Something Wicked Strikes Day 23 is here! I must admit, I am having a total fangirl moment here. I am so thrilled to have Barry Lyga on the blog today. I have fallen in love with his I Hunt Killers Trilogy. It is awesome story telling, terrific characters and an oh so chilling villain. If you haven't checked out this smart, sophisticated series, I urge you to do so. Before we get to Barry's post, I want to you to be sure to visit these stops today:
Beth@ Curling Up With A Good Book: Compulsion by Emily Goodwin
Candace @ Candace's Book Blog: Katie Cross
Now on to today's post. I have long been fascinated by serial killers. Why? Shrugs... perhaps it is because I grew up in the eighties when serial killers were running rampant. Names like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Son of Sam, The Hillside Strangler are just a few of the serial killers that terrorized the country in the 1980s. As child, these monsters gave me nightmares. Along with the serial killers, we had plenty of kidnappers. Was there truly a spike in serial killers during this era or was it more publicity and sensationalism? Did the media attention lead to more serial killers? What motivates these men to kill? So many questions surrounding the serial killer. What makes a serial killer even more frightening is that they are out there amongst us, blending in. One could be your neighbor, or worse yet, you could be living with one. How creepy is that? Today's book: Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga is all about the horrible monster known as the serial killer. In Lyga's brilliant I Hunt Killers Trilogy, Lyga explores the age old question as to what makes a serial killer tick. Is a serial killer born a murderer or are they the product of their environment? Somehow, I don't think we will be learning the truth to this tangled question anytime soon. However, Lyga gives his thoughts on the topic. Anyway enough babbling.... I need to get to the point and introduce Barry Lyga:
Barry Lyga is a recovering comic book geek. According to Kirkus, he's also a "YA rebel-author." Somehow, the two just don't seem to go together to him. When he was a kid, everyone told him that comic books were garbage and would rot his brain, but he had the last laugh. Raised on a steady diet of comics, he worked in the comic book industry for ten years, but now writes full-time because, well, wouldn't you? The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy & Goth Girl is his first novel. Barry also writes the brilliant young adult series: I Hunt Killers. There are a whole bunch in between, featuring everything from the aftermath of child abuse to pre-teens with superpowers to serial killers. He clearly does not know how to stick to one subject. Find Barry on his website, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Goodreads.
Here is Barry on Serial Killers:
I wish I could tell you how I think like a serial killer or what it’s like to think like one…but unless you’ve done it, it’s sort of impossible to explain. And if you’ve done it, you don’t need me to tell you how.
I wish I could tell you my thoughts on nature vs. nurture, but it took me over a thousand pages of fiction to do that. If I could have done it in a blog post, I would have saved myself a lot of time.
But here’s what I can tell you:
Someone recently asked me if researching and writing the I Hunt Killers series had any sort of lasting effect on me. And I blurted out, “I see victims everywhere.”
In blurting, there is truth!
Given the psychological and anatomical shenanigans in the Killers series, I think people want to hear that I’ve been somehow disturbed or emotionally scarred in the process of writing this series. To which I say, “Nah.” I’ve joked with friends that I must have been born without a soul because writing this stuff does precisely zip to me. I sleep just fine at night, thank you very much.
But it’s true that I see the world a little differently now. Not through traumatized eyes, mind you — just through more informed ones.
Researching I Hunt Killers taught me many things (like how to remove human eyeballs, intact), but chief among them was this: People are really easy to kill. Like, really, really easy. Serial killers get away with their crimes because, in general, we don’t expect them. We’re not prepared. Ted Bundy used to wear a fake cast on his arm so that the women he approached would think he was harmless.
Think about that. A fake cast. That’s all it took. That was his genius plan — pretend to have a broken arm.
It sounds stupid when you think about it, but it worked to the tune of at least thirty women (probably more).
In Game, Jazz realizes that New York City is hell for someone like him. There are so many people, he reasons, that no one would notice if one vanished.
Or a hundred.
I didn’t make that up. People disappear in New York all the time. Sometimes they’re missed; sometimes not. Sometimes they show up again — alive or dead — and sometimes they just melt into the mists of history, like Jimmy Hoffas that no one can be bothered to write books about.
