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The Hollow City Hardcover – July 3, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“The beauty of the prose, mixed with the depth of characterization, gave the haunting, first person narrative a human touch….” ―Brandon Sanderson, New York Times bestselling author on I Am Not a Serial Killer

“This dazzling, unput-downable debut novel proves beyond a doubt that Dan Wells has the gift.” ―F. Paul Wilson on I Am Not a Serial Killer

“Brilliant! Full of unforgettable characters, creepy thrills, and dangerous twists you won't see coming.” ―Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author on I Don't Want to Kill You

“Fans of Jeff Lindsay's Dexter series will welcome Wells's gripping debut.” ―Publishers Weekly on I Am Not a Serial Killer

About the Author

Dan Wells is the author of I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don't Want to Kill You. He lives in Orem, Utah, with his wife, Dawn, and four young children.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765331705
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765331700
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,205,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I'm a big fan of Dan Wells. I loved the John Cleaver series for all its psychological terrorising, and while I enjoyed Partials, I actually missed having Wells play with my mind. So when I heard that Wells was returning to supernatural psychological thrillers with The Hollow City I became very excited and set aside a bunch of time to make this book a priority. And I'm glad that I did - The Hollow City lived up to my expectations, bending my perception of reality to the point where I could never be sure of what was real and what was a hallucination.

The story follows Michael Shipman, a man with a history of mental health issues who was found huddling under a bridge. His delusions have progressed past what is manageable and his psychiatrist has not choice but to upgrade his condition from anxiety to schizophrenia and put him in the care of the local mental hospital. To top it all off, there is a serial killer on the loose and all the victims are connected to Michael in some way, shape or form. Not a good day for Michael. The problem for Michael is that while many of the monsters he sees are just a symptom of his condition, some of the monsters he sees are real, and they have a plan.

This is a pretty cool story, a reasonably simple story, but one that relies on the unreliability of the main character to add in the layers of complexity. The plot is not the driver in this story, sitting itself firmly in backseat while the focus is put on Michael and his struggle to determine what is real and what isn't. There is a really cool supernatural conspiracy going on in the background, but the problem is that Michael's struggles are so interesting for so much of the book that I found myself not really caring about the supernatural conspiracy.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I give this book five stars because The Hollow City connected with me in a way that few books have been able to - it really hit that nerve. Mental illness of this sort is something I have some very strong connections to and let me tell you, it is...very frightening. The book is not perfect, but I could not put it down.

As always, Dan Wells shines is in his portrayal of his mentally disturbed protagonists, and his portrayal of Michael Shipman, paranoid schizophrenic, is spot on. Michael’s journey through reality, both of his own making and of the one that we live in was heartbreaking. Understanding that there really are people in the world who see terror in the most simple objects (clocks, cell phones, TV’s, paintings, etc.)...well, yeah - it’s upsetting.

I know that some readers were put off by the supernatural elements in Wells’ John Cleaver books (though it didn’t bother me), and while The Hollow City also takes a “supernatural twist”, I think this time around the ending is integrated much more smoothly and convincingly.

Here's my only real gripe: I wish that Wells had written this book for a YA audience, because the pace of the novel would have benefited from tightening it down via the lens of a YA editor...that sounded more complicated than I meant. Lemme try that again: fantastic premise, utterly gripping protagonist, very simple writing style, marvelous ending - it’s got all the ingredients for a fresh take on the dystopian YA scene...but it’s got too much padding. About half of the way through the novel, the action begins to plod. Fortunately, because the writing is so simple the slow parts are still a breeze to read. Then the ending kicks in and the sh!t gets real.

Dan Wells' The Hollow City features another creepy, fantastic and sympathetic protagonist dropped into a great story. Take a day or two and plow through this quick read - it's totally worth it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
From my blog

Dan Wells is a master at characters, you are totally on their side when you truly should be scared of them. John from I am not a Serial Killer trilogy an all time favourite character of mine was trying not to become a serial killer and Michael Shipman, wow, a brilliant mind with a twist of crazy, trying to convince everyone including himself he wasn't crazy.

Michael was an unreliable character, this was what made the book, he was delusional with paranoia tendencies, scared off all electronics. You didn't know what was reality, is it just in his mind or is he trying to manipulate everyone. You also start to believe in the science fiction futuristic possibilities he discusses. I also enjoyed that there were numerous characters, all playing a huge part. We have the police detectives following the Red Line Killer story, Michael's Doctors, the reporter, his father and girlfriend. Different parts of everyone's story was totally unexpected, great twists thrown in.

I was enjoying The Hollow City almost as much as I am not a Serial Killer trilogy but once we got to the last 25%, the meaning of The Hollow City, I was hit with science fiction/dystopian style and it killed the story for me. I was MAD, why ooh why, sigh. I was deflated by the ending.

I am still a fan and will always recommend the trilogy but this one just didn't do it for me at the end. And I love psychological thrillers, which this is, Dan Wells totally messes with our mind. I recommend you still try it.

The question if Michael is truly insane or has been setup is a brilliant suspense journey.

I love Dan Wells mind, the way he thinks and puts those creative thoughts on paper, an author I will always try. I didn't read Partials, but it has been labeled Dystopian which I have tried a few times, it is just not for me.
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