Review: Game by Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers introduced the world to Jazz, the son of history’s most infamous serial killer, Billy Dent.

In an effort to prove murder didn’t run in the family, Jazz teamed with the police in the small town of Lobo’s Nod to solve a deadly case. And now, when a determined New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz’s door asking for help, he can’t say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple–and its police force–running scared. So Jazz and his girlfriend, Connie, hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer’s murderous game.

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This review is mostly spoiler-free of the first book, I Hunt Killers, but if you are super spoiler-sensitive, then I wouldn’t read this until you’ve read the first book. Which I highly recommend you do.

I always have this inhibition reading a sequel a year after the first, because, well, you know it’s been a year and I’ve read a lot of books in between and forget so many details. However, Game beautifully and easily reoriented me into Jazz Dent’s world. And as a whole, Game is probably one of the best Book #2 in a series ever. I feel like in so many sequels there’s that “sophomoric slump” where I whine to the characters, ‘no why are you doing that?’. No. None of that. Game is fan-freaking-tasticly perfect and I don’t just say this because I have an obsession with the morbid. I was utterly giddy to get back into the world of serial killers.

As you know from faithfully reading the summary above, this book is basically Jazz meets New York (and hates it – which amused me to no end). And Jazz is just so freaking bad ass! He was bad ass in I Hunt Killers and he’s even more bad ass in this. Going all cop and CSI on everyone. Magnificent. Then there’s Howie and Connie, the BFF and the girlfriend. Howie is back in all of his hilarious hemophiliac glory. I’m pretty sure I actually snort-laughed at every single thing Howie said in this book. No really. I don’t know how Mr. Lyga achieved it, but he did. And Connie. If I didn’t have girl crush on her before, I do now. So awesome. So stand up and strong. I kept envisioning this awesome Jazz and Connie crime-busting duo.

If you’ve read I Hunt Killers and that hit your ‘squeamish limit’, then toughen up for Game because it takes it to the next level in the severity of crime. Seriously, gird your loins now. Even I, the hardened crime reader, gagged at some of the details. But this book also takes it to the next level in sheer genius. There is just so much stuff going on that it kind of baffled my brain how Mr. Lyga came up with it all. At some later points in the book I actually exclaimed out loud (in an awed tone) “this is completely brilliant” and “I would have never figured this out. Ever. Like, ever ever”. This book is full of brains and guts. (Sometimes I laugh at my own really bad puns)

I feel like I’d be doing a disservice to Reader Land if I didn’t warn you about ‘it’. There’s a cliffhanger. Quite possibly one of the worst cliffhangers I’ve ever read and people, I’ve survived Mark of Athena. So this is a serious claim. I turned the page and upon reading the first few words of the Acknowledgements and realizing it wasn’t more story, I can only imagine the murderous Grumpy-Cat-esque look on my face. Then I promptly went to Twitter and accused Mr. Lyga of really being Billy Dent because the level of cruelty in that ending is something this world hasn’t seen much of. Still, it was totally worth the agonizing pain of that ending. Well played, Lyga, well played…

Similar recommendations: The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith and Rotters by Daniel Kraus.

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Jennifer Dee

Jennifer spends most of her time with books. Whether it's reading, writing, selling, fangirling or crafting for them. When her duties YA/ MG editor of Novel Thoughts are momentarily fulfilled, she works as a Children's bookseller and is the Middle Grade editor for Riffle. She also enjoys coffee, bagels, knitting and Percy Jackson.
  • http://twitter.com/randinicole13 Randi M

    I am both excited and super nervous to read Game now after the part about massive cliffhanger. In fact, I recently read Son of Neptune and, despite husband’s insistence, refused to read The Mark of Athena until House of Hades’ release date is closer because I’ve HEARD about that cliffhanger. So knowing that this one is even worse makes me wonder if I’ll just be torturing myself….The sacrifices we make for books. :) Great review!

  • Sara of the Page Sage

    I can’t wait for Game! I Hunt Killers was awesome. I’m actually a fan of cliffhangers, so I’m especially excited now. :)

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