It’s a hard world with sharp edges, and in this world live a great mass of very fragile people.
When you write a serial killer series and you have a great deal of gruesome facts at your command, it can be easy to deflect by being funny or coy. Ever notice how people laugh in a scary movie right after they scream? It’s a defense mechanism. “I’m OK. What just happened on screen isn’t real. It can’t happen to me.”
But the stuff I wrote about… Not only could it happen to you, but a lot of it has happened to people just like you. I salted the series liberally with facts from the history of serial murder, not because I wanted to show off my mad research skills, but to remind people: This is real. My characters are not vampires or werewolves or post-apocalyptic demons. They are real people. This all happens.
“How can you write this stuff?” people ask, conveniently forgetting that I am, on some level, transcribing reality. How can I write this stuff? That’s the wrong question. If we lived in a world without serial killers, then, sure, ask me that. In that world, it would be beyond bizarre and frightening to have these thoughts in my head.
But in our world? In the world of Bundy and Dahmer and Rader and Berkowitz and Holmes?
The question isn’t “How can you write this stuff?” It’s “How can this stuff happen?”
For that, I have no answers. None at all. All I can do is speculate on the page and spin a yarn and see what happens.
I see victims everywhere. For me, that’s the legacy of writing this series. Not “how to think like a serial killer” or even “how to get away with murder.” I wish I could tell you something cool or funny or erudite. Something witty or pithy. But this is what I came away with:
Hard world. Sharp edges.
Fragile people. Very fragile.
Scary stuff! A huge thanks to Barry for taking time out of his busy schedule to post here today. I cannot tell you how much I loved his series. It has landed on my all time favorites list. I am such a fan of this series that I want to offer a chance for one lucky winner to receive their choice of book from the I Hunt Killers Trilogy by Barry Lyga. This giveaway is open Internationally as long as the Book Depository or Amazon ships to you. To enter read the Contest Policies and fill out the Rafflecopter.
Here is my review:
Blood of My Blood (I Hunt Killers #3) by Barry Lyga
The game is over in this heart-pounding finale to the I Hunt Killers trilogy.
Jazz Dent has been shot and left to die in New York City.
His girlfriend, Connie, is in the clutches of Jazzs serial killer father, Billy. And his best friend Howie is bleeding to death on the floor of Jazzs own home in tiny Lobos Nod.
Somehow, these three must rise above the horrors their lives have become and find a way to come together in pursuit of Billy.
But then Jazz crosses a line hes never crossed before, and soon the entire country is wondering: Like father, like son?
Who is the true monster?
The chase is on, and beyond Billy there lurks something much, much worse.
Prepare to meet the Crow King.
Published September 9th 2014 by Blackstone Audiobooks
Jazz is left bleeding with two corpses in a locked storage unit, Howie is unconscious and bleeding profusely, and Connie has just come face to face with a monster. Things look bleak for our three heroes as the curtain opens......Will the trio live to fight another day against the monsters who walk amongst us? Those twisted sociopaths who murder for fun, preying upon the weak, can they be stopped? Will the truth destroy Jazz or set him free?
What I Liked:
- At last, after numerous heart pounding cliffhangers, the final book in the I Hunt Killers Trilogy delivers all the long awaited answers. I can't tell you how much I loved this smart, sophisticated, original series. This is a thrilling must read series for adults as well as teens. It is brilliantly executed, well written and so fascinating. I promise, you will be looking twice at your neighbors and the people you interact with on a daily basis after reading these books as a serial killer can blend in and be living right next door to you. If you are craving something suspenseful, smart and memorable, I urge you to check out this outstanding series. It has earned a coveted spot on my favorites shelf.
