It’s a common narrative: the highly successful father teaches his son the skills and techniques used to become the future scion of the family business. Now, as the novel opens, the young man is still in High School, has a hemophilic friend, a black girlfriend, and is concerned that he too will follow his father who is currently in prison for having killed 124 people … Dad was one of the most notorious serial killers in history: a Super-Serial Killer.
Barry Lyga writes what is known as Young Adult fiction. Steeped in the world of comic books, Lyga has transferred the elements of plotting and characterization from the graphic world to his short stories and novels. His prose is not complex but as evidenced by his novel I Hunt Killers, his themes are not for children.
The basic conflict in I Hunt Killers is the story of a young man, steeped in the life and skills of a serial killer who fears that he might become a serial killer himself, even as he uses his particular talents to help track-down and capture a new, copy-cat serial killer. I Hunt Killers is sort of a cross between The Silence of the Lambs and Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.
Lyga’s earlier novels might appear to be more youth oriented but they deal with some very edgy topics, suggesting that growing up is no Birthday cake:
- The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl
- Boy Toy
- Goth Girl Rising
- I Hunt Killers
Although you may be years out of High School, the depiction of anguish, violence, sexual predation, and new uses for Drano, make Lyga’s Young Adult novels equally well suited for Old Adult Readers.
As an aside: although Barry Lyga and Kathy Acker are very different authors, I think reading Acker’s Blood and Guts in High School might open up even more discussion centered around this young adult world.