Mike (the Paladin)'s Reviews > Mr. Monster

Mr. Monster by Dan Wells
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Jun 23, 11

bookshelves: horror, urban-fantasy

This book is a bit hard to rate...and review.

***Please note***:
I AM ASSUMING YOU HAVE READ I Am Not A Serial Killer which is the first volume of this "story". THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR THAT BOOK HERE.

I find many things about this/these book(s) interesting and well done. I also find a lot about (especially this one) objectionable. The books attempt to walk the lines between slasher/horror/urban fantasy. The first book follows John as he struggles with his own "verging" sociopathy. He has always been fascinated by death (of course since he has grown up working on corpses in a mortuary...). Then a serial killer goes to work in his town. John (quick description of first book) sets out to track down the killer in an attempt to find a way to feed his sociopathy, without killing his mother or someone else...and he does it.

At that point the book takes a hard turn into a different kind of horror (serial killer stories can be their own kind of horror). John discovers that the killer isn't human. His neighbor is what John dubs a demon...John has killed a demon, which melts into a disgusting goo.

This book picks up with John and his mother (who knows some of John's struggle and is the only other person to have seen the "demon") trying to live their lives. Things are hard for John, he may be slipping more. It doesn't help that mom is trying her best to deny what happened. John holds himself together by living according to a strict set of rules...never hurt and animal, never hurt a person, avoid confrontation, etc.

The book has a lot of positives. While the general plot idea isn't new the idea of using a budding sociopath/psychopath who is constantly struggling not to lose control as a protagonist is pretty new. The story is good I found it absorbing. I will at least consider following up (later) with the next book.

Unfortunately the book also has a LOT (in my opinion) of negatives. It takes off very slowly. This is a short book and at that it's a bit too long. Too much pointless detail (as opposed to relevant detail), too long setting up the story, we get a lot of "what's gone before". More than we really needed I think.

We also get a lot of pointless "gross out". There is one long passage describing an embalming that has nothing to do with the story. I assume it's supposed to be helping us see MORE of John's struggle. But it really doesn't. It simply gives an excuse to tell us how morticians go about keeping the eye sockets from sinking in...how they embalm the body cavity...how to use a trocar...what to do with all the bagged organs...on and on and on. Okay maybe that gave us some info...but we get another embalming later of a victim that tells us a lot of the same things. I skipped and skimmed a lot of this one.

I won't mention anything that will tip the plot or be a spoiler, but I found a lot negatives about this book and almost rated it much lower. Some of the things that bothered me may not bother others (though that kind of worries me. I feel almost the same way about the Dexter books. I only read the first of those...I can't get into long loving descriptions of graphic murders etc.)...

So, pretty good story...3 stars, barely.

********************* SPOILER BELOW LINE ****************

Throughout the book we get descriptions of John's dreams of killing the girl he likes...slowly and graphically. This book rests a lot on what I called above "the Gross out factor". I don't care for it, it puts me off and I considered not completing the book.

The plot revolves around ancient beings who are still around. For some reason most of these old beings who were thought of as deities or demons seem also to be fairly cold blooded and homicidal. So the "demon killer" motif is fairly interesting. For me a lot will depend on how much gore I'm willing to put up with.

As I said, I skipped and skimmed a lot of this book.
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by cook777 (last edited Jul 03, 2011 11:37PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

cook777 As for your spoiler (Not sure I could see it as a spoiler see it comes up vary fast in the book.) That actually put me off as well and was asking myself why I was reading it, when it first showed up. And I don't have a gore issue at all. It the only time a book ever had the issue of doing that to me. I guess it comes from being inside such a messed up head were he not the villein and the natural tendency it to try to connect with the main character that tends to be the "Good guy". (As I think is why you tried to like John in the first book.) I glad I don't need to like the main character to like a book.

(Sorry for all grammar and spelling mistakes)

Mike (the Paladin) He is a disturbing character. I've read boos where the "protagonist" was criminal or an "antihero" but John is a sociopath possibly s psychopath. Intellectually he knows how to act (roughly) but there's always the possibility he himself may become "Mr. Monster" or as he looks at it, Mr. Monster" may end up "in charge" or out of control.

cook777 Well the third book he seems much better in the head. No were near the gross out factor in my option. Not as much struggle with himself.

Mike (the Paladin) I'll probably get to it when my local library has it.

cook777 Ok though I not selling you a book. I put that since it seemed to be some fear of yours. You already read the one I like. > :)

Caelan I'm sorry, but I disagree with this review. For example, I think the secion about embalming was actually important. It really showed that the author researched (or perhaps had expirience in) that field and it's procedures. If the author just skimed over something that is a large part of the protaganists life (and one of the largest reasons he hadn't yet snapped), it would have lacked depth (ex: saying" I went down and embalmed a body" vs. A detailed description). It's like describing a protaganist simply by saying that they had brown hair. Also, I don't think that the "Gross Out Factor" was also as prominent as you said. I believe it is the same thing as the embalming. You can't get fussy because the author was vivid in describing the peaks in the rising action. If it were not for that colorful description and that the main character was profoundly relatable, I would have quickly bored of this book. I would give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Arsalan Abbasi It's a bit silly reading a modern horror book about serial killers if you get squemish when gore is described. This review seems to miss this point completely.

Mike (the Paladin) To each. As I've noted write your own review and express your opinion. It is quite possible to find a subject or a plot interesting without liking the way it's handled.

I have read well written and well handled books about serial killers that don't spend page after page on detailed descriptions of the act.

It can be done.

Also "gore" can be incorporated into a book and be well handled if it's necessary for the scene. Stephen King notes in his book Danse Macabre that there are 3 approaches to such scenes...terror, horror and "the gross out". You go for the "gross out" when you can't make either of the other 2 work.

He also notes he's he's not proud. If it's the only way he'll go for the gross out.

Heidi I disagree with the disagreement (by Arsalan). This is not a classic "modern horror book about serial killers" because if it were I would not have read it. It is quite a different genre, which is a psychological study of the inside of the head of a sociopath who struggles everyday against his own nature. Thus I agree that the excessive gore, and the loving dwelling on killing the girl you love seemed a little excessive and put me off too. What I love about these books is that John is aware of what is right and is a good enough person who fights his bad side. When the author describes too excessively the violence it feels as if he is being a bit gratuitous and getting into it too much. I personally would never read the book for the horror, I am reading it to find out if, through love, John ever conquers his inner "Mr. Monster".

Mike (the Paladin) There are really lots of sides to these books (including the "supernatural" facet). I know some people "like" more gore etc. (which frankly worries me a little). The books however are "there" and readers can read them and like whatever it is that appeals to them.

I like the Jack Daniels Mystery series "mostly" as they can be interesting...but when we move into the mind of the psychopath and get a "loving description" of what's being done to the victim I skip forward. I don't care to read it. I can't stand "slasher movies". If I can be said to hate a genre of film I hate those. However the original Halloween movie was a good film. If you actually watch that film there is little blood. It's built on tension, film work and music.

After that however we get a long series of films where you start with a group of young people and kill off one by one in increasingly gruesome ways. I also wonder about people who like those (and my late wife was one). I just don't get it.

So, all that said I like this book because of the plot ans the protagonist's struggle...to each i guess.

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