Blood of My Blood - Barry Lyga

Jazz, Connie, and Howie are all in the hospital. No surprise after the thrills and gruesome, murderous action of Game (Book #2). Billy Dent is still on the loose, and Jazz is determined to track him down and kill him, once and for all. But Jazz, with Connie and Howie's help, still needs to figure out the mystery of the Crows. As he gets closer, Jazz starts to find out some seriously disturbing things about his childhood and his anxiety over the possibility of becoming like his father grows. Meanwhile, Connie and Billy come into very, very close contact, Howie manages to get into his fair share of trouble with the law, and Jazz realizes that his life will never be the same. This thrilling conclusion will leave you wishing you could turn away... but I promise you won't be able to.

I have been waiting in eager anticipation and fear for the conclusion of Lyga's I Hunt Killers series. Billy Dent was incredibly disturbing, engrossing, and my morbid curiosity often kept me awake much later than I was supposed to be. Some call the series Dexter for a younger crowd, while others have made comparisons to Silence of the Lambs. Any way you look at it, this series is brutal, gruesome, unsettling, and you won't be able to turn away (just like when you see a car crash and you can't help but slow down to see what's going on.) And even more disturbing is when you tell Twitter you're reading the series, only to have Billy Dent himself send you a note, late at night...

Okay, now that I've stopped shivering and wondering if I'll ever sleep again, I will continue.

In the words of Victoria Stapleton, "Barry Lyga is a sick, twisted man, with a very disturbing imagination." It's true. The books are not for the squeamish, and psychologically fragile individuals with want to avoid it. But it is fabulous and very much worth reading (though you may not want to read it alone, late at night.)

Lyga's novel is as thrilling as it is stunning, and although the subject matter is terrifying, the writing is beautiful. Throughout the series, Lyga develops many frightening characters, including Billy, but also some truly sympathetic characters, such as Connie and Howie, and even G. William, the sheriff of Lobo's Nod. The pace will keep you out of breath, your heart racing, as you follow Jazz's tormented journey toward his father. He breaks rules and some of his thoughts or truly grotesque, but I still found myself cheering for Jazz the whole time. His character is beautifully nuanced and tortured, and he often has to do and say things he wouldn't otherwise want to, in order to finally put an end to his torture:
[L]isten closely, Marta—if you turn me in, when I escape, I promise you one thing: I won't kill you. I'll leave you alive. You have my word on that. But everyone you love? Everyone you care for? Them, I'll kill. Horribly. Slowly....
He meant it. Until he'd spoken the words, he didn't realize how far he was willing to go to rescue his mother.
Beyond the basic storyline, Lyga deals with issues of class and race, and the role of family history in determining future development. Due to Jazz and Connie being in a relationship, there are moments where they, as well as other individuals, must confront prejudice and racism, especially since Jazz's own father has issues with non-white women. This particular moment is not only sadly relevant, but also insightful of the experiences of many black people on a daily basis:
[Connie's brother] bore the burden of being a black boy about the grow into a black teen. If the police even look at you funny, Dad had said, you hit the ground and you put your hands over your head. Don't talk back. Don't try to run. Don't try to explain. They're just looking for an excuse to shoot you.
So much of the series deals with grey areas of morality that you will likely find yourself questioning your own views on life and death and situations in which killing may or may not be the best answer. Just as Dexter made so many cheer for a serial killer, Blood of My Blood will make you cheer for a young man teetering on the edge of his own sanity as he runs toward a future that may or may not turn him into a killer.

Highly Recommended


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