character, is so strong, self-assured and genuinely kind. Jazz is convinced that she’s the one keeping him sane and grounded (or as sane as he can be), and I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with him. As much as I loved Jazz’s best friend Howie (and really, how does a serial killer’s son get a type A hemophiliac for his best friend?), Connie is one of those characters that make me proud to be a woman.

Getting brief glimpses of the killer’s point of view is certainly not uncommon in crime novels, and I can think of at least ten cases when I really appreciated the insight. Usually, these chapters are either about the gore or about allowing the reader to really feel the fear of the victims. This time, however, I didn’t feel that the few brief passages told from The Impressionist’s point of view brought anything useful to the story. Yes, they were interesting, but they were mostly about The Impressionist's obsession with Jazz himself, which is something we could have figured out on our own. We saw the gory details through Jazz’s eyes (and memories) anyway. There was, however, one thing Lyga did better than most: while Jazz was investigating, even when he was one step ahead of the police, Barry Lyga never made the police look stupid and incompetent. He found a way to create a hero that is special in some way without degrading the small-town sheriff and his people.

The narrator, Charlie Thurston, did an amazing job differentiating the voices of all the characters. He didn’t just change his voice, he slightly changed his accent too, and he adapted it to each character according to age and education. The changes in accents were minute, but they were there, and they were very impressive. He also handled the emotional scenes in a way that made me believe and really feel them. My only problem is that he made Billy Dent, Jazz’s personal boogeyman and the world’s most notorious serial killer sound funny! I’m not sure if this is an audio issue or a book issue, which is why I’d like to hear from those of you who’ve read the book. Regardless, the next time I see the name Charlie Thurston on an audiobook, I won’t hesitate to pick it up.





25 comments:

  1. I have this book in my reading pile and I have yet to start it. I might have to read it next week.
    Jazz sounds like a flawed but highly interesting character. I can't wait to get to see his thoughts.
    Connie sounds like a remarkable young woman as well. :)
    I'm so glad that the police are not belittled in this book. I know so many crime books where they are made to appear downright idiotic.
    Great review, Maja ! :)
    You've convinced me to read the book soon !

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  2. I've heard nothing but praise for this book, I'm not usually one for serial killer books, but with loveable characters and it being a hilarious read too, I can't wait to get to this!

    Also you're reading Night Beach???? Yay!! Can't wait to hear your thoughts on it! :)

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  3. Great review. I really must read this book asap. I'm highly interested in how the author managed to conceptualized a character so closely related to a psychotic killer without him losing his own mind. I've never seen an episode of Dexter and I've heard talks about this having the same vibe.

    Thanks for sharing. :)

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  4. Yay! I love that this book doesn't degrade police! It sounds like a wonderful book and I like how you reviewed the audio reader!

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  5. I loved Connie too! She was a great addition, definitely.
    I read the book but I don't remember Billy ever coming across as funny. Slightly creepy? Yes. haha

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  6. Great review! This was such a fantastic novel. I loved the complexity of Lyga's characters, and the humor mixed with horror. While I agree that the Impressionist's POV was not strictly necessary, I think Lyga probably included it to foreshadow some later Billy-related events. I suppose we shall see. :D

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  7. Oh yay! I'm so glad that the audio of this one is good because I'm on hold for it right now. After yours and Flannery's reviews I can't wait to listen to it! It's been way too long since I read a mystery. Loved the review today Maja!

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  8. A lovely review, Maja! I'm glad you ended up liking this. I have a copy to get round to soon (hopefully) and look forward to meeting both Jazz and Connie. It's so nice when the secondary characters manage to leave an impression. I can't wait to read this!

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  9. This sounds really good. Not what I would usually read but you have me curious now. Great review!

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  10. I really loved this book. Glad you enjoyed it too. Sounds like a good audiobook version too-good narrators always make a book. I definitely think I have to listen to his voice for Billy. Great review!

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  11. Oh, you listened to this?! I didn't even know you were reading it. No, I don't really remember Billy being funny at all. I actually remember him being pretty scary, actually. I agree with you about the police thing--they aren't idiots and they are always trying to get Jazz the heck out of there. I hate when teens are solving crimes in YA books and the police totally defer to them. Ridiculous. At least here there was a reason Jazz knew a lot about the crimes.