- The characters make this series. At the heart of the story is Jasper Dent. The son of one of the most notorious serial killers to date. Jazz was raised by a monster and schooled on the art of murder, but Jazz has always fought against his nurture. He wants more than anything to prove he is not his father, nor is he a monster. I loved watching Jazz constantly struggle with his nature vs. nurture issues. His girlfriend, Connie, is at his side, loving and supporting him even at risk to her own life. She refuses to believe the rumors, and instead chooses to see the good man inside. Howie, is one of my all time favorite side kicks ever. I can't tell you how much I adore Howie. He is Jazz's best friend, a hemophiliac and the type of person you want in your corner. Howie's humor and quips always make me giggle. I love him. I cannot forget to mention Billy Dent, Jazz's father. Billy is fascinating, horrifying and likable all in one. Sound hard to believe? I know, but you have to experience him to understand. I loved getting inside the head of a serial killer/sociopath and seeing how he viewed the world. Charlie Thurston's (the audiobook narrator) characterization of Billy is top notch. I think the way Charlie personifies Billy is brilliant. I would highly recommend the audiobooks in order to experience Thurston's amazing talent.
- The story in this one is deeper and darker, though it isn't as gory as its two predecessors (whew). Instead, we slowly uncover the dark mysteries surrounding Billy Dent, Ugly J and Jazz's past. The psychological elements are absolutely shocking. Some parts were hard to stomach, especially when it comes to the depravity, cruelty and abuse to a young boy. It never ceases to amaze me how evil humans can be. Lyga takes us into the corrupt and perverted minds of serial killers, a terrifying, haunting yet fascinating journey. One you must experience for yourself.
- Jazz's story is hard at times to witness. I have been cheering for him during the course of three books. He is a boy with two strikes against him as he bears the genes of a serial killer and was reared by one. Jazz continually fights to overcome his demons, but this book, his burdens become too big. Jazz spirals into darkness and madness, and I shuddered as I watched him decline. Would he finally cave in and be the monster everyone predicts? His journey is one of growth, transformation, courage and sheer determination. Jazz is a character you can't help but to admire and love.
- The overall story is packed with plenty of twists, turns and shocking reveals. Mr. Lyga excels at writing heart stopping scenes which end on a cliffhanger and cut away to another view point, making you continue to read well past your bed time. Once you pick this up, you won't want to put it down. The suspense is riveting and the story is one heck of a ride. I loved every minute of it.
- The book winds down and closes with an Epilogue five years down the road. I was pleased to get a glimpse of the gang and see how they fared. Almost all my questions were answered, and I closed the book satisfied.
- I once again listened to the audiobook version, and I cannot recommend the audiobooks enough. Charlie Thurston narrates all three books, and he is absolutely bloody brilliant. His voice for Billy is amazing. If you endeavor to read this series, I suggest trying the audiobooks. Charlie Thurston is without a doubt a narrator I will be revisiting in the future.
And The Not So Much:
- At the heart of the story is the mystery surrounding the identity of Ugly J, another serial killer. I was a bit disappointed that it was rather easy to figure who Ugly J was. I knew immediately, despite the efforts of Lyga to throw me off the trail. I wished that there had been more shock at the final unmasking.
- Even though I liked the Epilogue, I was still left with a few niggling questions and a bit disappointed that there was no further discussion on Billy or G. William. I felt like there was still more story to tell, but part of that is because I am remiss to say goodbye to these characters and this series.
- There are many tantalizing glimpses into Billy's past, and I couldn't help but to want more. I wanted to know more about his relationship with his father, how and when he met Ugly J and so forth.
- This series is listed as Young Adult, but I assure you, this is a series that should be read by adults as well. It is so smart and fascinating. I loved that it explores the minds of sociopaths, and that it tackles the long standing debate of nature vs. nurture. This is an intelligent series that will stick with you long after the final pages. I cannot recommend it enough. Please don't overlook this series if you are an adult.
Blood of My Blood is a thrilling and satisfying conclusion to an outstanding, sophisticated and chilling series. Take a look into the mind of a sociopath and see what makes a serial killer tick. There are so many psychological issues to explore in this suspenseful series, and I assure you, it will linger in your mind for days after reading it. The audiobooks are excellent, and if you are going to tackle this series, I highly recommend the audiobook versions. I applaud Mr. Lyga for writing such an original YA series and for daring to push the boundaries in the genre. I assure you that I will be reading his future works as I was utterly impressed with this series.
I purchased an audiobook copy of this book. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
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