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I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver) Paperback – March 30, 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 255 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the John Cleaver Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The teenage (and innocent) John Wayne Cleaver swears he is not the serial killer that has emerged in his small town--despite his grisly name and a series of unpleasant and eerie similarities. His fascination with the killer leads him to launch his own investigation of sorts-- one that leads him to the identity of the murderer. There are shades of Jeff Lindsay's darkly comic Dexter series, but John Allen Nelson is miscast. His female voices are grating caricatures, and he cannot become the protagonist--his voice is too deep, assured, and assertive even when the text suggests otherwise. A Tor hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 1).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


“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

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Product Details

  • Series: John Cleaver (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1 edition (March 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765327821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765327826
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (255 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition
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.
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