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.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Holy Dexter! I love you.

Dear Dexter,
Thank you for changing my world. Don't tell my husband that I am writing you this love note, but I will never forget the late nights we spent together in bed until the wee hours of the morning. My fingers wrapped around you, and my heart pounding with every move you made. I cant wait to see you again (in book 2).

Love,
Me

Okay...that was weird. So for those two of you who read this blog, and don't already know this, Dexter was turned into a Showtime Series with Michael C. Hall. I actually watched the whole series (5 seasons) before I started the book, and both are awesome. But just so you know, the book is sufficiently different than the series for them to both be appreciated.

Anyway, this is what I learned:

I learned that I love the anti-hero. Dexter is a serial killer and I love him. He is a witty, clever, smart, hunky serial killer...who only kills the bad guys. So he is likeable. He is sympathetic. And I would argue courageous to take justice into his own hands to get rid of the killers our justice system let go. Now, I am not going to get into the morality of the act of killing here. This is fiction and therefore theoretic in nature. Obviously killing is wrong. But it is interesting to delve into his world where he is trying to make the best of an overwhelming desire to kill. He is honing his urges into doing something good. Heroic even.

I learned that funny is good. Even in a dark book. Dexter often makes me laugh out loud, even in pretty dark situations. This is another side of him that I fell in love with.

I learned that exploring culture in the setting is super interesting. This book is set in Miami, and therefore Cuban culture plays a big part here. So I have grown up on the West Coast and I am more familiar with Mexican culture...yanno, I eat burritos from Robertos, I know what a Vato is, and guacamole is a big part of my life. And in Dexter the Cuban accents, foods, and sayings are integral. I feel like I'm there.

I learned that I am addicted to Dexter, and want some more.