As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

June 18, 2011

I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, by Dan Wells, 2009

I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver Books)John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it. He’s spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential. He’s obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn’t want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he’s written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation. Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don’t demand or expect the empathy he’s unable to offer. Perhaps that’s what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there’s something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat---and to appreciate what that difference means. (Amazon)

Review by Steve Diamond, host of Elitist Book Reviews

Dan Wells has crafted something extraordinary with his first novel, I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER.

John Wayne Cleaver is the protagonist of the book, and as you find out very early on, he isn't your average teenager. His troubles go much deeper than most, and are much more serious. You see, he worries that he might become a serial killer. He has all the tendencies of a sociopath, and he is very aware of how dangerous they are.

John is obsessed with serial killers (he even writes reports on them in school)--how could he not be considering his tendencies, and the fact that he is named John Wayne Cleaver (though his mother swears she didn't name him after the serial killer John Wayne Gacy). John, a boy in high school who also works at his family mortuary, begins to notice a strange pattern in the murders that are taking place in his small town. His personal investigation of the murders puts him in a unique position to expose the killer, and also puts him in danger of losing himself to his inner sociopath.

What is so awesome about I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, is that it doesn't seem to follow the typical public's view of "horror." It seems like people are hell-bent on assuming that horror is synonymous with hack-and-slash and blood-and-gore. Guess what? That's garbage, and Wells proves it in this amazing novel--the first in a trilogy--that the old-school flavor of horror built on suspense and character development is the way horror should be written and enjoyed.

Wells’ writing is clever, and extremely well done. There are moments where the novel seems YA, and others where is straight-up Horror/Supernatural Horror. It is this accessible blend that really made this book excellent, and made it stand out.

When I read this novel, I somehow managed to feel pleasantly disturbed, amused, horrified, terrified, and awed. How often can one book evoke that range of emotions, and make you pleased about all of them? I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER does just that, and more.

This is not just a clone of Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter novels.  It is even better than the Dexter novels because you can get behind John Cleaver as a character, plus we get some fantastic supernatural elements as the novel progresses.

Mr. Monster (John Cleaver Books)Don't be afraid to pick up this novel. Indulge your “inner demon,” if you will. This will be one of those novels that you will find impossible to put down, and when you’ve finished, you will want to recommend it to everyone you know.  Then you’ll immediately want the sequel—MR. MONSTER—a novel that is even better than this one!

Market: Horror, Young Adult, Adult
Language: None
Sensuality: None
Violence: Scenes depicting the embalming process, a monster murdering people, a kid who has some seriously messed-up thoughts…yeah there’s some violence, and it’s thematically perfect and creepy
Mature Themes: The main character is obsessed with serial killers, and he has some pretty freaky thoughts about going that route himself

Book formats:

To learn more about the author, visit: Dan Wells


Anonymous said...

This books sounds...I don't know. Freaky, maybe. Absolutely intriguing, definitely. I'm gonna give it a try! Thanks for reviewing this book, Steve!

Amy Finnegan {} said...

I've heard that this book is not only a great read, but tastefully done (in other words, it isn't Dexter with bloodly messes all over the place). That's what I've HEARD, anyway :)

I'd really like to read it. Hope I can find the courage. Or I'll have my husband read it and tell me about it, scene by scene.

Thanks for the great review, Steve! I hope we hear from you again soon!

(And I'm sorry about the extra spaces between the paragraphs. I'm trying to figure out why Blogger does that sometimes. Sometimes I can fix it, and sometimes I can't. Still working on it!)

Steve Diamond said...

Glad you both liked the review! This book is completely awesome, so I hope you (and all the readers weighing it out) give Dan Wells' stuff a shot.

And Amy, don't stress about the formatting. Blogger is freaking weird.