May 7, 2012

Review: I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver #1) by Dan Wells

Review of Croatian edition
Mass Market Paperback, 215 pages
Published: January 2011 by Znanje, Zagreb (first published 2009)
Source: purchased
My rating: 4/5
Goodreads Summary: 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.
Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.
Dan Wells’s debut novel is the first volume of a trilogy that will keep you awake and then haunt your dreams.

My Review: 

I finished this book in less than 10 hours-literally devoured it, so I guess that's a nice indicator of how absorbing it is in every way possible: plot, writing, character development, suspense...It seems like a fair warning for anyone whose stomach doesn't respond well to goriness-there's a lot of graphic scenes of violence, and very detailed descriptions of embalming processes. And if that doesn't scare you off, quite quickly into the book you'll get chills just for being introduced to John Cleaver, who is our main character. He is a 15 year old diagnosed sociopath, fascinated by serial killers, skilled in the art of embalming a body, forcing the monster within to lay still.

Wells offers a brilliant, intelligent and terrifying insight into John's mind. This book is a fantastic psychological thriller that will give you goosebumps from the first page. John is a complex character, constantly waging battles with the monster within. Will it eventually get out? Satisfy its lust for killing?

Enter the killer who spreads terror just in front of John's door. And *almost* lose me there.

I don't understand why the paranormal aspect was necessary. Everything worked perfectly within the boundaries of the real world. It would be a more than satisfying read without the killer from another realm. I'm not saying that it didn't work. It did. And that...thing is just as interesting and engaging a character as John. But it completely threw me out of balance. I read the rest of the book with different eyes and I didn't feel as amazed like in the beginning. Wells shows you all the complexity of a human mind, creates fantastic human characters and then some turn out to be not-human... I felt kind of...betrayed.

Despite that aspect that I personally could do without, I'd still highly recommend this book if you love psychological thrillers. It's a daring, intelligent and chilling book nonetheless, a complex and engaging read and I'm glad I finally picked it up from my tbr pile.
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