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“Jazz felt as though his own life was a minefield, one he'd lost the map for. One wrong step and he'd lose a foot or leg. Or his mind.” —Game
I Hunt Killers #2
by Barry Lyga
AR Test, Diverse Characters
In this second installment, the basic set up of the story has not changed. It is Jasper hunting a serial killer, this time the Hat-Dog killer who has been terrorizing New York. Jasper is brought on as a consultant by the NYPD. Outside of that story arc Jasper also has to deal with the fact that his famous serial killer dad, Billy Dent, has escaped from prison and is now on the loose!
Seventeen-year-old Jazz, the son of the world’s most prolific serial killer, is called to New York. The NYPD need Jazz’s help finding the Hat-Dog killer, who has been terrorizing New York. Along with finding the killer, Jazz also must help find his father, Billy Dent, who has escaped from prison.
Jazz brings his girlfriend Connie to help with the case. Soon, Connie is receiving mysterious information about Jazz. Connie drags in Jazz’s friend, Howie. All three teens are trying to help find the killer. To solve the murders, Jazz must work with a hardened New York cop and an FBI agent seeking revenge on Billy Dent. By the end of the novel, Jazz and his friends have only just begun unraveling the mystery of his father, the killing game, and everything involved with the killings in New York.
Game keeps readers’ attention better than the first book in the series, I Hunt Killers. The engaging story gives the perspective of the people tracking the killers as well as the perspectives of the killers themselves. Even with all this information, it’s still a mystery as to what’s going on. Lyga keeps giving almost enough clues to figure out the mystery, but readers just can’t piece it all together.
Unlike the first book, we get a slightly expanded POV cast. Jasper’s girlfriend Connie and his best friend Howie are also featured and have a few mysteries of their own to deal with in their home town.
One of the novel’s most gripping elements is the number of twists that keep arriving. Similar to the first book, it’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen because of the insanity of it all. Jazz is dealing with serial killers, and their minds are nearly impossible to understand. Each event that unfolds seems like it’s as bad as it gets, but another gruesome murder or unforeseen twist always comes up.
Game features relatable characters; Connie and Howie both face problems with their parents and peers that normal teenagers would go through as well. The novel is an exciting, engaging read with an excessive amount of profane language and gore. The mystery will keep readers interested as they try to understand the clues. Readers will want to use caution since Game is a gory, brutal story told in a fittingly brutal way.
- Jazz has recurring sexual dreams throughout the novel that include sentences like, “his fingers glide over the warm, supple flesh. . . his skin on hers. . .”
- When they were talking, Jazz “kissed the back of [Connie’s] neck.”
- Connie considers Jazz a, “sexy, brooding boyfriend who didn’t realize exactly how sexy and brooding he was.”
- Billy has a career of, “raping, torturing, and murdering mostly young women.”
- Howie orders, “dirty movies on pay-per-view.”
- Howie thinks that his hemophilia means that girls are, “much less willing to get naked and sweaty with him in the way nature prescribed.”
- When they are alone in a hotel room, Hughes urges Jazz and Connie to “use protection.”
- When Connie and Jazz are in bed together, she tells him, “We’re just gonna get real close and mess up one of the beds, is all.”
- One of the serial killers, “rapes the women, makes up for it by castrating the men.”
- Jazz wishes, “he’d thought to bring condoms.”
- Jazz thinks about Billy’s voice, “urging him to sucker Connie’s legs apart and slide between them.”
- When Jazz and Connie are sleeping together, “he kissed her and she kissed back just as urgently and fumbled with the drawstring on his pajama bottoms and reached for him there. . .” Jazz doesn’t allow it to escalate any further.
- Connie tells Jazz that she “brought condoms” and “knew [they’d] be alone here.”
- Connie thinks, “they were ready for the next step, and once she knew that, she was desperate for it.”
- Connie calls their time in bed together, “a late-night/early morning grope-fest.”
- Jazz remembers how he and Connie were, “reaching for each other. Familiar touches gone explosively unfamiliar, explosively craved.”
- Jazz opens his email to find, “spam and porn links from Howie.”
- Jazz tells Connie, “Your boobs are pretty big.”
