CBR #102 – Not Every Story Needs Telling

The Jasper Dent Prequels: Lucky Day, Career Day, Neutral Mask and Blood Boy

These four stories take place before the events of I Hunt Killers.  I even tweeted to Barry Lyga when he thought I should read them.  It was a strange cheat to read these books after reading I Hunt Killers, because you go in with foreknowledge.  But in the same regard it makes some of the stories better.  Lyga explained that the last three stories were backstory he didn’t want to shoehorn in the other books.  So he kind of made them DVD extras you could download.  Lucky Day is the only one with real heft, it feels like a novella, and the other three are kind of little scenes and whatnot.  I usually avoid the extra materials when reading a series, but these seemed like a fun distraction.  And some work better than others.

Lucky Day is excellent in that it tells the story of G. William immediately before he captures Billy Dent.  His wife just died and he’s essentially being run out of office during his campaign by someone making fun of him for being old and not finding the killer who menaces their small town.  Billy Dent is prevalent, as a charming favorite.  Knowing what he becomes almost ruins everything, but Lyga expects you to know.  So a scene where the sheriff and Billy share drinks and have a conversation about the killer is loaded with awesomeness.  It’s fully fleshed out, and truly feels like a prequel.  It’s definitely worth a gander.

Career Day gives us insight into Jasper, but not much.  It feels like a scene that was cut, and with good reason.  We spend most of our time in Jasper’s mind during the novels, so it’s not like this is anything prophetic or deep.  It’s merely a throwaway story, and really not that great.  Same with Neutral Mask, which gives us more backstory on Connie.  But again, not really.  It feels like a cutscene that was unnecessary.  It’s about Jasper joining the acting class at her behest, and about an acting exercise.  Again, it probably felt really deep and meaningful to Lyga, but here it’s just junky.

Now, Blood Boy is interesting, and it deals with one of my least favorite characters, Howie.  Basically, Howie goes to a Halloween party two towns over to get out from under the shadow of Jasper and hopefully get laid.  Because here, no one knows him as this fragile kid, or as the town psycho’s best friend.  The story itself is throwaway, but has some depth and meaning to it.  Here, he gets bruised and beaten up, but all in a friendly way.  It’s worth it.

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