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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever Story With a Very Unique Narrator Character!
I am Not a Serial Killer is a great read, the type of genre the book is changes half way through, I don't want to give away which genre it switches to as that would be giving away a substantial part of the plot. Admittedly, at first I thought oh no, the author has obviously just run out of ideas on how to keep the story going but as I read on those thoughts were proved...
Published on November 8, 2009 by James N Simpson

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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warning....with a caveat
OK- Here's the warning. As others have alluded to or outright said- This book is being marketed in the regular (i.e. grown-up) horror/mystery genre but it clearly belongs in the YA market. I got a few chapters in before that nagging little something in the back of my mind made itself clear and I realized what was going on. The only thing that might give some pause about...
Published on February 9, 2011 by R. Webb


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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever Story With a Very Unique Narrator Character!, November 8, 2009
By 
James N Simpson (Gold Coast, QLD Australia) - See all my reviews
I am Not a Serial Killer is a great read, the type of genre the book is changes half way through, I don't want to give away which genre it switches to as that would be giving away a substantial part of the plot. Admittedly, at first I thought oh no, the author has obviously just run out of ideas on how to keep the story going but as I read on those thoughts were proved wrong, the change of genre works really, really well.

Basic plot of I Am Not a Serial Killer has John Cleaver having recently finished primary school entering high school for the first time in the small town of Clayton. John whose father bailed years ago and whose mother's parental skills are so bad they drove his sister out of the family home, is not popular at all in school. A target for bullies he hangs around with Max, an equally unpopular kid, not because he enjoys his friendship, but because appearing to have conversations with someone else (Max is a talker) will make the other kids and teachers not notice just how different he is. You see John is always trying to keep the monster behind the wall. The monster is the fact that John is a sociopath who has a list of rules he makes himself follow so as not to start on his natural calling as a serial killer. His mother and aunt run the local mortuary and he is fascinated by dead bodies, since it is the only place he seems to be able to communicate with this mother at all, he is always assisting with the preparation of the town's bodies. He has read every detail of famous serial killers' sprees, so when a murder victim is slashed open in the town laundromat and their organs piled up beside them, John knows straight away this is no one off. John can't help but to become obsessed with profiling this killer and trying to catch him in the act of the kill to study his methods up close.

A very good and unique storyline and a very definitely unique character with John Cleaver. If you liked the learning about behind the scenes mortuary parts of the novel also check out Weepin' Willie by Richard Grayson.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry, humor, horror, oh my, April 2, 2010
Short version: I almost didn't read this book, but I'm so happy I did.

Long version. You can scare the crap out of me (Aracnaphobia), and I will love you forever. You can make me bite my nails in terrible suspense (Wait Until Dark, The Village) or throw supernatural at me (Poltergeist) and I will sing with praise. But the moment you do gruesome, the moment you start showing me entrails and organs, my discomfort level shoots through the roof.

And this is why I would not have finished I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Well's if I had just picked it up off a shelf-because the main character is the son of a woman who owns a mortuary. We get to see him help process a mutilated body very early in the book, pumping fluids in etc., and Wells knows his craft so I was THERE. I'm sure it's not too gruesome for some, but I just have issues with organs. I don't know why. I also have an issue with clowns.

Clowns are, by far, the scariest things around. And this is not because I read the book IT by Stephen King as a wee lad because I didn't. It's because they're painted vessels of evil. End of story. They're perfect examples of the freakazoids that lurk in the uncanny valley.

Anyway, I'd heard Wells read a portion of this book that had all of us in the room crying because we were laughing so hard. So I read on, telling myself I had to at least get to that part. And I am so very happy I did.

I Am Not A Serial Killer is young adult story about a good-hearted teen named John Cleaver who is a sociopath with all the traits shared by serial killers. John's in counseling, but more importantly, he is convinced he can prevent himself from becoming a serial killer by keeping rules he's made for himself like not watching people for too long and complimenting someone when they make him angry. Such rules, he hopes, will keep him from feeding compulsions he won't be able to resist. The problem is a real serial killer has come to town (but unlike any you've seen before). And John may be the only one who can stop him. Will he let go of his rules to save the town? Or will he keep his monster asleep while others die around him?

It's a fascinating situation (without a clown in sight, may the writing gods be praised). And Wells takes the reader on a journey through it that includes mystery, dread, and humor. In the hands of some other author, that would be enough. But Wells does more than entertain us. He gives us things to think about. He gives us great characters to boot-come on, when was the last time you read a book where the hero was a likeable sociopath? And there's poetry in it. You'll love how he used William Blake's Tiger Tiger and Little Lamb. Besides, most of the gruesome is up front anyway.

Read this book. Skim the body processing if you must. But you simply don't want to miss the rest. It was a fabulous read and I recommend it highly.
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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Debut!, February 1, 2010
Dan Wells has crafted something extraordinary with his first novel, I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER.

