Game: Reviews

Booklist (February 1, 2013)
“Billy Dent, the serial killer introduced in I Hunt Killers (2012), is on the loose. But the timing of his escape means he can’t be behind the 14 murders attributed to New York City’s “Hat-Dog Killer,” so nicknamed because of the alternating symbols he carves into his victims’ flesh. Jazz Dent, 17, is called upon by the NYPD to offer insight only the son of a serial killer can provide, and he quickly assesses that Hat-Dog is playing some sort of game. But what are the rules? When finally revealed, the game seems slap-yourself- on-the-forehead obvious, yet orchestrated so cunningly that rare indeed will be the reader who figures it out early. Along the way, Lyga pulls off two neat tricks. First, he inverts the usual YA goal to lose one’s virginity, with Jazz terror that giving into desires will be the “ignition moment” that ignites a bloodlust. Second, Lyga continues to navigate that thinnest of tightropes: a hero we root for even as he manipulates people as ruthlessly as his pop. A parallel plot starring Jazz’s girlfriend does include some unlikely clue- solving and plenty of are-you-nuts?! behavior. Even so, you can’t deny Lyga’s ambition to craft the most serious (and bloodiest) crime series yet for teen readers.”

School Library Journal (March 1, 2013)
The Hat-Dog killer is on the loose in New York City, and Detective Hughes convinces 17-year-old Jazz Dent to fly in from Lobo’s Nod and help solve the case. In I Hunt Killers (Little, Brown, 2012), Jazz helped police capture the Impressionist, a copy-cat killer mimicking the infamous sociopath, Billy Dent–Jazz’s own father. In this episode, a series of murders in peaceful Brooklyn neighborhoods is occurring with gruesome similarities, including disemboweled victims who are also cut with images of either a dog or a hat. To compound the suspense, Billy has broken out of prison and may or may not be at the heart of this new reign of terror, testing his son’s ability to piece together a new “game.” Chilling random chapters from the killer’s point of view allow readers to know things that Jazz has yet to figure out. The teen’s internal dialogue often questions whether he really has “good guy” genes or has inherited his father’s dark side, just waiting to present itself. His nerdy best friend, Howie, and girlfriend, Connie, keep him grounded in the real world that includes caring for an unpredictable grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease. While Jazz is a well-developed, endearing character with a conscience, this dark psychological thriller will appeal to fans of television’s Dexter Morgan, but with its focus on killing, sociopathic behavior, and sexual violence, it’s best for mature high school readers.

Romantic Times (March 9, 2013)
Lyga’s I Hunt Killers sequel is riveting. You’ll be sucked in as you try to identify the mastermind behind the killings. Just when you think you know what will happen next, the plot turns. The characters stay strong and, by the end, you’ll be surprised to realize you have so much in common with a serial killer’s son.

Jazz Dent is back in the world he desperately wants to avoid — the world of serial killers. Not only is his psychopathic father on the loose, but a new serial killer appears in New York and Jazz is pulled into the case. He soon realizes that someone’s playing a game with him and it’s all he can do to stay sane while trying to solve the killings.

VOYA (June 1, 2013)
Jazz Dent, son of the most famous serial killer alive, is back in the business of hunting down killers. This time he travels to New York City with a detective to help catch the Hat-Dog Killer. This killer is more gruesome and violent than the Impressionist, who Jazz helped catch earlier in the year. Each murder is a piece of the puzzle in the pursuit of the Hat-Dog Killer, and Jazz once again uses the thinking passed down from his dear old dad, who has escaped from prison and is closer than Jazz knows.

Fans of I Hunt Killers will not be disappointed in this sequel. Lyga has brilliantly combined the elements of a true crime story with adventure and mystery to create a truly suspenseful novel. There are a few areas which readers must suspend belief, but the story is so fast paced, it is easy to do. Readers find themselves inside Jazz’s head and understand his character even more clearly than in the first novel, and with the added points of view from other characters, Jazz’s inner struggle about being like his dad is a fascinating addition to the story line. This title is highly recommended for libraries serving mature teens, and with all the twists and turns the story takes, readers will be in for a thrilling ride.

Horn Book (May 1, 2013)
In I Hunt Killers (rev. 5/12), Jasper Dent helped the police catch the Impressionist, a small-town copycat killer imitating the murders of notorious serial killer Billy Dent—Jazz’s “Dear Old Dad.” Now an NYPD homicide detective requests Jazz’s unique expertise for a new case. The Hat-Dog Killer’s MO is so bizarre that the detectives are struggling to piece together a profile, and the body count is already in double digits. Jazz travels to the big city to review the evidence; unbeknownst to him, girlfriend Connie follows—and soon the two are sucked into the Hat-Dog Killer’s “game.” Jazz suspects that newly on-the-lam Billy may be connected to the murders, but how? All the while, Jazz fights to unlearn the macabre life lessons imparted by his father. Plenty of gory suspense and plot twists will satisfy thriller fans, but, as before, Jazz’s determination to “be human” (aided by Connie and charmingly annoying sidekick Howie) is just as compelling as the murder mystery. With many secrets about the Dent family and Jazz’s own nature remaining to be revealed in the next book, readers won’t want to wait. (May 1, 2013)
Some readers will enjoy the novel for its CSI-like investigative twists and turns; others will enjoy continuing to try to understand Jazz’s wounded psyche. Both groups will respond positively to this second installment in Jazz’s story, which both deepens his character development and provides plenty of forensic fodder, while also offering surprising (and frankly, much-needed) doses of humor. — Read the complete review.

Publishers Weekly (February 25, 2013)
Lyga’s engrossing follow-up to I Hunt Killers (2012) again focuses on 17-year-old Jazz, the son of the world’s most prolific serial killer, but expands his world by fleshing out previously minor characters. Jazz is called upon to help the NYPD hunt Hat-Dog, a brutal killer who might be connected to Jazz’s now-escaped father, Billy Dent. Meanwhile, Jazz’s girlfriend, Connie, starts receiving mysterious information about Jazz’s past. Her quest drags in Jazz’s hemophiliac best friend Howie, whose horndog behavior belies his deep understanding of his friend, as well as his talent for sneakiness. The gore and violence flow freely (references to disemboweling and enucleating abound); the main differentiator between this and adult thrillers is the age of the protagonists. As such, it’s a riveting story for any reader capable of handling the violence, as Lyga juggles multiple points of view and elegant shocks and twists. Readers might be frustrated by the multicliffhanger finale, but the main mystery wraps up smartly, and the character arcs are as fascinating as the gruesome murders.

Unshelved (March 8, 2013)
Lyga takes what should be a throwaway Hollywood premise — a teenager and his friends help the NYPD catch a serial killer — and turns it into a believable and terrifying thriller. It’s the characters! I couldn’t help being drawn in by Jazz. It’s unclear whether or not he inherited his father’s deadly tendencies, but it’s clear he has Billy Dent’s magnetic personality. — Read the Complete Review
I honestly don’t want to even talk about the actual story because it is just so good and I don’t want to mention anything that could spoil or make you anticipate what to expect. That’s part of the fun–having NO clue what is going to happen next. — Read the Complete Review
If you have a strong stomach, a love for the dark and twisted, and a heart that can handle stroke-level blood pressure, then Game will not disappoint…. I cannot express to you my love (and simultaneous horror) toward this incredible series. Barry Lyga, you scare the actual hell out of me. I couldn’t be more pleased. — Read the Complete Review