Carolyn (Book Chick City)'s Reviews > I Am Not A Serial Killer

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells
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Sep 22, 11

bookshelves: horror, young-adult, book-list-2010, favorites, reviewed-by-carolyn
Read from March 19 to 20, 2010

I Am Not A Serial Killer gives a fascinating glimpse into the psyche of a fifteen year old boy on the verge of possibly becoming a serial killer. It delves into the human side of what it's like to have dark, murderous thoughts and how to keep them in check.

I was surprised at how much I liked the main protagonist, John Cleaver. Wells has created a character that I sympathise with rather than fear and I'm certainly intrigued to find out what kind of person he grows up to be. John is completely aware of his unnatural feelings and behaviour, which he refers to as Mr Monster. He knows who he is and who he doesn't want to become. His character also made me question whether this is how all serial killers started out and would I have liked them too. However, the issues John Cleaver has as a possible sociopath/serial killer are chilling.

John visits a therapist on a regular basis talking through his disturbing thoughts. He also has a list of rules to prevent him from becoming the serial killer he thinks he is. Rules to not stare at someone for too long as he may become obsessed and begin to stalk them; say nice things to people even if he's thinking otherwise; not harm animals etc. These rules make him feel in control even if sometimes he ends up breaking them.

John enjoys helping his mother and aunt in the mortuary, working with the dead bodies, examining them, touching them. He's very inquisitive but most importantly it keeps him calm. His mother is worried about him as well as a little fearful, but as this is a first person narrative we don't get to hear what she is thinking, but through John and the dialogue between them, we get to feel her emotion and feelings of helplessness and confusion.

There are strong visual scenes, especially with the desctiption of how a body is embalmed, so if you're not used to this kind of thing then just be warned it isn't for the faint hearted and certainly has the 'ick' factor. As the book suggests, a strong stomach is essential.

The story is great and there is an element of fantasy with the inclusion of a demon, although I think this book would have worked equally well without the demon and in many ways may have made it even darker. I thoroughly enjoyed following John's process to catch and kill the demon, but It's the human side of the story that interested me the most. I really enjoy reading and watching anything to do with serial killers. Jack the Ripper being my favourite. I find these kinds of people fascinating and monstrous in equal measure.

Verdict:

I Am Not A Serial Killer is easy to read without being simplistic and flows throughout each chapter really well. There isn't a dull moment anywhere and the action is consistent enough to keep you turning the page, but John Cleaver is the star. An interesting and likable character with a dark side that keeps you completely engrossed in the story. Although it's a fairly dark and sinister tale, it's not morbid and has a fair amount of humour to lighten the tone. I Am Not A Serial Killer is a fantastic read and one that I highly recommend.

I actually gave this 9/10 on my blog, but Goodreads doesn't offer half stars.
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03/19/2010 page 140
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