John Wayne Cleaver is our protagonist, and as you find out very early on, he isn't your average teenager. His troubles go much deeper than most, and are much more serious. See, he worries that he might become a serial killer. He has all the tendencies of a sociopath, and he is very aware of how dangerous they are.

John is obsessed with serial killers--how could he not be considering his tendencies, and the fact that he is named John Wayne (though his mother swears she didn't name him after the serial killer John Wayne Gacy). John, a boy in High School who also works at his family mortuary, begins to notice a strange pattern in the murders that are taking place in his small town. His personal investigation of the murders put him in a unique position to expose the killer, and also put him in danger of losing himself to his inner sociopath.

One of the things I especially liked about I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, was that it doesn't seem to follow the typical public's view of "horror." It seems like people are hell-bent on assuming that horror is synonymous with hack-and-slash and blood-and-gore. Guess what? That's garbage, and Dan proves in this amazing novel--the first in a trilogy--that the old-school flavor of horror built on suspense and character is the way it should be written and enjoyed.

Dan's writing is clever, and extremely well done. There are moments where the novel seems YA, and others where is is straight-up Horror/Supernatural Horror. I think it was this accessible blend that really made this book excellent, in my opinion.

When I was reading this novel, I somehow managed to feel pleasantly disturbed, amused, horrified, terrified, and awed. How often can one book evoke that range of emotions, and make you pleased about all of them? I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER does just that.

Now, some people may mistakenly draw parallels to the Jeff Lindsay's character, Dexter. First of all, I know Dan, and he had this idea long before Dexter was even popular. Second, Dan handles the young sociopath infinitely better than Lindsay handles his young Dexter segments. Lastly, Dan's book shifts dramatically from normal Horror to a near-Supernatural Horror part way through the novel (and it succeeds where Lindsay's 3rd Dexter novel turned into complete crap). This book isn't like Dexter. It surpasses Dexter.

On that note, I'll mention that I've read the entire trilogy of Dan's John Cleaver novels. You all won't see them released in the US for a bit, but let me just say that where I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER is an amazing book, the two follow-ups manage to blow it our of the water.

Don't be afraid to pick up this novel. It is incredible, and the sequels that will come out over the next year are even better.

This was easily one of my favorite UK releases from last year, and will be one of my favorite US releases this year.

Recommended Age: 13 and up (the sequels, just so you know, should prolly be for 15 and up)
Language: None
Violence: Well, duh. It get's awesomely crazy at times. You did read the title of the book right?
Sex: None
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and engrossing! Terrific Fun!, April 1, 2010
By 
I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER by Dan Wells is a promising start to what seems to be a wonderful trilogy. I picked it up first because of the title. Okay, I was intrigued. Then I flipped through it and read the copy. Okay, more intrigued. I noticed the blurb from F. Paul Wilson on the cover and thought, hey, if he liked it, I might, too. I like F. Paul Wilson's books very much. So I gave it a shot. I could not put it down. The character of John Wayne Cleaver leaps off the page from the moment you start. Even if the first two chapters are heavy in the process of embalming a corpse, Wells never lets go of the voice and the character of John. We are right there with him as he becomes intrigued in the mystery of a local murder. Halfway through the book in a single sitting, I hated that I had things to do. Wells intricately drops small bits of mystery and then wallops you with a supernatural twist that takes things to a very new level in storytelling. The character of John, without ruining anything, is so real and so true and yet so unique, that you understand his world and his awkward place in it. The dialogue is spot on, the secondary characters are perfectly formed for this small midwestern American town and the action moves along. John is a hero who isn't a hero, a boy who isn't a boy, really, and a typical teen that is atypical. All of these things helped me to have the most fun I've had with a book in a long time. I would disagree with the previous reviewer that this a "good airplane" read. This is pure escapism, pure fun, pure psychological, supernatural and honest storytelling. Dan Wells, if you are reading this, I would like you to know that for a first novel, this is terrific and I will be waiting for TOR to release the second and third installments of the story of John Wayne Cleaver. Everyone else, do yourself a favor and pick up I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER. Trust me. You'll love it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good fun, intriguing character, marketing problem, May 4, 2011
"I am not a serial-killer" is an interesting, at times gripping book. I did not care too much for the "supernatural" element in it but I must admit Dan Wells handled this quite well. The writing is good but aimed at a YA audience ( I should know, I write novels AND novels for YA), but the publishers gloss on this fact to attract a wider audience. Dan Wells can do gruesome, Dan Wells can do funny, Dan Wells can do strange and suspenseful, but he never goes too far in the metaphysics department, which is a pity because the book could use more insight, however flawed, from the main character.
I bought this as a CD and am unfortunately in agreement with a previous poster. The actor reading the book must be around 40, and is a very bad choice for John Wayne Cleaver. He detracts, imho, much from the story, which I'm sure I would have enjoyed much more with a younger narrator. As for the female voices... one word: omg :-(
So please, guys, choose another narrator for books 2 and 3.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse into the mind of a teen sociopath, December 31, 2010
This review is from: I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver Books) (Paperback)
John Wayne Cleaver is just starting high school in Clayton and he's not like his classmates. His mother runs a mortuary and his father has pretty much been nonexistent. John doesn't relate to anyone at all and doesn't connect with people emotionally. Plus his favorite hobby is researching and telling people about serial killers. He is obsessed with them because he thinks if he doesn't stick to his carefully placed rules, he would be one of them. It's not an unwarranted comparison since he shares many traits with them, including being recently diagnosed as a sociopath by his therapist. His only friend is Max, a talkative and annoying boy, who only serves as a cover for John's antisocial tendencies. Because of his inability to relate with his classmates, bullies frequently bother him and he has to will himself to grin and compliment them instead of gutting them like fish. John is intensely interested in a new development in his town: a serial killer who steals organs has been striking with increasing frequency in his very own town. John compiles a psychological profile on the killer, but some things just don't add up. Is this just a run of the mill serial killer or something more nefarious?

