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I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver, 1) Paperback – March 30, 2010
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“This dazzling, un-put-downable 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, New York Times bestselling author
“The beauty of the prose, mixed with the depth of characterization, gives the haunting, first person narrative a human touch. Regardless of your age or your genre preferences, you will find this story both profound and enthralling.” ―Brandon Sanderson, New York Times bestselling author
About the Author
- Publisher : Tor Books; First edition (March 30, 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0765327821
- ISBN-13 : 978-0765327826
- Item Weight : 8.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.52 x 0.76 x 8.23 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #147,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I loved it so much more than the movie. John is the kind of character every author wishes he/she could create. I certainly do. He's an anti-hero that you can't help but fall in love with, and then you feel guilty about loving someone so screwed up, but that makes you love him more, because he's screwes up. A lovely sick cycle.
If you like incredibly well written YA paranormal, this is for you - don't let the YA deter you, John is every bit as adult as you or I. Maybe more so? He's a self-proclaimed, semi-diagnosed sociopath. He lacks empathy. He's got rules to keep him from doing anything bad, but he really really wants to do bad. He's a training mortician, and he dreams about embalming the girls in his classes. Yet there's something about him that's easy to associate with. Or maybe I'm just a psycho, who knows. He knows he can't hurt people, but when someone else starts hurting the people in his town, he figures maybe he can fight fire with fire. Emphasis on fire.
I will be honest - the series did not maintain the excellence that was this first novel. You can't maintain a character like John without losing something.
But with that being said, I inhaled all five over the course of four days, and I'm anxiously awaiting book six, and none of the books were rated below a 4 star from me, so they're still better than most of the stuff I read.
If you like dark and screwes up and strange and entrancing, I cannot recommend this book enoug
But then a real demon shows up and starts butchering people. And it’s this supernatural component that begins to set I Am Not a Serial Killer apart. We’ve seen the “It takes a killer to catch a killer” angle before; setting John on the trail of an actual monster was an interesting wrinkle.
Beyond the otherworldly aspect, though, what I really liked was how John’s inner conflict drove the story. He convinces himself he’s the only one who can stop the demon, but to do so, he has to unleash his own. Embracing his personal darkness both helps and hurts his cause: John’s confident he can kill the demon, but he’s drawn to—and distracted by—the carnage his quarry leaves in its wake. The demon also turns out to be a reluctant villain, motivated by emotions that make it feel more human to John than he does to himself.
My only real issue was that the supernatural element ultimately felt a little underplayed (and late; it doesn’t get introduced until several chapters in). John is shocked when he first sees the demon reveal its true form, but he doesn’t seem surprised that it exists. Even if this is because he lives with his own beast, I could have done with more of John researching tales of demons, looking to mythology for ways to defeat them, etc.
Oh, and it goes without saying that the story is super twisted. But if you liked Dexter or want to see a great example of how to connect—and complicate—a character’s inner and external goals, give I Am Not a Serial Killer a shot.
I may not be the target audience for this series.
The writing itself is simple and straightforward. It's not lyrical by any stretch, but it's not objectionable, either.
I think the author tried to make John, our sociopathic main character, more likable by making him want desperately to be good, but I just didn't buy it. A sociopath, by definition, has no empathy, does not believe in social contracts, does not care whether other people live or die, and doesn't desire to be "good" but only to do whatever necessary to further their own agendas. Maybe I'm too well-informed to be able to suspend my disbelief on that score, but I just didn't buy that John would go to such great lengths to be his own Jiminy Cricket.
At any rate, I don't think I will continue with this series. It's just not for me. 2.5 stars for not being horrid.
Top reviews from other countries
Wells's writing style was very factual and straight to the point, which might not work for every book. However, it just made this one even creepier and more gruesome, and it fit perfectly for John as narrator. The cold facts and the lack of emotion in the writing style made John truly come alive on the page. I do have to confess that it also made me take breaks while reading, because it was creepy and made my skin crawl multiple times. The mystery, murders, and chasing a serial killer got my pulse racing and it was terrifying to wait and see what happens next. Absolutely a thrill.
If you like chilling thrillers and horror, I Am Not A Serial Killer is the right choice for you. I do recommend it, and I'm not one to usually read horror stories.
John is such an intriguing character and you're simultaneously horrified and fascinated by how his mind works and how he deals with the problems of his inclinations. He is also very (darkly) funny. The story is really absorbing and it was all over far too quickly - I immediately bought the next one the series. A really great book. Buy it.
It shocked me how easy it was to read. This is, strangely, a book with restrained prose. This actually ties in with the main character's sociopathic voice. The sparse but effective descriptions fit the stereotypical, small town setting, while side characters feel like real, but unexplored, people (again John is a sociopath with a good degree of teenage angst). I look forward to sequels, where I'm sure these different characters will all be explored. There are not many (if any) mis-steps here for me.
If I had to gripe I could say that I wanted more from Max and that I guessed many of the reveals a little earlier than I should have (but I have heard a lot about John Cleaver) and I found myself uncomfortable with one or two of John's actions/comments -- then again that might be because... I am not a serial killer!
The story did not go how I expected. I laughed, I cried; I felt genuine emotion. Ultimately, this book gets 4* because I've been struggling to finish what I start and this was an easy and fun (?) read. I have to question my sanity for sympathizing with John Cleaver but that's what we pay therapists for. Enjoy it!
I love how it was written from the perspective of a 15 year old. It was written really well, and had vibes of dexter and catcher in the rye. The emotion was brilliant and the depth of the protagonist was great. I loved the knowledge the author displayed on serial killers and that John had traits, and his view of things was never faultered keeping in line his traits as a serial killer whilst narrating.
However, 3 stars is all I'd give it. The writing style deserves 5 stars and most of the story deserves 4 stars. But I just didnt like the parts that were unrealistic. I didnt like the fact of a demon killing and dont prefer books on the paranormal side. That is just preference on my part and I would definitely reccomend it as a book to read regardless of my taste or your own taste as the book itself is written wonderfully.