- Howie says he will “sleep with” and “knock up” Samantha.
- Connie theorizes about a serial killer. “Maybe tough chicks make his little pee-pee hard.”
- Connie asks that Howie, “stop thinking with the contents of [his] jock strap for a second.”
- Connie also asks that they, “just stipulate that [Howie] made a killer double entendre with ‘rubbed off.’”
- Howie makes an innuendo. “Because you know what they say about guys with big feet.”
- A serial killer has his, “underpants dropped to his ankles” and “his turgid junk gripped in one hand and waving proudly.”
- Hughes tells Jazz, “no one had to clean up [the killer’s] grungy spooge.”
- Billy asks if Connie likes to “go all ghetto in bed” with Jazz.
- “Jazz did wonder about Morales’s breasts.”
- Jazz wonders, “Would it be terribly stereotypical – as a guy and as a potential future serial killer – to steal a pair of used panties?”
- Howie thinks about, “Billy Dent doing his own sister.”
- The book opens with a killer who “decided on the left hip” and “began to carve” a woman he took captive.
- There are numerous descriptions of violent events, including a killer who, “had removed the eyelids first” and “opened [Jerome’s] gut.”
- In addition to the actions of killers, gruesome descriptions of dead bodies are provided, including the image of a serial killer reaching into, “a blood-slippery mass of intestines from the thing’s [victim’s] open cavity” and a body “slit open from breastbone to waist, the gaping wound of her gut revealing the shiny-slick loops of intestines.”
- Howie, a hemophiliac, recounts a time when kids were, “poking bruises into [his] arms.”
- When a police officer enters their house, Jazz’s grandmother yells at Jazz to “gut him!”
- Jazz has memories and dreams that involve, “the knife meeting the flesh. . . then parting it.”
- Descriptions of crime scenes include things like “lots of mutilation” and “maiming,” as well as more specific details like “disemboweling.”
- Jazz compares serial killers to Jeffrey Dahmer- “drilling holes in the heads of corpses in an attempt to make sex zombies.”
- A victim has, “her throat slit with a precision Jazz couldn’t help but admire.”
- Multiple victims’ “genitals had been excised.”
- “A crude dog had been carved into [a victim’s] shoulder.”
- “Slashing wounds gave way to multiple stab wounds, choking, and – later – disembowelment.”
- When comparing two rape scenes between a “hat” killer and a “dog” killer, an “ME found less vaginal tearing and few bruises than the hat.”
- A serial killer “killed,” “gutted,” and “de-eyed” one of his victims.
- An ME describes how a victim has “been enucleated,” which he explains, “means her eyes were taken out.”
- An ME recalls a story where, “some toes were missing and we found them in the victim’s throat.”
- A killer “leaves their [his victims] guts in a KFC bucket.”
- Jazz is shot, and there is a descriptive scene where, “blood had matted around the wound,” and pours bleach “right on the wound… to clean it.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Jazz says that Billy inhaled “a pot smoker’s hearty toke.”
- There is a large amount of profanity in the novel, including: dumbass, hell, damned, bastard, jackass, freaking, mofo, crap, smartass, poop, dyke, bastard, fucking, pissed, hardass, bitch, BS, goddamn, moron, and sumbitch.
- “We have every terrorist in the world gunning for this city… You want to know how many of them have succeeded? I’ll give you a hint: It starts with Z and ends with a fucking zero.”
- Connie says, “Jesus, Whiz. Talking to you is better than yoga sometimes.”
- Connie threatens Jazz by saying, “I’ll kick your ass so hard you’ll poop from the front.”
- Jazz offers to let Howie, “tattoo [his] freakin’ ass.”
- Hughes says that Morales is “a dyke, you know.”
- Howie thinks of himself as a “stupid, joking, horny, useless bleeder.”
- One of the serial killers refers to women as “whoresluts.”
- As he attempts to heal a bullet wound, Jazz yells, “Oh, Jesus Christ!”
- Samantha claims, “There isn’t a hell in the universe hot enough for [her] brother.”
- Whiz reminds Connie not to take “the Lord’s name in vain.”
by Dylan Chilcoat