Saturday, June 11, 2011

Review: 'I Am Not A Serial Killer' by Dan Wells


John Wayne Cleaver is not your typical high school boy.  He is a sociopath, incapable of empathy.  This combined with his fascination with death, fueled by living above his mother’s mortuary, has led him to form an obsession with serial killers.  He studies these murderers in order to prevent himself from becoming one.  When a mutilated bodies start piling up around town, it is John who discovers the true identity of the killer.  Now, can he stop him? 
John is one of the most unique protagonists that I’ve read.  On one hand, he lacks emotions and connection with other humans.  But on the other, he knows right from wrong and strongly wants to be good.  Wells does a wonderful job of balancing these conflicts and John’s struggle with his own emotions, impulses and desires.  He fears that he might become a serial killer because he fits all of the warning signs and profiles.  Yet, it is this self-awareness that is his strongest weapon against this fate. 
The book also has a paranormal twist in that the thing killing people around town is not a person, but a demon.  Something that I found fascinating is how the author contrasted John’s emotions with those of the demon.  It lends to the question of what makes us human.  This, I think, is the core of this novel and the reason I liked it so much. 
There is also a fair amount of dry humor in this book which provides a nice relief from the darker elements of the story. 
Overall, I give I Am Not a Serial Killer
Plot – 4 bookmarks
Character Development – 5 bookmarks
Humor – 4 ½ bookmarks
Paranormal Elements – 3 ½ bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Alexander Gould (John), Dakota Blue Richards (Brooke), Anthony Hopkins (Mr. Crowley), Vanessa Redgrave (Mrs. Crowley), Martha Plimpton (Mother)

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