When I started reading this book, I automatically thought that I would be reading about a mini version of Dexter Morgan (from Jeff Lindsay's series and the TV show). To some extend the two are similar, but I was relieved to see that they have distinct differences. John was aware of his tendencies and tried to put rules in place to prevent him from becoming a killer. He would stop himself from staring at people or following people around. If he felt angry at someone, he would pay them a compliment instead of acting out the violent fantasies in his head. The killer inside of him is personified as a monster behind the wall of his rules. I think it's interesting that he sees himself and the killer as two separate beings when he's trying to repress it. Later in the novel, he decides he needs to kill the serial killer in Clayton, so he allows that wall to crumble and lets the monster out. Then, he and the creature blur together and he has to frequently stop himself from giving in to the homicidal urges with innocents in his town. The most interesting aspect of his narrative for me was his sociopathic view of people. He views them as objects and only connects emotionally through creating fear within the other person. It makes his relationships with other people like sick imitations of real ones. For instance, he feels drawn to a girl and I assume it's because he likes her and wants to be her boyfriend. Not so. He make her view him as the only person in the world and then kill her. The fact that John is only in high school makes his view of people all the more chilling. I think John is a bit darker than Dexter despite his age because he is still struggling between being a killer who kills innocents and a killer who kills other murderers.

I was a little disappointed that the villain in the novel turned out to be a supernatural creature. I don't really like my serial killers mixed with demons and the like when it's unexpected, which is the reason why I really hated the third Dexter novel. However, I accepted it and moved on. I did enjoy the rest of the novel and I am looking forward to the second book, Mr. Monster. Despite the violence, I consider the novel appropriate for young adults because it's a sort of homicidal coming of age story. I would also recommend this to fans of the Dexter TV and book series.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warning....with a caveat, February 9, 2011
OK- Here's the warning. As others have alluded to or outright said- This book is being marketed in the regular (i.e. grown-up) horror/mystery genre but it clearly belongs in the YA market. I got a few chapters in before that nagging little something in the back of my mind made itself clear and I realized what was going on. The only thing that might give some pause about firmly placing this book in the YA catagory is there are some fairly gory passages, but everything else- characterization, pacing, length- points to the YA market.

Now the caveat- I enjoyed this book. I'm a sucker for a good premise and this book has that in spades. I was a bit turned off by the twist about halfway through, but overall thought this was a good effort. Sadly, I won't continue the series as the 'thinness' of YA literature is just not my cup of tea.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost, April 29, 2010
By 
John Bowes (Oxford, MA USA) - See all my reviews
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This starts, looking like a young "Dexter", before anyone is a victim. At that point it looked promising. But then it got all supernatural and downhill from there. Disappointment followed quickly. Nice start tho.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Am Not A Serial Killer: A Teen's Perspective, September 15, 2010
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I loved it. I loved it. I loved it.

I usually don't being my reviews with something so simplistic like that but the fact remains that I love this book. I happened across I Am Not A Serial Killer while looking for murder mystery novels that were written from the perspective of the murderer. John Cleaver is everything I have ever wanted in a character. Dark, sick-minded, and psychotic, this book allowed me to delve into my secret innermost thoughts and feelings that I keep hidden away under lock and key from the world, my own "monster". My only beef with the book is the improbability of Mr. Crowley being a demon, that revelation seemed a bit contrived but I enjoyed the story nonetheless. I have pre-ordered Mr. Monster and am anxiously awaiting anything else in the trilogy by Wells.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shiver and thrill, September 6, 2010
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Love this book. I'm not generally a horror fan but this book I couldn't put down. John Cleaver is such a complex protagonist, I can't tell if I love him or am appalled by him. I'll stick with love because he kills bad guys and makes me laugh.
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I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver Books)
I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver Books) by Dan Wells (Paperback - March 30, 2010)
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