Tuesday, 10 March 2009

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

From Amazon: John works in his family’s mortuary and has an obsession with serial killers. He wants to be a good person, but fears he is a sociopath, and for years he has suppressed his dark side through a strict system of rules designed to mimic “normal” behavior. Then a demon begins stalking his small town and killing people one by one, and John is forced to give in to his darker nature in order to save them. As he struggles to understand the demon and find a way to kill it, his own mind begins to unravel until he fears he may never regain control. Faced with the reality that he is, perhaps, more monstrous than the monster he is fighting, John must make a final stand against the horrors of both the demon and himself.

I'm not going to lie and say that everyone will like this book, because they won't. It's complex, gruesome and frightening, yet brilliant and bold.

John Wayne Cleaver (great name!) is a fifteen year old sociopath, who helps out in his family's mortuary and is obsessed with serial killers. He has very little emotion or empathy, and frequently has to stop himself from losing control of his inner demon.

John's voice is my favourite part of the whole book; I love it. It's dark and satirical, but spotted with humour and sarcasm. His blunt thoughts and desires are written with such simplicity that you can't help but like this character, even though I'm not entirely sure you should. I sympathised with John, who is a boy fighting with himself to refrain from killing people. Did I expect to sympathise with him? No, I didn't. His loneliness and alienation from his peers and family will be something that a lot of people will relate to, and it's an aspect of his character that humanises him, whether he thinks it does or not.

To write about this subject in a YA novel is quite brave, as it won't appeal to a lot of readers. Some things are just too real for people to read about, and serial killing undoubtedly falls into that category. I Am Not A Serial Killer is quite gory at times, and describes in great detail what happens behind the closed doors of a mortuary. I now know more about embalming than I ever thought I would!

The plot is clever, with quite a few unexpected twists and turns. It almost reads like a crime novel, especially with the inclusion of John's personal hunt for the Clayton Killer terrorising his town. The conclusion is satisfying and intriguing, and sets up the sequel nicely. I can't wait to find out if John can save himself from himself, along with the lengths he'll go to to achieve this. The next book will certainly be an interesting read!

Oh, and if you're a fan of the show Dexter, you should definitely read this book. I think you'd love it!

19 comments:

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

You got another award!

http://solittletimeforbooks.blogspot.com/2009/03/i-love-your-blog-award.html

Chicklish said...

Brilliant review! It sounds really interesting and different.

robin_titan said...

Oh shiz! This is my kind of book, and yeah I'm a fan of Dexter :D

Have you read Battle Royale? If you haven't DO IT NOW!! It's awesome and since this one's gruesome and all you'll love it too, lots of Japanese names to remember though hehe but I didn't mind. :)

Steph Su said...

Woot! This sounds intriguing. Don't have enough books with sociopathic protagonists, do we? :P

Fellfrosch said...

Awesome, I'm glad you liked it. And yes, the lengths he goes to to save himself from himself are...a subject of great interest

Amy said...

cool review! i've always been facinated by serial killers-i know that sounds creepy, but it's really just human nature:)
-amy

Cheryl & Amber said...

I haven't read or heard about this book, but I think you're right. This probably won't appeal to some people...but it does appeal to me! I'm adding it to my TBR pile. Awesome review!

--Amber

Bookgeek said...

Great review. I hadn't heard of this book at all. But like books on the dark and creepy side. And am a great fan of Dexter. Adding it to my list!

The B Word said...

Great review! Thanks so much.
For anyone who is interested in finding out a bit more about Dan's influences he's blogging over at the B Word for a few weeks: http://bwordblog.blogspot.com/

Marie Hansen said...

I pretty much NEED to read this book! Sounds so amazing!

Thao said...

I don't really like the subject of killing but it sounds kinda good. And the nail marks in the cover are very cool!

BretO! said...

We ordered this book from England (available at amazon.co.uk for pretty cheap) and my wife and I had to fight over who got the reading time. She won--I'm half-way through, and it is brilliant! The gore/serial killer element is very intriguing...if you are into that (which my wife isn't, but loved the story). The humor is entertaining. It has a "Catcher in the Rye" feel, but with a lot more plot. Definitely recommended!

Sylly said...

Just finished reading this book and I completely agree with every word you said in the review! So yeah, great review!

Anonymous said...

This book was so good - I borrowed it from a friend but I would actually go out and buy it, to read it again. Its awesomeful!

Anonymous said...

izi says...
it is a really good book that i will read many times

Anonymous said...

this book is incredible, the only problem now is waiting for the sequel as this is part 1 of three books, definitely recommend reading this book!

Anonymous said...

i love his books

Ivana said...

I bought the Croatian translation of the book a couple of months ago, and saw that your review was quoted, so I had to check out your review :)

vina said...

Very interesting.The Croatian translation was lovely.I would say Croatian translation is getting more and more important, almost by the minute. But so is translation into other languages of Eastern Europe. As production shifts eastward, so does a certain increase in wealth and thus market possibilities.