Friday, July 2, 2010

I Am Not A Serial Killer ~ Dan Wells review

(Sorry for the lack of posts--we had a power outage that messed with our modem so my internet's been a little sketchy--and there was a wedding to go to, too. Now, for the post:)

I Am Not A Serial Killer
Tor Books
272 pages
March 30, 2010
Buy@ Amazon

(I should include a warning right off that this will have a few spoilers--compared to usual anyhow.)

John Wayne Cleaver (named after the movie star) knows he's not normal. Interacting with people doesn't come naturally for him--in fact it doesn't come easily, naturally or, well, anything for him. He doesn't know how to be 'normal' and interact with those around him, how to do the things that almost all of the rest of us take for granted. He can't connect with people, can't understand them.

He can understand serial killers, though. He's fascinated by them (he avoids using the word obsessed). Whenever he has to do a school report on someone, he chooses a serial killer. He talks to his therapist about how he thinks he'll become a serial killer-but doesn't want to. John even has rules to avoid something like that happening.

Then his small, midwestern town is struck by a killer--and John just knows it's a serial killer before there's more than one murder. Through his own investigation he's going to find the identity of the killer.

I had really high hopes for this book. A fifteen-year-old main character who thinks he has the characteristics of a would be serial killer, but wants to avoid that happening, all the while working in his family's mortuary embalming bodies? There could have been a lot of done with looking at human nature and psychologically how things affect us. At least that's what I was hoping for--something more like Criminal Minds, or something but sort of the reverse side or something.

Instead, though, Wells brings in a supernatural element for the serial killer so while John is still battling things in himself the external element that he is battling, isn't human at all. There are a lot of supernatural books that still examine human nature and what it means to be evil, etc but I was really hoping for something that only dealt with people and conscience and that sort of evil without tangible monsters/demons.

For me, at least, that really took something away from the book--and how good it was--or could have been.

I do think, however, if you go into it knowing there's a supernatural element or not really, really wanting a book that explores human nature in the way that I did, you could really enjoy this book. I'm giving it a lower rating becuase I had such a problem with one of the major elemnts of the plot, but the characters were well done, the story developed well (minus the supernatural bit for me).


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