young adult

The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop

18518711208 pages
Published August 1, 2014 by Switch Press
Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: This quirky, narrative scrapbook gives readers a witty, honest look at what it means to be a teenager.Using mini-graphic novels, photos, sketches, and captions, The Isobel Journal offers a unique glimpse into the creative life of eighteen-year-old Isobel, just a northern girl from where nothing really happens.”

Review: I don’t have a lot to say about this book. I read another review that described it as “random” and I would have to agree. Yes, Isobel’s scrapbook is divided into three sections, but it is full of random drawings, photos and musings about her life. It was a quick read and was fine, but there wasn’t much of a plot, though I was able to piece together what Isobel’s life must be like based on the things she drew and wrote. The drawings were unique and quirky, definitely not what I would call beautiful drawings, but I still liked them.

I also liked Isobel’s musings about her identity and boys. I felt this is the part of the book that teenagers reading this book would most identify with and they were the most poignant, because I know I’ve had all those feelings at one point or another. The voice and drawings definitely seem to come from a teenage girl. I just quickly looked up the author and she is definitely a teenage girl! That explains the authenticity and while it wasn’t really a book for me, I do appreciate her honesty and I think a lot of teens will relate to her journal.

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I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

7766027359 pages
Published April 3, 2012
Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: 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?

Review: I’ve had this book on my to-read list for a while now, but have never gotten around to reading it. Until I got an email from Netgalley that they had a copy available, even though the book came out over two years ago.

I actually could not put this book down and read it in one day. I was so intrigued by the mystery and the characters and needed some sort of resolution, so I stayed up late to finish it. I have always been into true crime and the working of the criminal mind, so I liked reading the perspective of Jazz, who has a serial killer for a father. This creates a conflict for Jazz, with him thinking he could be a serial killer just like his father, as his father bred him to be a serial killer. But Jazz also fights against this legacy and tries to be a normal teenage boy, while wrestling with his horrible memories and his own personal demons. His personal demons play out well in regards to the other characters, especially in Jazz’s relationships with them. He sometimes imagines killing or hurting people he cares about, but then at the same time, he wants to take care of them and protect them. The argument of nature versus nurture in regards to serial killers is a fascinating one and I think Jazz is a good embodiment of this argument. How can someone be a normal person when they were raised by a sadistic serial killer? I think the book did a good job of raising these questions, especially for readers that are into true crime.

The book was a little more violent than I was expecting, but I guess if you look at the subject matter, it’s not that surprising, but it caught me off guard, as I’m not used to many young adult books being so gritty and full of blood. It was not a bad thing, of course! The murders and the crime scenes described in the book are exactly what fuels the fascination with true crime and serial killers. Some of the scenes were so ghoulish, but I couldn’t look away or stop reading. Also, Jazz’s father and the relationship that Jazz has with him was so disturbing, that my skin was crawling a bit when Jazz went to visit his father in prison.

The mystery kept me on the edge of my seat and while I read another review where the reader figured it out pretty quickly, I kept changing my mind about who the culprit could be. And while the book didn’t quite end on a cliffhanger, I was both a little shocked and somehow expecting how it would end. Definitely want to get my hands on the next two books!