A mostly Young Adult book review blog run by a mother and daughter team.
I was in love with the first novel in Barry Lyga’s serial killer series I Hunt Killers. It had everything and as a reader who likes bad guys that are absolutely bad to the bone I fell hard for the killers introduced in the first novel and the ending that left me wondering one thing: What will happen next? I mean come on Billy Dent escaped from prison, people are getting murdered left and right and Jazz is doubting himself once again. Something bad is about to happen and it’ll be something that goes from bad to worse. Game is the novel that gives us the bad, I’m positive that the next novel in the series will give us the worse and I have to admit, Game has set the bar pretty high already.
Game begins basically right where I Hunt Killers ended. Billy Dent is somewhere in the world planning to kill to his heart’s content and he wants to see if his son will continue on with the family business. Jazz is still recovering from his experience with the Impressionist when he meets a cop from New York City that reveals to Jazz that a new serial killer is out on the loose. The Hat-Dog killer has been leaving corpses scattered around New York City and nobody can understand what his profile is or why he kills the way he kills. Jazz and his girlfriend Connie end up on a plane to go and help NYPD with their investigation.
It doesn’t take Jazz long to figure out that the Hat-Dog killer must have something involved with Billy somewhere. Nothing adds up when it comes to the Hat-Dog killer’s murders. He mutilates the bodies of his victims and does things to them that are plain disturbing, but Jazz is intent on figuring out the Hat-Dog killer’s profile and stopping him before he can kill anybody else. Then Jazz and Connie begin to receive strange messages about a game and while Jazz continues investigating in New York, Connie is dragged into the world of serial killers. Receiving mysterious text messages, Connie winds up trapped in a game meant for just her and a killer. Jazz and Connie both know that the games these killers are playing are not meant for everybody, but the consequences of not playing are fatal.
Remember everything that you read in I Hunt Killers? Remember the way your eyes would widen when reading about a certain murder scene or the way your heart would race when you read chapters in the killer’s point of view? Yeah, multiply that by twelve because Game absolutely brings it! The murders are more gruesome, more intense and more cringe-worthy. Just like something out an episode of CSI that meets the Saw movies. The killers in Game mean business. There is no hesitation, they know that they’re doing is bad (mostly) and they know that in the end taking a life is just something that they have to do. It is part of the game after all.
We finally get to meet Billy Dent. We did get to see the prison scene with him in I Hunt Killers but that barely told us anything about his character except that he’s the world’s worst dad. Now there are chapters that take place in his head! Finally we get to see just what it is that Billy Dent thinks when he’s alone and we see just how deep his obsession with making Jasper just like him lies. There are still chapters in the point of view of another killer, instead of the Impressionist it is the Hat-Dog killer. The Hat-Dog killer was a character that boggled my mind and left me with a furrowed brow and going “Huh?” Despite how creepy (and gross) the murders were, the Hat-Dog killer is still one that had me afraid and who doesn’t want to be afraid when reading a novel about killers?
I Hunt Killers had a limited amount of POVs (point of views). They really were just Jazz and the Impressionist. In Game we get to see things through the eyes of all the killers, our main character and the two people closest to Jazz: Connie and Howie. I loved getting to see the I Hunt Killers world through the eyes of characters that don’t have Jazz’s history or mind. Plus, I really liked Connie in the last book and I think that female readers will absolutely love how strong and empowering she is as a character. She even gets dragged into Jazz’s messed up world of killers and ends up stuck in a game, intent on finding the identity of the killer she’s dealing with. We learn a lot about Jazz’s girlfriend to say the least. As for Howie, his mind is an absolute laugh riot. I found his thoughts to be hilarious and appropriate for a teenage guy his age.
And that ending! Gah!!! I need more, so help me I don’t think I can wait any longer to know what happens next!!!! Who lives? Who dies? Does Jazz save the day or succumb to everything Billy ever taught him? Will the truth be released? Tell me!! Anyhow, if you liked the mystery that was in I Hunt Killers and the mind-games that went down in the last novel then you’ll probably fall hard for Game. I had absolutely no problems with the novel and devoured it in just one day.
I’d recommend this series to fans of Greg Olsen’s Empty Coffin series, readers who are looking for an intensely good mystery/thriller novel and readers who are looking for a dark read that will have them second-guessing just about everything they know about the people around them.