Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Double Decker Book Review and ARC Giveaway!

Leave a comment at the end of these reviews and you're entered to win the ARC of I Hunt Killers!

Welcome back to another installment of “Book Reviews of Books That Have Guys in Them, Might Appeal to Guys, Have Something Tangentially to do with Guys or Were Mistakenly Downloaded During a Drunken Night of Amazon Browsing Which is How I Ended up With Three Thousand Hootie and the Blowfish Commemorative Bobbleheads.”

This regular feature identifies books you might find helpful if you're:
  • Writing a book with male characters but don't have a penis to call your own
  • Looking for books that might appeal to reluctant readers of the male persuasion
  • Building a book fortress and need additional titles to finish the keep

If any of those sound like your ball of twine, grab some homemade apple toast and pull up a chair. Otherwise, get the hell out! Go on! We're not running a charity here! Freeloader.

Today I present not one but two reviews rolled into one. It's like the Enchirito of book reviews. Without the dysentery. No need to thank me, just try to get my name right in your Pulitzer acceptance speech.

The two books are Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk and I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. Two very different books (which, duh, you can tell because they have completely different words in their titles) but with surprising commonalities.

First, a little background:

Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator 
by Josh Berk

Description from Oblong Books:

Guy Langman can't be bothered with much. But when his friend Anoop wants Guy to join the forensics club with him in the (possibly misguided) hopes of impressing some girls, Guy thinks why not.

They certainly aren't expecting to find a real dead body on the simulated crime scene they're assigned to collect evidence from. But after some girlish, undignified screaming, the two realize it is indeed a body. Which means they have stumbled across a real, dead murder victim.

Meanwhile, Guy has been looking into the past of his father—a larger-than-life character who recently passed away. He was much older than Guy's mom, and had a whole past Guy never even knew about. Could his father's past and the dead body be linked? Does Guy want to know? He's going to need all his newfound forensics skills to find out . . .

I Hunt Killers 
by Barry Lyga

Description from Oblong Books:

What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?

Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could--from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret--could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

Let me start by listing how these books are similar:
  • Both revolve around murder mysteries
  • Both protagonists have daddy issues (which I'm pretty sure is contractually obligated in YA with male leads)
  • Both touch on the fascinating science of forensics
  • Both are generally book-shaped

Now I will explain how these books are different:
  • Langman is laugh-out-loud, fling snot onto the kitchen table funny (actually happened)
  • Killers is as dark as Newt Gingrich's soul's butthole
  • Langman has the funniest “Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round” joke ever written
  • Killers doesn't mention the wheels of the bus AT ALL

Guy Langman has suffered the death of his father only to discover his father may not have been the man he knew. As Guy uses his newfound forensic skills to peel back a family mystery, we see the world through his sarcastic but witty eye. His observations on life, friendship and his dead father are at once poignant and hysterical. Seriously, this is not the book you want to read while drinking Everclear near an open flame.

Three things that made me laugh about Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator:
  1. Guy's dad is like a crankier version of Shit my Dad Says 
  2. TK, one of Guy's forensics club mates, is a Pastafarian
  3. The final line in the book is the funniest reference to cock rings I've ever read (and I'm astonishingly well-read on the subject)

Killers, on the other hand, comes at you like a teenage Silence of the Lambs (or YA Dexter if you prefer). Dark and moody, the book follows Jasper Dent as he desperately tries to solve the case of the copycat serial killer (who's paying homage to Jazz's own father's notorious crime spree). Is he helping the police because he genuinely cares about the victims? Or is there a darker force drawing him to the macabre crime scenes? Wouldn't you like to know.

Three things that creeped my shit about I Hunt Killers:
  1. Jazz may or may not have participated in the torture death of his own mother 
  2. Jazz's inner monologue reminds me of Norman Bates trying to talk himself out of doing bad things 
  3. The advance reader copy came in a crime scene baggie with a picture of a missing woman

Both books are great reads with decidedly different angles. But I was struck by some interesting commonalities (one of the reasons I decided to combine both reviews into one – that and they pack easier for travel that way).

Three unexpected areas of overlap betwixt the two books:
  1. While Langman is the funnier of the two, there's a surprising amount of humor in Killers that helps lighten some of the darker passages 
  2. Both books reference Locard's Exchange Principle which posits that, “Every contact leaves a trace” and is at the root of much modern forensic science
  3. Jazz's middle name, Francis, is Guy Langman's father's name (cue eerie theremin music)

Look, if you struggle to find books your teen boys will read (and you think your teen boys are mature enough for Killers' subject matter) both of these books are great finds. If you want to plumb some of the funnier and/or darker stretches of the male mental highway, both of these books cover a lot of ground.

The rest of you don't need my recommendation, both books are probably already on your TBR piles. For you, I have on parting gift: a completely unrelated list of things I would buy if I won the Mega-Lotto:
  1. Luxury motorhome with reading room, mobile gym and roof-mounted laser turret
  2. Airborne floating yacht/world domination staging platform
  3. A topiary park depicting key scenes from Bring it On

So. In summary:
  1. Langman and Killers - Get them! Before they get you!
  2. Lists:writing::spanx:waistline

Add your own list in the comments and you're entered to win an ARC of I Hunt Killers, complete with aforementioned creeptastic crime scene baggie! The list can be anything: your favorite rides at Disneyland, steps for making a decent pumpkin spice cheesecake or, say, the hidden locations of your family's underground doomsday prepper vaults stuffed with post-apocalyptically negotiable gold bars. Whatevs, you decide!


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