21 April, 2011

Review - I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

I Am Not A Serial Killer [US] [UK] is the first book in the John Wayne Cleaver trilogy and it is insane, no joke, clinically insane.

What are the three things 95% of serial killers have in common? Bed-wetting, pyromania, and animal cruelty...and John has all three.

The story is told in first person by John Wayne Cleaver, who recently entered high school...and also happens to be a sociopath. Not only is he obsessed with serial killers, but he has his own monsters to contend with. He also has no problem with dead bodies as his family owns a mortuary and they live just above it.

Suddenly, a string of murders begin showing up in the small community of Clayton County and as John explains it to his "friend" Max, it's like when you're favorite comic book author shows up in town, he's almost elated. And who better to stop a sociopath than another sociopath right?

I never thought I'd be laughing to myself this much over such a creepy subject, but I Am Not a Serial Killer is told with a proper blend of seriousness and plenty of jokes...about killing and whatnot. Creepy/funny = Freepy?

For example:

"People always think it's creepy to live over a mortuary, but it's really just like any other house. Sure, we have dead bodies in the basement, but we also have a chapel, so it balances out. Right?"

There are plenty of other one-liners and puns, I guess it's amazing what you'll laugh at. :)

I Am Not A Serial Killer is also amazingly well researched not only in terms of serial killer references, but also in terms of a very realistic look into the mind of a possible serial killer, who also happened to be extremely likable. But I guess that's how serial killers tend to be, they can be extremely likable people, think Ted Bundy I guess.

What a surprisingly good book. The pacing was great, the plotting tight, and John Wayne Cleaver is a great, if not utterly bizarre, kid with whom to enjoy the ride. Seriously, this was one of the weirdest books I've ever read, let alone enjoyed this much. I could not stop reading it.

Why Read I Am Not A Serial Killer?

Even though my wife looked at me in a very strange way when she saw I was reading this, and your significant other probably will too, I Am Not A Serial Killer is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

4.5 out of 5 Stars


logankstewart said...

I've wanted to read this since I heard Sanderson and Wells talking about it on one of their "Writing Excuses" episodes. It looks like the library has it. Great review.

Bryce L. said...

Thanks Logan, it's really quick too - only 270 pages. I was hearing that the final volume in the trilogy is supposed to be really good, so I figured I might as well pick this up. So glad I did.

RedEyedGhost said...

I wasn't a fan of this one because it didn't seem to know what it wanted to be, so it was half straight up crime fiction and half urban fantasy. The bad part is that neither half came remotely close to realizing its potential. Wells began the book by dropping some seriously interesting knowledge on serial killers, but then threw almost all of that out the window by introducing the supernatural component (which is honestly why I bought the book). The supernatural aspect was rather mundane, and there was little to no information on what the supernatural being is.

I don't think I be reading any further in this series.

Ryan said...

I saw this book in the bookstore awhile back and thought it looked interesting. Your review only makes me more interested in it. Looks like I'm adding another book to my "books I wanna read" list. Thanks for the review!

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Bryce L. said...

@RedEyed - I agree that I was left a bit wanting with the supernatural aspect, but I really enjoyed this so much, it didn't bother me too much. I blazed through this book and it's been a while since I've been that enthralled in a novel.

Probably helped that The Unremembered was a bit difficult to get through.

I'm hoping the supernatural parts are better developed in the next two

@Ryan - Yes, do it. I really enjoyed it, as you can tell. I wanted to ditch classes for it. Actually I think I did actually ditch one class for it.

@ndone said...

i really loved this book, it's so funny and interesting... but i have the 2nd one on my shelf for months now and i can't bring myself to read it... i just read some pages and put it away. but i think i will give it a try now and hope it'as good as the first!
i really like the tiger-poem by blake, that's referred to several times...

Bryce L. said...

@ @ndone - Word on the street, they keep getting better and the third and final book is supposed to really be great.

Really looking forward to the rest of these although I've promised I'm waiting until after my finals.

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