May 20, 2013

"I Am Not A Serial Killer" by Dan Wells

Title: I Am Not A Serial Killer

Author: Dan Wells

Series: John Cleaver, #1

My rating: 5 of 5

(Book read from April 28th to April 30th, 2013)


 The first book in a darkly comic new series from a debut author 

John works in his family’s mortuary and has an obsession with serial killers. He wants to be a good person, but fears he is a sociopath, and for years he has suppressed his dark side through a strict system of rules designed to mimic 'normal' behavior.  

Then a demon begins stalking his small town and killing people one by one, and John is forced to give in to his darker nature in order to save them. As he struggles to understand the demon and find a way to kill it, his own mind begins to unravel until he fears he may never regain control. Faced with the reality that he is, perhaps, more monstrous than the monster he is fighting, John must make a final stand against the horrors of both the demon and himself.

My Thoughts on the Book:

I've wanted to read the John Cleaver trilogy for a long time now, even since one of my fav bloggers (Carolyn @ Book Chick City) praised it a lot on her blog a few years ago, but I just haven't gotten around to it. But, I have to say that I was a little bit under wrong impression about it. Why? Well, I thought it was your standard serial killer thriller, only YA, but it's actually a YA serial killer horror or as it says on the cover of the 3rd book - A Serial Killer Thriller with a Twist - this is definitely the perfect description.

I Am Not A Serial Killer is one of those books that stays with you long after you've finished them.

To be honest, I have no idea how to review this book without including any spoilers & going into details why it was so awesome, but I'll try.

John Cleaver is a 15-year old boy, who has a great potential to become a serial killer. He's obsessed with serial killers, he studies them, and he has traits that 95% of all serial killers have, he has murderous thoughts often, and he knows that if he isn't careful, he might become a killer, something he doesn't want to be. That's why he has these strict rules that he follows to prevent that. He also loves helping his mother & aunt at their mortuary with the embalming of the dead, although this hasn't influensed his tendencies, but actually helps him control them. He also visits a therapist - Dr. Neblin - with whom he talks about all of this, and visits because of it.

 The most fascinating thing in this book is definitely the main character - John Cleaver. He's one really well-developed character, and surprisingly thoroughly likable - I actually loved him as a character. I mean, he's almost a sociopath, he doesn't feel any empathy, and he thinks about hurting people, and about killing people all the time, so, you wouldn't expect to love him as a character. I absolutely loved learning how he realised that something isn't normal about him, and how he started coming up with his rules to stop behaving in a way that will make him hurt those around him, and even other rules for the previous rules in case he breaks one. I thought all of that was brilliantly done.

So, when suddenly someone starts killing people in his town, he's fascinated, and he wants to learn why he's doing it, and of course he tries to track him down. So, when he caughts the killer in the act, and his first attempt at stopping him doesn't work, he realizes he's probably the only one who can stop him. So, he starts breaking his rules one by one, trying to find out more about the Clayton Killer, and how to stop him.

But, after he has stopped keeping his bad impulses in check & released his darkness, will he be able to contain it again?

I thoroughly loved this book! I found it fascinating, suspenseful, brilliant, gory, thrilling & filled with lots of twists & turns. Amazing thriller that I think everyone would enjoy, even adults. I expected it to be great, but I was still blown away.

I loved the story, although we learn quite early who the killer is, but it's not your usual story about who the killer is & catching him, but about how John faces all of his killing tendencies in a situation that can make him go over the edge. But there were plenty of surprises & I definitely didn't expect lots of the things in the end. Also, my heart was breaking for John again & again through the book. Yeah, I totally cried a lot, and I'm not sorry to admit it, because I also found this book really heartbreaking. Yeah, I bawled my eyes out.

As for the writing style, I absolutely loved it. Dan Wells has crafted quite a tale with his words & he's got himself a new fan. And this was his first book, and it was totally enthralling.

Also, I should mention the goriness in this book, that isn't only about blood & the killing, but about the embalming, too, which is really detailed, so this might not be a book for everyone. But, I found it really interesting to learn about it. I've never thought about it, but it was obvious the author did a lot of research on it, as well as serial killers, and incorporated all of that in a perfect way.

I Am Not A Serial Killer is one of the most memorable thrillers I've read, with one of the most memorable main characters, and I can't recommend it enough. The John Cleaver trilogy joined my list of all time fav series, and I know I will thoroughly enjoy reading these books again & again!



  1. I've wanted to read this one for along time too. I didn't even realize it was YA. Since I like Dexter many people have recommended it to me. It is interesting to read about the mind of a serial killer and still find them likable kind of like with Dexter too.

    1. Yeah, I like a lot Dexter, too, although this was more awesome! I hope you'll get to it soon & enjoy it :)