Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

First off, try not to read this book in public unless you want people to give you strange looks. The cover has the title in huge "look at me" bold lettering, and you wont be able to explain it to everyone. Especially the Philipino girl giving you a pedicure who barely speaks English, but by that look in her eyes clearly understands the words "serial killer."

I'm on a roll lately, arent I? Reading all sorts of morbid serial killer books and loving them. Dont start worrying about me. I promise I am not developing an obsession. Yet.

This is a Young Adult book, sort of the teen version of Dexter. And sort of the paranormal, more innocent version as well. Dexter kills alot. We dont even know how many people he has actually killed. Dozens. Hundreds. I dont know. Whereas, the 15 year old protaganist in this book hasnt actually killed anyone. He just really really wants to. He knows he's a sociopath, he knows he is on his way to becoming a serial killer. But he fights it. He wants to be good. Which is fascinating. So here's what I learned:

Once again, I learned that names are important in novels. The protag's name in this book is John Wayne Cleaver. Creepy right? He even draws special attention to his name when talking with his therapist. He feels like he is destined to be a serial killer with all the coincidences in names: John Wayne Gacey is one of the most notorious serial killers of all time. And his father's name is Sam....making him the Son of Sam. Gives me shivers.

I also learned that sometimes nasty things are interesting. Let me clarify. The very first chapter we learn all about the process of embalming a dead body. The protag lives above a mortuary with his mother, who is the town's mortician. So all his life he has helped his mother and her twin sister in running the mortuary. So he describes in detail the chemicals used in preserving the body for the funeral, and how they drain the blood with a vaccum and then pump brightly colored fluids into the bodies. It was very interesting to say the least.

I learned that suspense keeps the reader turning the pages. No big revelation here. Lots of things make people turn pages: action, sexual tension, etc. Well, I finished this book in two reading sessions because I just didnt want to put it down. I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. And I never expected what did. I was almost always surprised and shocked.


I learned that inner voice is essential. I loved the protag's "monster behind the wall" as he calls it. Author Dan Wells did a great job here of letting us know what was going on inside the protag, and making us sympathize with him. Making us root for him. Making us love him.

I gotta get my hands on the second book: Mr. Monster. (This is a three book series).

P.S. I met Dan Wells at a conference last week, and his agent Sara Crowe, and I loved them so much I immediatlely came home and bought this book. No, I didnt rent it from the library. I wanted to make sure they got paid for their amazing work. Sometimes thats just how I roll.

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