Monday, November 29, 2010

Just Read: I am not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

This is a book that picked me. Honestly.

I was wondering around Borders the other night, while waiting for a friend to be done with a job interview, and while milling around in the thriller section, I caught a book out of the corner of my eye.  When I read the title, I knew I was going to buy it, because frankly, in my mind, if it has serial killer it has to be good.  But I technically didn't judge the book by it's cover, because I did read the back and the first couple pages, and it seemed like it would be pretty cool, so I decided hell, I'll give it a try.

And to me, finding a new author to start reading is just about as good as sex.

I was immediately drawn into John Wayne Cleaver, the book's protagonist and I have to admit that I was very impressed about all the little compartments that Well's wove into the plot to make the character more appealing and frightening at the same time.  For instance, the child had an absent father, and lived with his mother who happened to run a mortuary, and to be blunt, the kid just couldn't get enough of dead bodies.  They put him at piece.  Then, take into consideration that the child was obsessed with serial killers, tortured animals at a young age, still wet the bed, and had a bad case of pyromania  --- well, we have the three main red flags are detecting a sociopath ladies and gentlemen! Plus Wells was careful to point out that our protagonist's name shared a striking resemblance to John Wayne Gacy, and that his last name is a renown murder weapon.  To me, it sounded like fate wanted John to be a serial killer, and it turned out...that's what John thought too.

I really like how John gave himself rules to follow so his rage and thoughts would never get out of control.  For instance, if he found himself staring at someone for too long, he would force himself to avoid that person for a week.  Same when it someone was picking on him or making him angry - he forced himself to give them a compliment so he wouldn't rip out their spleen; I liked the way his mind worked...it was like learning the boundaries in the mind of a killer. Very intriguing.  Plus add the fact that there was a serial killer prowling around his town, taking victims on a regular basis, and you know that John had to be in his glory.

Now I was sold on the plot from very early on in the novel, but when I figured out that there was a supernatural/ occult essence to the serial killer, I won't deny that I was greatly disappointed.  Where I wanted this book to go, and where Wells decided to take it were two completely different paths...yet while I didn't get the story I wanted, I still enjoyed reading his.  Plus, I got to learn a lot more about how the mind of a sociopath/killer worked, which is always interesting to one like myself.

Without giving away a lot of the book, there was one scene that I don't think I'll be ever to forget. At one point in the climax, John knows that he has to put someone in danger in order to lure in the killer, and as he is in the process of wounding the victim... he gets nervous because he can't stop.  He keeps fantasizing about their death, and the ways that he would do it, and to me, it really showed a stark contrast between the boy and the monster within; not that there were two personalities, but rather a buried side to him that he fought so hard to keep inside.  It was terribly frightening to see someone, especially a child, react to violence in that way.

Overall, I would say give it a shot. It's a good read.