Category Archives: Serial Killers

Books that portray serial killers.

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Paper Valentine

Bibliographic information: Paper Valentine. Brenna Yovanoff. Razor Bill, 2013. $17.99. 304p. ISBN-13:  9781595145994.
Summary: Hannah’s best friend, Lillian, died a few months ago, but that doesn’t deter her from hanging around, in the form of a ghost. Little girls start showing up dead in the park, which is the center of her small town, and now with the urging of Lillian, Hannah puts herself to the task of catching the killer. With the help from the ghosts of the murdered girls and through the crime scene photos she was able to sneak a look at, Hannah has found a lead.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 7 and up
Review: This haunting tale weaves a story filled with friendly ghosts out to catch their murderers. It’s sad when your best friend is a ghost, but Hannah doesn’t seem to mind. Nobody may be able to see her but she is always there to lend advice, even when a string of murders attracts Hannah’s attention. Through her ghostly friend, Hannah develops into a strong-willed character who takes charge when she normally would have followed. Everybody hates losing a friend and Hannah’s character shows what happens when you try to hold on to somebody who isn’t there anymore. But she is able to cope with her loss and move on with her life while still respecting her friend in a much healthier way. Teens will be able to relate to Hannah’s situation and they won’t want to put this book down. Mystery, horror, fantasy, and humor. This book has it all.
Readers’ annotation: With the help of her best friend, who just happens to be a ghost, Hannah is able to pursue the serial killer who is haunting her town.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The ghosts in this book are helpful and friendly. They will give readers the sense that they do not need to fear such beings because they will not harm you. It is a great coping mechanism for someone who is frightened by ghosts. Also, it does a great job of show how a teen has had to cope with the loss of her best friend and will give teens in similar situations some perspective on the matter.
Issues present: This book has both ghosts and serial killers/murders both of which are objectionable topics in a teen book. However, children can use this book to help them fight their fears and understand that there is no reason to fear ghosts. Also, serial killers are not very common but they are real and children should understand this.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Hannah’s character and her friend Lillian.
P. 14 from “It used to shock me…” to “…I was the only one who ever seemed to miss her.” – introduces parts of plot.
P. 126 second full paragraph to end of page. – describes crime scene, adds to plot.
Genre or subject: Fantasy: ghosts and serial killers, death
Readalikes:  Name of the Star, I Hunt Killers, Game, Hollow series
Author’s website:  http://brennayovanoff.com/
Awards: Recommended Reads List for Young Adults (2013)
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Paper-Valentine-Brenna-Yovanoff/pid=5834338; School Library Journal: http://blogs.slj.com/teacozy/2013/01/08/review-paper-valentine/, http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=20274153.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-59514-599-4
Why I chose it: Brenna Yovanoff is a favorite author of mine and I thought this one would be a great addition to my collection because it discussed serial killers and ghosts.

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Filed under Anger/Violence, Death, Serial Killers, Supernatual monsters

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)

Bibliographic information: The Name of the Star. Maureen Johnson. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011. $16.99. 372p. ISBN-13:  9780399256608.
Summary: Aurora “Rory” is from a small swamp town just outside of New Orleans and she has just moved to London for her parents work. She will be starting at the Wexford boarding school in just a few days. However, upon arrival in London there appears to be a Jack the Ripper copycat and her school just so happens to be in the neighborhood. All Rory wanted to do was be a normal girl and get through high school, but she is soon swept up in the Ripper murders and becomes an unlikely target in an unexplainable string up murders.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 8 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: This thrilling tale of ghosts and murder will captivate young readers from page one. Rory is a strong female protagonist who is down to earth and easy to get along with. Readers will find themselves becoming her friend. She is depicted as an American Southern who moves to London and cannot seem to stay out of trouble or keep her mouth shut. Talking is a sport for Rory. The friends she meet are as realistic as Rory even among all the fantasy happening around them and they will speak to teens on a personal level. Johnson writes with skill and the words flow off one another pooling together to create a wonderful story. An addictive book that will be enjoyed by young adults.
Readers’ annotation: Rory just moved to London in Jack the Ripper territory. 100 years later, the murders are occurring again.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The ghosts in this book will be great at helping children understand that there is no reason to fear ghosts. The book depicts them as mostly harmless, lost souls. This will lend help to children who fear ghosts.
Issues present: This book has both serial killers/murderers and ghosts. People might think that this book is too scary for their children and object to the title. Also, people tend to feel highly against supernatural monsters in children books. However, children use books to help fight their fears of ghosts as well as understand that bad people are out there, but there are also a lot of people there to protect you.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Aurora “Rory’s” character.
Pg. 43 starting with, “I took a big, deep breath to prepare for my angel voice…” until the paragraph ends on the next page – Describes her near-death experience.
Genre or subject: Fantasy: ghosts, serial killer, Jack the Ripper
Readalikes: Hallow, Paper Valentine, The Christopher Killer, Anya’s Ghost
Author’s website: http://www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com/index1.html
Awards: Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult (2012)
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/The-Name-of-the-Star-Maureen-Johnson/pid=4922969; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-05-62791-1120889.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4418-6636-3; Kirkus Review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/maureen-johnson/name-star/
Why I chose it: This book was recommended to me by a friend who knows how much I like books about ghosts and serial killers.

