Monday, May 24, 2010

I am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

I haven’t looked around, but I’m almost positive that anyone who reads this book will say it is about a teenaged Dexter with a dash of Six Feet Under. And it is, sort of. John lives above the mortuary/funeral home his mother and aunt own. He is also a sociopath and having recognized himself as such has constructed a complex set of rules that he has to follow. Rules like if he gets too interested in one person he’ll force himself to pretend they don’t exist for a week, or if he feels like hurting someone he has to give them a compliment. So it is different than Dexter, who channeled his killin’ lovin’ ways into killing other serial killers. But who knows, there are 2 more books to come in the series – maybe that’s where we’re headed next.

Wells also loads his character John with either a destiny or a huge set of uncomfortable coincidences. His full name is John Wayne Cleaver. Depending on your frame of reference he’s either named after a cowboy or a serial killer (John Wayne Gacy). His last name is Cleaver, which can make a convenient murder weapon. His father’s name is Sam, so he is also literally the Son of Sam. The scene in which he goes over this with his therapist is sort of hilarious.

I’m not sure how I feel about this one. On the one hand, I couldn’t put it down. I found John to be a compelling character and his voice to be chilling while at the same time pretty humorous in his ability to pinpoint his disconnect with normal. I liked how the arrival of a serial killer in his town is the catalyst that puts John’s rules for living to the test. I also really liked John’s relationships with his therapist and his mother.

However, there were some plot points that threw me for a loop. Scroll over to see spoilers ->The ding dang serial that comes to town is a freakin’ demon! I’m just not sure how I feel about this melding of fantasy and gritty reality. I mean, I did appreciate how the demon turns out to be more human than John, but come on, a demon? And the way it is introduced. He just tells you things like, “but that was before we knew it was a demon.” I kept thinking he was speaking metaphorically or something. Turns out he wasn’t. It was strange and did odd things to the suspense for me. <- end of spoilers.

There was a lot to like and the issues I had, were more to do with genre bending and so might not be an issue to other readers. I also don’t like gore and this verged on too much gore for me. I am extremely curious as to where the story will go in its next installment. Does he run into another serial killer? Does he take up killing himself? So many possibilities.

Book Source: Publisher Review Copy


Mrs. DeRaps said...

Because I love Dexter and 6 Feet Under, I am placing this title firmly on my wishlist. Thanks for the recommendation.

Patti said...

The author must have been a fan of those shows, too much of a coincidence not to have been!

I hope you enjoy it!