A great book always prompts me to think about new subjects; I know I really like a book when I can’t wait to research certain aspects of it. When I read I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (2012 Quick Picks for Young Adults, 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults), I was instantly drawn into Jazz’s world and couldn’t help but be fascinated by a boy who grew up with a serial killer for a dad and went on to team up with police to solve a copycat case. Not only did I want to know more about the forensic science touched on in the book, I was intrigued enough to want to know more about what makes someone capable of such violence. Here are some nonfiction titles that fans of I Hunt Killers can read to learn more about the topics the book explores.
- The Book of Blood: From Legends and Leeches to Vampires and Veins by HP Newquist is all about blood from every angle imaginable, covering both the biology and the superstitions surrounding it. With great graphics and easy-to-read formatting that is perfect for teen readers, this is a great introduction to all things blood-related.
- Forensic Identification: Putting a Name and Face on Death by Elizabeth Murray is a great introduction to forensic science and is perfect for teens considering a career in this field. This book covers many identification techniques, including DNA testing, facial reconstruction, dental records, blood analysis, fingerprinting, and x-rays.
- Death: Corpses, Cadavers, and other Grave Matters by Elizabeth Murray is a great complement to Forensic Identification. It discusses various causes of death and explains what happens to a body after death and also includes interviews with people who have escaped death, who work with the dead, or who have donated organs.
- Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (2004 Alex Award, 2004 Best Books for Young Adults, 2007 Popular Paperbacks) is a creepily funny look at what happens to bodies after death. Teens will be delighted by the different fates of cadavers, from crash test dummies to crucifixion experiments.
The above books are all part of the young adult nonfiction collection at my library, but those below are shelved in adult nonfiction. Given the subject matter, readers should approach these titles with more caution.
- My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf (2012 Alex Award, 2012 Great Graphic Novels, and 2012 Quick Picks for Young Adults) is a graphic novel written by a high school classmate of Jeffrey Dahmer and is an up close and personal picture of the troubled teen who would become on of the world’s most infamous serial killers.
- Criminal Minds: Sociopaths, Serial Killers, and Other Deviants by Jeff Mariotte is a tie-in to the popular television show “Criminal Minds.” Drawing from the material that inspires each episode, this book presents profiles of types of serial killers based on historical examples.
- The Serial Killer Whisperer by Pete Earley is the story of a boy who suffered a traumatic brain injury which altered his personality. Shunned by his friends, he started writing letters to serial killers on a whim and was eventually asked to assist in missing child investigations as a profiler, drawing on his personal knowledge of notorious serial killers.
- The Psychopath Test: A Journey through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson looks at the people who study psychopaths. Many of these individuals turn out to be serial killers, but the book also examines how many of these types of people can be found in positions of power.
Blood and death and pyschopaths and serial killers aren’t your thing? Don’t worry, I’ll be spotlighting other nonfiction read-alikes for popular young adult fiction titles that are slightly less morbid in forthcoming posts.
— Molly Wetta, currently reading The Archived by Victoria Schwab and Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace