I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver)


I Am Not a Serial Killer is the story of John Cleaver, a 15-year-old sociopath who works in a mortuary, dreams about death, and thinks he might be turning into a serial killer. He sets strict rules to keep himself “good” and “normal,” but when a real monster shows up in his town he has to let his dark side out in order to stop it–but without his rules to keep him in check, he might be more dangerous than the monster he’s trying to kill.


       Upon gaining detailed information about Book Expo America, I immediately latched  onto the name “Dan Wells,” because the name had a certain feeling of familiarity. Wracking my brain for the source of this association, I summoned thoughts related to “Brandon Sanderson.” And then drew the final connecting thought that Brandon Sanderson had been referring to this book on occasion upon his blog. And for some reason the title “I am not a serial killer,” greatly interested me because the book seemed to be a person’s weak defense of not being a serial killer. Even when the proof of nearly five grisly murders were incontrovertible. Especially since the DNA found on each of these cadavers matches the main characters. How then could the main character assert such a fallacious point when the scientific facts shows he was not only disrespectfully handling these bodies. He had caused their immediate deaths in manners that are unheard of to those with strong consciences. 

   Disregard the past few sentences because this summation comes directly from my hypothesis about the book’s storyline. Differently, the story actually acts as a combination of a science fiction novel, a psychological thriller, and a CSI related crime show. Strangely, the book can work as all three simultaneously and still compel us effectively to continue reading. Strikingly, the author utilizes my favorite brand of humor to allow the sensitive, death related material to be approachable. He uses a unique brand of sarcasm spiced with a good heaping of intelligent black humor. 

    Weirdly, with this character’s neurosis voice driving the story. The beginning scenes of gruesome,bodily dissection are actually readable and strangely interesting. Effectively, at the beginning, the character’s state of mind becomes enmeshed with ours. Soon enough, we’re indirectly facing some irrational fears of whether or not we are developing symptoms of a severe dissociative disorder. This could perhaps slowly develop us into effective serial killers who are tactful with murder and not skilled with realizing the moral ramifications of these actions. Just as the main character creates binding rules for himself to restrict the inner beast’s effects. We begin self analyzing ourselves for any negative influence this story may have upon our precious psyches. Because like every great psychological thriller like “Seven,” Dan Wells frightens us with the possibility we may be reciprocating some of the main character’s behaviorism. Similar to a hypochondriac, I was self evaluating myself for any potential signs of serial “killerism”. 

Towards the middle half, the story slowly develops into a science fiction story of Alien proportions. Some of the earlier psychological intrigue  is toned down in order to effectively bring in this new story element. Compared with the beginning, the styling of the writing seemed to greatly change. And though, the main character seemed to constantly be deeply developed. Some of the profound psychological content that originally drew me into this book partially vanished at this point. Mind you, I greatly enjoyed the second half of the story for very different reasons than the first. But a part of myself wishes, the author could have plunged further into the character’s conflict while still driving the exterior story. Again, the task of balancing these two story elements can be a near impossible task. Dan Wells definitely handles these deftly though the internal story itself does become slightly weaker when the story segues into the second half . 

Even with this minor drawback, I am still waiting with bated breath for further ventures into this well designed universe. More importantly, I’m stoked for the possibility the story could involve some really neat developments with the main character in further stories. Additionally, I hope Dan Wells continues to incorporate humor effectively with these horrific scenes.  Because one of the story’s strengths of precise comic relief greatly leavens the uncomfortable tension felt around serial killer related plots. Law and Order normally involves this sort of material with highly moralistic characters who are unable to form smart puns that enable them to handle tough, emotional situations. This story however did not deeply disgust me because the humor eased the reader into a very dark place. Once in it, we could safely travel through it because we empathize with the character and attempt to understand him.  In this safely handled world, we can begin to uncover things which formerly we faced with too much trepidation. Comic Relief in this story wraps us snugly in a security blanket but also strengthens the deductive skills of our mind. By the end, you’ll understand the many psychological angles involved with the simple statement of “I am not a serial killer.” 

Publisher’s Note: Though there’s a side note on my blog, if you found this review informative and deftly written. Also if you liked the unconvential humor involved and would love for my styling of reviews to cover your novels. Feel free to email me at narniafanatic(at)gmail(dot)com. Right now, I’m facing an arduous struggle to find creative energy to write those reviews with the knowledge of the paltry views this blog attains. But be assured, I will comply by any requirments posed on me. Thanks for your interest in “A Bibliophile’s Reverie.

Additionally, thanks to Book Expo America for providing me with an actual copy of this novel. This fact does not interfere with the quality and honesty of the above review. Rest assure, Fantastyfreak shares his honest, unbowderlized feelings about any books covered on this blog

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