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The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson

The Christopher Killer (Forensic Mysteries, #1)

Bibliographic information: The Christopher Killer: A Forensic Mystery. Alane Ferguson. Viking, 2006. $15.99. 274p. ISBN-13:  9780670060085.
Summary: Cameryn dreams of becoming a forensic scientist. Her father is the local coroner for small town she lives in, so after some persuasion he decides to make Cameryn his assistant so that she can have some hands on experience in the field. Her first case goes as well as anyone would expect, however soon enough she is put on case where he friend has been murdered, and they suspect it was the Christopher Killer, the known serial killer going around. Cameryn is determined to find the killer before he strikes again.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 7 and up
Review: This book is written with gruesome details that make it hard to put down because you can’t wait for the next gory detail to come. Ferguson leads the reader on a chase for a killer that is most unexpected. Cameryn is a bold and realistic heroine who will encourage other teens to follow their dreams to become whatever they want. Each character is uniquely crafted to add intrigue, depth and appeal to the story. This is a great first installment to the Forensic Mysteries and recommended to all murder mystery fans.
Readers’ annotation: There is a killer on the loose and Cameryn’s friend has just been murdered. She has taken it upon herself to track down the elusive Christopher Killer who took her friend’s life.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book has death, gore, and a serial killer. All of these things would be helpful to a teen to face their fears. These are very real things that happen in the world and having books that mention them and discuss them in detail is helpful to young readers state of mind. They will be able to read the book and gain some insight into the topics and understand that their fears are very real, but manageable.
Issues present: This book has very detailed descriptions of dead and decaying bodies, and it also has a serial killer. People might object to the violent and gruesome nature of the book and they may believe that a book with a serial killer would be to scary for young readers. However, sometimes it is a good thing to have a book that will help teens fight there fears of very real issues.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Cameryn’s character.
P. 3 – last paragraph, ends on p. 4. Describes main character.
P. 36 – last paragraph, ends on p. 37. Gruesome details to make you morbidly curious.
Genre or subject: Mystery, serial killer, forensics
Readalikes: Other novels by Ferguson, I Hunt Killers, Paper Valentine
Author’s website: http://www.alaneferguson.com/
Awards: South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult Book Award (2009), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2010)
Reviews:  School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-3270743.xml; Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/The-Christopher-Killer-A-Forensic-Mystery-Alane-Ferguson/pid=1695407
Why I chose it: I was searching for books on serial killers and came across this title. I thought the forensic side of the murders would be interesting to read about.

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I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)

Bibliographic information: I Hunt Killers. Barry Lyga. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012. $8.99. 384p. ISBN-13:  978-0316125833.
Summary: Jasper “Jazz” Dent is the son of the worlds most notorious serial killer, Billy Dent. Billy taught Jazz everything he would need to know about the serial killing business. After several decades of getting away with murder and 123/124 bodies later, Billy was finally caught when Jazz was 13 years old. Four years later and bodies are piling up again and Jazz is trying his best to find the killer and stay off the suspect list.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 15 and up IL: grade 9 and up
Review: A book about a real life monster that should not be ignored. Barry Lyga continues to astound me with his writing skills. His insight and details into his characters are incredible. After reading I Hunt Killers I was left feeling like I just got a look into the brain of a full on sociopath. The amount of research that would have to be done to carry out this book is right up there with Todd Strasser’s Give a Boy a Gun. I am simply amazed with the quality of this title and the feelings in invoked in me. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for what was going to happen next. Readers will liken to Jazz’s character and be intrigued by his thought processes. Pain, anger, disgust, and morbid curiosity are just a few of the emotion this book brought out in me. By the end of this book I was eagerly awaiting the sequel, which is soon to come. Highly recommended.
Readers’ annotation: Jazz is the son of the worlds more lethal serial killer and his dad taught him everything he needs to know to be a successful murderer.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book expresses the difficulties that come with a parent who is a bad person, has done jail time, or has possibly forced their children to take part in activities that were unwanted. Children who have been scarred by their parents actions will be able to relate to Jasper’s character and understand that there are other children out there who have suffered the same fate.
Issues present: Parents will be shocked at the gruesome details that Lyga presents in I Hunt Killers. They will not like the gory descriptions and the presence of some of the worst described serial killers around. However, serial killers are real and they are out there. Giving your children a way to learn about them that is fictional, yet highly accurate will safely teach them of the dangers and monsters that exist in our world. You cannot hide children from such dangers, though they may be rare, they are real.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Jasper’s character and his father.
Genre or subject: Serial killers, murder, investigation
Readalikes: The Christopher Killer, Counterfeit Son, Acceleration, The Monstrumologist,
Author’s website: http://barrylyga.com/
Awards: Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel (2012), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2014)
Reviews:  Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/I-Hunt-Killers-Barry-Lyga/pid=5226999; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-316-12584-0; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-05-21492-24142225.xml; Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/barry-lyga/i-hunt-killers/
Why I chose it: I picked this book up from the “early release” book shelf last year at my library, these books are put out in the staff room to help collection development get some comments from other librarians as to what they should buy when released. I recognized the author’s name and thought the title was intriguing so I took it home. I haven’t had the chance to actually read it until now, but I sure am glad that I did.

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Filed under Anger/Violence, Bullying, Death, Serial Killers, Toxic parents and teachers