Should You Read This Series? Jasper Dent by Barry Lyga

should you read this series

If you are a fan of Dexter, Criminal Minds, CSI and other forensic shows, this series is something to take a look at. The Jasper Dent series has three books: I Hunt Killers, Game, and Blood of My Blood.

Some warnings:

1. This is a pretty gruesome reading. If you are the least bit squeamish, this is not the series for you. If you can handle an episode of CSI, then you’ll probably enjoy this series.
2. Make sure that you have all the books on hand and readily available because Game ends on quite the cliffhanger.

i hunt killersBook One – I Hunt Killers

In I Hunt Killers, we are introduced to Jasper Dent. Jasper (Jazz) is not your ordinary 17 year old. Jasper has a fascination with murder scenes. You see, Jasper’s father was the notorious Billy Dent, the most prolific serial killer ever. As a young child, Jasper “played” with his father’s trophies and Jazz was being “groomed” to join the “family business.” Consequently, Jazz has a lot of insight into the mind of a serial killer – he lived with one for 13 years.

Jazz is an interesting character – he’s always afraid that something will snap and make him become a killer like his father. He’s haunted by dreams that include a knife in the kitchen sink and he’s afraid to have sex with his girlfriend Connie, just in case sex sets off the killer he believes to be within him. Jazz lives with his crazy and barely lucid grandmother in a small town. She is supposed to be his legal guardian, but Jazz takes care of her.

“The dice had already been tossed, the cards shuffled and drawn. He was what he was, whether he knew it or not. Maybe he was just a guy with a crazy dad, like other kids with crazy dads or maybe he was something else.”

I Hunt Killers focuses on a serial killer in Jasper’s town, who kills a little too much like Jasper’s father. The killer calls himself The Impressionist. Jazz is sure that he can help the local authorities to solve the case.

This book was like nothing I’ve read before in the Young Adult genre. Seriously, Jazz could have been Dexter’s son all grown up. The book is intense and the author kept me guessing the identity of the killer throughout (and I was wrong!). What a way to end a book – I’m glad that I had a copy of Game readily available.

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gameBook Two: Game

Game is a little different from I Hunt Killers as it reads more like a crime procedural novel. In Game, a serial killer is stalking residents of New York City and it appears that he is playing some kind of demented board game. Even though Jazz is underage and not really qualified, Jazz is asked to consult on the case. Jazz and his girlfriend Connie make the trip to New York.

This book is intense. It’s dark, creepy, and will keep you up at night. Jazz continues to struggle to stay real, always fearing that he will fall into the abyss and become like his father. He is lucky to have people around him who believe in him – G. William, Connie, and Howie.  This is where we see the pure, demented genius of Billy Dent as he orchestrates a killing spree that follows all the rules of a game. Freaky, scary stuff. 

Oh, this one ends with a huge cliffhanger. Make sure that you have the next book readily available.

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blood of my bloodBook Three: Blood of My Blood

This book kept me reading late into the night, which probably wasn’t the best planning because, well, Billy Dent is one freaky scary evil serial killer. Every sound and creak in the house made me jumpy, but I just had to finish reading this book. I won’t go into all the details, it is really best to read this book with a clear mind. So here’s a spoiler free impression of this book:

Jasper (Jazz) Dent is the son of the most prolific serial killer Billy Dent. Jazz has a special understanding of what goes on in the mind of serial killers, after all, he was raised and groomed by Billy to become a killer. But Jazz does not want to become a killer and he struggles with his humanity – trying to keep a handle on the voice in his head. Luckily, Jazz has some great people around him – his girlfriend Connie – who believes in him, no matter what, and his goofy and hemophiliac best bud Howie. Sheriff G. William Tanner has also become a father figure to Jazz. Jazz does have a special talent – he thinks like a serial killer. He understands how they think. And his special talent is needed in New York City where a serial killer has been up to no good. 

Think Dexter’s son meets Criminal Minds and you have an idea of what to expect in this book. It’s not for the squeamish and perhaps younger young adult readers may be disturbed by the content. If you can stand the blood and gore, this is one addictive series. 

Best of YA Contemp

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Should You Read This Series?

Go for it! While the content is dark and disturbing, I found that Jazz’s internal struggles with his father’s legacy both fascinating and heartbreaking. It really makes you think about nature vs nurture and if a person can overcome a horrible childhood and become a well adjusted adult.

Highly recommended.

Series Rating:  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for review copies of these books. 


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Comments 1

  • This series is on my to be read list. The premise is so interesting, and a comparison to Criminal Minds is enough to make me bump it up!

    I like the idea of a war within the hero (or anti-hero) in the book.