Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Am Not A Serial Killer Review

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells
Publisher: Tor Books
Hardback: 271
Reading Level: Young Adult
Book 1  I Am Not A Serial Killer (published Mar. 2010)
Book 2  Mr. Monster (published Sept. 2010)
Book 3  I Don’t Want to Kill You (to be published Mar. 2011) 

John Wayne Cleaver is the 15 year old narrator of the story. And he is NOT a serial killer---not yet! He has read all about serial killers. In fact, he is an expert, and he believes he’s fated to be one. After all, he has their lack of empathy and a complete inability to relate to others. He has carefully created some rigid rules to live by to prevent himself from becoming a killer. When the police find a body in John’s quiet little town, John is immediately intrigued because he recognizes there is something gruesomely different about this murder. As other bodies are found, he is the perfect person to connect the dots and find the killer. In putting the clues together, John realizes this killer is outside of his known reality. And to defeat him, John must abandon the rules that have kept him from his feared violent nature.

In my last book review, I lamented the lack of fiction that is exciting, memorable, and fresh. I asked this blog’s followers to recommend something, and Karin Anderson rescued me by recommending I Am Not A Serial Killer. She wrote this comment: “It has an interesting plot with good character development. It sounds weird, but I think you’ll like it.”

Thanks Karin, you are so right! I’m not usually into violence and horror, but I loved reading this book because the premise of this dark mystery is so fresh. John is a likable, sympathetic character if somewhat creepy in his obsession with his “fate.” I was inside his head while he dealt with his sociopathic tendencies...feeling his fear of becoming too obsessed with a girl he is attracted to, feeling his overwhelming need to cling to his rules or lose control over himself. I’m curious to see in the next two books if he ever works out this obsession.

Dan Wells creates the perfect setting for his book, contrasting the normalcy of the town and its people with the threat of this serial killer. The killer itself is not your typical cardboard villain. There’s some depth there with plenty of motivation for his killings. It’s a plot driven story, and I love reading a book with a plot I can’t second guess. I am soooo tempted to tell you some of the exciting, extremely dangerous things John does, especially in the second half of the book which becomes increasingly perilous for John all the way to the end. But, I am going to restrain myself because it would spoil the surprises Dan Wells has in store for you.

I would have given this book a 5 out of 5 rating except I thought the author hit me over the head with repeating the boy’s obsession with his probable fate. Also, there were some gory details about working in the family-run mortuary that were important to the plot but not something I cared to read about.

Cover: 5/5 (It’s a simple cover, but somehow perfect)
Overall Rating:4/5  

happy reading,