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Mr. Monster (John Cleaver) Paperback – September 28, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the John Cleaver Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up–This follow-up to Wells's I Am Not a Serial Killer (Tor, 2010) revisits Clayton County and its resident teenaged sociopath, John Wayne Cleaver, who in the earlier book saved his town from the vicious “Clayton Killer.” Only John's mortician mother knows the disturbing circumstances surrounding the ultimate demise of Mr. Crowley, serial killer and demon, at the hands of her son. Unfortunately, John's involvement jump-started an already-urgent desire to kill. In a valiant attempt at normalcy, he is able to keep it at bay with strict personal rules and pyromania as a release. But now “Mr. Monster” has tasted blood and wants more. New bodies, brutally tortured, turn up courtesy of Clayton's latest supernatural serial killer, who is curious about fellow demon Crowley's fate. Will “Mr. Monster” be satisfied if John defeats this mysterious new demon? Or will both demon and bloodlust destroy John just when he's managed something akin to a social life? Wells's grisly and cleverly narrated sequel explains just enough for new readers to jump right in, but fans will likely search out the first book and anticipate the third. Intelligent, self-aware, observant, John is a unique protagonist who inspires fear or sympathy at any given moment. His battle for control over his own violent nature manages to trump the external demon dangers, which–in this compelling, quick-paced, and chilling read–is a definite feat.–Danielle Serra, Cliffside Park Public Library, NJα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


“An intense, riveting, gut-wrenching dive into the dark world of the demons within us. Let your own inner monster free and immerse yourself in this dark, page-turning adventure.” ―Elitist Book Reviews on I Am Not a Serial Killer

“This dazzling, unputdownable debut novel proves beyond a doubt that Dan Wells has the gift. His teenage protagonist is as chilling as he is endearing. More John Wayne Cleaver, please.” ―F. Paul Wilson on I Am Not a Serial Killer

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Product Details

  • Series: John Cleaver (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765327902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765327901
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dan Wells is the author of several novels for adults, including I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, MR. MONSTER, and I DON'T WANT TO KILL YOU. PARTIALS is his first book for young adults. He lives in Utah with his wife and children. You can visit him online at www.fearfulsymmetry.net

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Being partially to blame for your own therapist's death is a tough thing to deal with, especially because you don't have a therapist anymore to help you through it. Sometimes irony just kicks you in the teeth like that." - John Wayne Cleaver

Yes, John Wayne Cleaver is back, dark humor intact even if his grasp on Mr. Monster is not. In his first outing, I Am Not A Serial Killer, we learned that fifteen-year-old John had been diagnosed by his therapist as a sociopath, and self-diagnosed as a (potential) serial killer. The dark side of John's psyche, which he calls Mr. Monster, is always just below the surface, struggling to escape while John tries desperately to keep it under wraps. That struggle became decidedly more difficult after John confronted and killed a serial killer who was stalking his town in I Am Not A Serial Killer... Mr. Monster's now had a taste of what he wants.

As if trying to keep your homicidal impulses under control isn't enough for a teenager to deal with, Mr. Monster finds John juggling a host of additional challenges: a mother who knows "what" John is but refuses to discuss it; an absent father; an older sister in an abusive relationship (boy does Mr. Monster want a piece of that guy); and an attempted first romance (made extremely awkward by the violent thoughts Mr. Monster has about the object of John's attention). Oh, there are also the horribly tortured dead bodies that start turning up around town, and the FBI agent who seems a little too interested in John's thoughts on the murders.

Mr. Monster is told from John's point of view, as was I Am Not A Serial Killer, that first-person narrative being absolutely crucial for the reader to be privy to the war raging in John between his desire to be normal and Mr. Monster's desire to be set free.
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Format: Paperback
Mr. Monster picks up shortly after the events of I am Not a Serial Killer. John Wayne Cleaver is still struggling with his sociopathic tendencies, brought to the fore in the last book when he squared off against a supernatural opponent, when a new killer comes to town. John has to call on his inner Mr. Monster to fight the new threat, but the real question is which is more dangerous, the new killer, or Mr. Monster?

I enjoyed the first one but I liked this one more. Dan Well's story was excellent, and makes you really care about the protagonist. Mr. Monster is darker than its predecessor, and there are a few scenes where you are find yourself cringing and saying "Oh, John, don't do THAT!" But then he goes and does it, and you're surprised to find that you care about the character's struggle even more.

I can't comment on the ending without giving any spoilers, but it ended on a note that set up the last book in the series perfectly, and it was simply awesome.

-Larry Correia, author of Monster Hunter International
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Dan Wells has certainly done his homework. He pulled me in with I Am Not A Serial Killer, his first look at John Wayne Cleaver, his well-named sociopath (named for both John Wayne Gacy and a weapon). While the first novel explored the relationship between John's good side and "Mr. Monster," his twisted inner demon, this latest novel delves much farther into John's relationship with his own psychosis.

As someone who's always been a little fascinated with serial killers (I've stopped reading the true crime genre but still enjoy thrillers), John is an interesting anti-hero: he wants to be good, but he has to fight himself for the privilege, and he doesn't have any of the usual rewards for being good that the rest of the populace have since he doesn't have positive emotions. We see his anger and fear reactions later in the book, but he really doesn't experience love or other positive emotions like most people do.

John's war with Mr. Monster, as well as his interactions with other characters (his mother, aunt, sister, first crush, other kids at school, and an FBI agent he talks to about the murders occurring in town) reveal a lot about his mental state. Wells has done a brilliant job capturing not only a young mind, but a young sociopathic mind in turmoil. Well done!
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Format: Paperback
This is Dan Wells's second book featuring John Wayne Cleaver. The first book, I Am Not a Serial Killer, introduced John, a fifteen year-old who is obsessed with serial killers. He has an insatiable appetite for information about them. He reads books about them, he studies their profiles and crimes, and he feels a special kind of kinship to them. John is not a serial killer, but he knows he's destined to become one.

Not surprisingly, whenever I describe these books to people, most people say something like, "Sounds kind of like Dexter." There are definitely similarities between the two. Both of them are disturbingly likeable characters. But while Dexter gives in regularly to his "dark passenger" by killing pedophiles and others who he rationalizes are deserving of his skills, John is trying to maintain his tenuous control over his "Mr. Monster," hoping to never begin killing. He sees a therapist regularly and has devised a list of rules that he forces himself follow which he feels will prevent him from ever starting down that road.

Mr. Monster picks up a couple of months after its predecessor left off and I wouldn't recommend reading it without first having read the other. I think Dan Wells is an author whose popularity is going to grow if he continues to write books as interesting and entertaining as these two have been.
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