I love books with serial killers, especially those that give us a look inside their minds. A couple of examples are The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas...moreI love books with serial killers, especially those that give us a look inside their minds. A couple of examples are The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris, or the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay. Those are books that are written for, and marketed to, adults. Now, there's a great option for those who love to read YA fiction. I Hunt Killers delivers on all of the gritty murder scene details, crime scene investigation, and psychological motivations of serial killers, while also providing the perspective of a teenage boy. Sound good? It is.
Jazz is obsessed with serial killers, because his father is the most infamous serial killer in American history, and had been grooming Jazz to surpass even him. Jazz is constantly searching for validation that he won't become like his father, although he gets urges. Instead, Jazz focuses his need hunt another person on the new serial killer in town.
Lyga doesn't hold back on the details. It's all here, from the violence and even rape involved in the killing to the basic postmortem procedures, like autopsy. Teen readers won't feel cheated out of this information, and the book doesn't talk down to the YA audience. Instead, the YA focus comes from Jazz's age, his development of self-identity, and his interactions with his friends and authority figures in his life.
I Hunt Killers was just lighthearted enough to not be strangely morbid, but also not bogged down by the horror at play. This book will be popular with those who love reading about Dexter, or just like a good dark mystery thriller.(less)
Zombie was pitched to me as a coming-of-age story about a boy who is unable to relate to his father except through their mutual love of zombie movies....moreZombie was pitched to me as a coming-of-age story about a boy who is unable to relate to his father except through their mutual love of zombie movies. While that much is true, it does not even come close to really capturing this book. Believe me when I say that this is one seriously messed up novel. Parts of it reminded me of one of the Dexter books, although I won't say which one due to the risk of spoilers.
Zombie is told through the first-person perspective of Jeremy, a boy who is beginning private Catholic school after the breakdown of his family. His parents have separated, his mother is addicted to prescription painkillers, and his older brother is a womanizing drug addict with a penchant for stripping down while high. Jeremy's dad is also increasingly more absent, leaving for entire nights at a time with no real explanation. School is proving to be tougher than anticipated for Jeremy, and freshmen are routinely beat up and humiliated. Also, Jeremy's started having nosebleeds at the most inopportune times. The things going on in Jeremy's life made me want to scream at the book, "Where are all the grownups!?" Because there is really nobody reliable for Jeremy to turn to. Then, he finds a bizarre video in his dad's room, which might or might not be a snuff film. Things just got worse for poor Jeremy.
I did enjoy reading this book, although I didn't always understand why some things were happening. The plot is not nearly as tight as it could have been, but you can't help by feel for Jeremy and want to keep reading to find out what the heck is going on. The ending also felt a bit rushed, but it is quite a climax. I feel sorry for anyone who reads this and doesn't finish the book, because it's a doozy.
Want to feel better about your own life, think about your favorite zombie films, and have your mind blown at least a little? Read this one.(less)
Teen Laurel lost her mother and grandmother in Hurricane Katrina. Struggling to get back on their feet, she moves north with her father and baby broth...moreTeen Laurel lost her mother and grandmother in Hurricane Katrina. Struggling to get back on their feet, she moves north with her father and baby brother. There, things are going okay as she joins the cheerleading squad and meets the basketball star, T-Boom. However, T-Boom likes to party, aka do crystal meth, which he calls moon. Laurel gets hooked and winds up living in the streets, doing whatever she can for the next high.
For being a book about such a serious subject as meth addiction, I thought Beneath a Meth Moon was pretty darn weak. It seemed that Woodson was making an effort at writing an addiction book with flowing, poetic language, but that same writing style robbed the message of its punch. Meth addiction is ugly. Don't believe me? Look at these photos for proof. It's absolutely horrifying, and I'd hoped that this story would be as equally shocking as the photographic evidence. It wasn't.
One issue I had with the writing was the insistence on calling meth "moon." I'd never heard it called that before, and it gave it a dreamy, seductive quality, which maybe isn't what you want in a book that's trying to show you how bad drugs are. I guess this is how Woodson was trying to create atmosphere through names, just like the poorly named "T-Boom," Laurel's boyfriend. Every time I saw that name, I both wanted to laugh and cringe.
Woodson only scratched the surface on a lot of things in this book. Even though she's the first person narrator, I didn't feel like I got to really know Laurel, other than the fact that she's sad about losing her family and she loves meth. None of the characters are fleshed out enough. Also, the many aspects of meth are just touched upon. T-Boom makes meth--why didn't we get a feel for how dangerous that chemical process is, or how often meth labs blow up? I used to live in Southern California's High Desert, where there were regular meth lab explosions. Those areas can remain toxic for years. No mention of that in this book, though.
Sadly, I really didn't care for, or about, this book. If you want to read a teen book about drug addiction, stick with Ellen Hopkins.(less)