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    1. Probably an audio thing then. It's just the tone and the accent he used for Billy in Jazz's memories: the 'wakey, wakey, Jasper' kept making me chuckle.
      Later (you know when) it wasn't funny at all.

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  12. I couldn't tell you about about the book, as I haven't read it, but I really really want too. I'm glad you enjoyed it and that the audiobook was good too. I really need to check out an audiobook for once in my life. LOL

    Great review,

    Lauren

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  13. I finally got a copy of this last week. My inner psychologist is itching to read this. I did a whole research paper on serial killers and the nature vs. nurture issue. I can't wait to see how it is addressed in this book. I kind of thinking turning the serial killer comical is funny! Glad this was a good read for you!

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    1. Well, it's sort of nature AND nurture here, since Billy, aside from passing on the genes, raised Jasper, at least until he was 12.
      I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by this, Heidi.

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  14. This sounds incredible, Maja! Ive been wanting to read this for a while! I'm so glad Jazz is a well developed character and Connie sounds AMAZING! I cannot wait to meet her. She sounds like a really strong and extraordinarily incredible person. Good to hear that they did a good job on the audiobook as well. I cannot wait to read it!

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  15. I don't really listen to audiobooks because I tend to let my mind wander while reading (it results in having to reread pages) and last time I listened to an audiobook, it was White Cat and I had to pay attention to actually know what was going on. It took a LOT out of me.

    But! I'm glad to know that Charlie Thurston is a good audiobook reader.

    I have I Hunt Killers on my shelf, just waiting for me to read it. I've read the first paragraph a few times, but I need to make a schedule in order to actually read it. I'm sure I'll love it--everybody has such great things to say about it--I just am afraid I'll be the one person who doesn't like it. So yeah, I'm avoiding it. But I'm glad you liked it! Maybe I'll get over my fear and start it. . .

    Ashelynn @ gypsy book reviews.

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  16. Wasn't Connie amazing??? I just couldn't get over how badass she was, yet how utterly amazing and grounding and kind to Jazz too! And even though I was wondering the same thing about Howie, I seriously LOVED him -- whenever he went into his ridiculously ramblings, I'd always wonder why I don't have a friend like him! He's just the silliest crime sidekick ever :')

    Amazing review, Maja! <3 LOL and I'm 99.99% sure I didn't find Billy funny. There was a certain point in the book where I was tempted to check to make sure all my windows were shut but was too afraid to get close! x)

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  17. Is it too terrible of me not to have heard of this book before? But I feel I need to remedy that right away. I mean, it looks really unique. I'm usually not much for crime stories, but I love strong, well-developped characters... which means I need to this this one a shot.

    Plus, it's available on audio with a good narrator (do you know how many books have been ruined by monotone narrators? Hundreds, I tell you! Hundreds!)

    Thanks so much for sharing, Maja!

    Ps. I'm being a nuisance. I just changed the address for my book blog... Now, roncnieto.com is my author website and storiesofmylife.roncnieto.com is the good old review site. Just letting you know since you have my button there :)

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  18. Yet another Maja-recommended book I have to add to my to-read list. **Sighs** You're so bad for my book budget!!! Lol.

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  19. audio books r always fun if done right
    gr8 review
    hope i'll read it soon

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  20. Hahaha, I really didn't think Dent sounded 'funny' when reading the book! Not at all, he was crazy pants, but in a total scary psycho way. Isn't it funny how narrative choice can completely change the way you see a certain character? Glad to hear this one was decent on audio though! LOVE your appreciation for Connie, and I agree with everything you said 100%. Since there will be sequel(s) to this one, I'm hoping perhaps that she's more prominent in some of them.

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  21. I don't read books about serial killers or forensic science mysteries, but this book really surprised me in a good way. I love how the suspense and horror aren't really from the gruesome murders, but rather the psychology behind the madness and crime. I'm really looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

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  22. Gosh, Maja, I really want to read this book. I can't wait to get to know Jazz, who sounds so complex, and Connie, mostly because you mentioned how proud she made you! This book sounds amazing. I have another book by Barry, but haven't read it yet, though I have high hopes.

    Fantastic review, I might even try the audio version!

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  23. Oh! I think I'd love to try this one on audio, especially with that kind of narrator.

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