Talk-o-Babble, Episode 3:
Game by Barry Lyga
Here we are already on the third Tuesday of the Talk-o-Babble blog. In episode 1, we left off with the first book in the popular series: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. Yesterday, I just finished reading the second book in the series: Game. It caught my attention in the same way the first book did, but it definitely hit a little differently.
So let’s talk about it!
To give a quick summary:
Our story continues with the notorious serial killer’s son, Jasper “Jazz” Dent. He’s still struggling to show that he’s not a serial killer by nature or nurture, and now he has a real chance to prove it. In New York City, there have been a series of gruesome murders, and they’re only getting worse. It’s Jazz’s chance to show that he’s not his father’s son by assisting with the investigation and bringing the murderer to justice.
Here are my thoughts…
I truly enjoyed the plot of this story, not because it was necessarily unpredictable but because of how the clues and the reveal unfolded. Starting when the police brought in their suspects and questioned them one by one, the clues really started to reveal themselves. If I was quicker, I would’ve noticed right away, but it took me until I finished the end of the book to think back and notice them. From there, I enjoyed the way Jazz thought through and described how the (decidedly) two killers were playing a game of monopoly. It was disturbing to think about, yes, but I thought it was an inspired concept. Something about Billy always mentioning numbers over the phone had me guessing coordinates (for some reason), and so the reveal of monopoly hit me harder than it probably should have. And it was awesome.
Jazz is a very interesting character and delving deep into his fear of sex (and what it might “make him into”) in this story was intriguing. It spoke volumes about his trauma and humanized him even more, which caused me to feel more emotionally attached to him.
And adding the viewpoint of Connie helped with that a lot, too. I found her personality and her change from goody-two-shoes to delinquent quite compelling. She may not see it now, but Jazz definitely isn’t the best influence on her. Not to say that he’s a bad influence, but she seems to mirror his manipulative traits a little too heavily and enjoys the taste of power. And for all the goody-two-shoes out there (me included), I was appalled by the way she spoke to her parents. In some ways, I felt like it made her more interesting, and in some ways, I just kept asking why she was letting herself be taken in so completely (by Billy).
My struggle with this book came with Howie. Perhaps I’m just a little too traditional or old-fashioned but I had a hard time reading about Howie and his desires. Something about him not just wanting Jazz’s aunt but acting on it (and doing so more when Jazz said not to), and no one explicitly shutting him down was hard for me to read. That, and the way he talked about Connie was uncomfortable, too. It almost ruined how fond of Howie I’ve become.
There’s just one more thing I want to touch on, and that’s the ending. I’ve read a lot of books, and I’ve been through a lot of series, but this book…Man, what a cliffhanger. It drives us right up to the climax and then leaves us dry. And if I’m being honest with myself, I kind of liked it, even though it hurt my feelings a little. Being left without explanation was a perfect parallel to how Jazz was left in the storage unit. We had all the information, we were ready to face these guys, and then—We’re just cut short; we’re shot in the leg and left to die. And that’s for Connie’s situation as well. Realizing that the voice on the other side of the line was Billy after all was a major shot in the heart. Lyga did a good job of confusing me because I genuinely thought it could be someone else.
And now I have to wait until the next book to know. So let’s commiserate about how this book left us in the lurch but revel in how well it did that. I’m a big fan of books that can make me feel just like the character does by playing tricks on me. The same way they do in movies with camera angles and shot choices, etc.