I Am Not a Serial Killer
by Dan Wells
Published: March 30th 2010
Publisher: Tor Books
John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it.
He's spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential.
He's obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn't want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he's written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation.
Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don't demand or expect the empathy he's unable to offer. Perhaps that's what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there's something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat---and to appreciate what that difference means.
Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can't control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.
Dan Wells's debut novel is the first volume of a trilogy that will keep you awake and then haunt your dreams.
I am so guilty of having this book on my TBR for a long time and suddenly realizing the movie is coming out TOMORROW so eep, I better read (or listen!) to it.
Does anyone else not fully read book descriptions before picking them up? I am a big advocate for having the least amount of expectations (and spoilers) going into any book/movie/tv show to the point where I don't typically watch trailers or anything, including reading book descriptions.
With that said, not reading the description lead me to a big surprise in the middle of the story. That turned out to be less of an issue than I thought it would be, though I shouldn't have been surprised considering Dan Wells is a scifi writer and this book is published by Tor. Big DOH on my part.
Anyways, John Wayne is posed as a teen with murder-ish thoughts. He's diagnosed anti-personality disorder but he's self aware enough that he knows how to limit himself. He's got a good therapist and supportive family, something not often seen in books. This was a pleasant surprise to me, as it's not often that mental illness is being managed appropriately (but YA does this much more often than adult fiction and it seems lately that we are seeing more and more of this).
Of course, it's harder to keep yourself in check when the murders are happening all around you. Those of us who enjoy (weird choice of words, I know) true-story crime can understand the fascination. John himself picks the BTK killer for an assignment, much to his teacher's and mother's dismay. This is not only a story of him uncovering a killer but the story of how he changes. There are three more books in this series so I can only imagine how he changes into young adulthood.
It's hard to imagine this was Dan Wells' first novel, as it's well written and easy to follow. I listened to the audiobook, which I would not recommend (first one ever) because the narrator is clearly an older man with little intonation. The performance doesn't match the characterization at all.
Watch out for our upcoming Novel to Reel post! Tell us, have you seen the trailer?