Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Type: Hardcover, bought
What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?
Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.
But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could--from the criminal's point of view.
And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.
In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret--could he be more like his father than anyone knows?
There are a lot of reasons to love this book.
You can love it because it's unabashedly gory, but not in a senseless manner. It's not gore simply for the sake of gore. It's just honest detail, a refusal to censor the horror of a serial killer's deeds.
You can love it because it presents a compelling mystery, one that was terrifying, unpredictable, and completely satisfying.
You can love it because it's a brilliant mixture of dark and witty. The morbid humor is a fascinating counterbalance to the brutality pervading this novel. It switched so easily from light banter to gruesome murder and heavy contemplation, without seeming corny or forced. Rather, the abrupt switch from light to darkness made the darkness all the more terrifying.
You can love it because the characters are complex and lovable and remarkably flawed, in that way only real people are.
Or if you're feeling shallow and easily distractable, you can love it because it's got the coolest fucking cover art in existence.
But the reason I loved this novel as much as I did was the painfully realistic portrayal of Jazz's character. Jazz is one of the most disturbed, imperfect protagonists you could possibly find, and I felt that Barry Lyga absolutely nailed him. Everything. Every aspect of his thoughts, his words, his actions. If there was a boy who'd been raised by the most horrible serial killer the world had ever seen, this is precisely how he would be.
Throughout the novel, Jazz faces the dilemma of whether or not he is doomed to follow in his father's footsteps. Whether or not him becoming a murder is a possibility or inevitability. Whether or not he is a sociopath. Whether or not he can care.
And I can tell you from experience that Barry Lyga captured those feelings perfectly.
The following is rather personal, but it's the reason I was so very impressed by Mr. Lyga's skill in the creation of Jazz's character. If you don't wish to read this, you can skip to the bottom.
The thing is that I have been called a sociopath several times. At a relatively young age. By parents. And when a ten- or eleven-year-old is called a sociopath, it makes them seriously consider the possibility. What if they're right? What if I am a sociopath? What if the way I act, the way I feel, is just a show?
Do I care about others, or do I simply think I do because that's what's expected of me?
Do I care, period?
Do sociopaths worry about being sociopaths?
And this struggle is written so perfectly in the character of Jazz that I was honestly stunned. It gave him a new depth, and a remarkable relatability, even to those who haven't been confronted with this exact question. At the heart of this is the more general dilemma of Will I follow in my parent's footsteps? Am I my own person, or what they made me?
That gave the novel an unexpected thoughtfulness and poignancy to accompany the gory murder.
Would I recommend this? Yes. Yes. Yes. I would recommend this a million times over. Will everyone be able to read this? No. Definitely not. This is not a novel for the faint of heart; it is very, very graphic, and if you can't handle that, this will not be the novel for you.
But if you can, I suspect you will love every last gruesome detail.