“Fear is a … it’s a weird thing, when you think about it. People are only afraid of other things, they’re never afraid of themselves.”
I know it’s partly my own fault I didn’t enjoy I Am Not A Serial Killer that much, because I had really high expectations before I started reading it. Those who follow my blog already know I’m a big fan of Barry Lyga‘s Jasper Dent series and I was hoping to find something similar with this John Cleaver series. I guess I was wrong. Dan Wells‘ serial killer read has a supernatural/demon twist I wasn’t expecting and I’m not sure I could actually appreciate it. The main character John Cleaver is a seriously disturbed teenage sociopath who is both obsessed with serial killers and trying not to turn into one himself. His mother also works in a mortuary and he usually helps her prep the bodies… That sure sounds like an potentially interesting character, but I just couldn’t connect to him in the way I connected to Jasper Dent. Still, I Am Not A Serial Killer has a fast pace, lots of facts about serial killers and a prose that is easy to read, making me pretty much a happy camper up until the point Dan Wells decided to go supernatural on me. I won’t go into details because of spoilers, but let’s just say I probably would have enjoyed this book way better if it had been just an ‘ordinary’ serial killer.
John Cleaver has been spending his whole life pretending to be normal, but he is not sure how long he can keep the monster inside him locked up. He is obsessed by serial killers and afraid he will turn into one himself… To prevent that, he lives by strict rules to keep himself under control. He helps his mother at the mortuary and has a hard time considering dead bodies as anything other than things. He has been diagnosed with sociopathy and doesn’t feel any empathy… It turns out that might just come in handy as a serial killer seems to have chosen the small town John lives in to do his killing. John is determined he is the only one that can stop the killer… But will it be safe to set free the monster inside him?
I don’t think that I Am Not A Serial Killer was that bad, but I do think it was a mistake to throw in the supernatural element into the story. The beginning of the story looked really promising even though I couldn’t really connect to the main character, but as soon as the story went supernatural I actually said WTF out loud. It might be original, but it wasn’t the story I was looking for and it just doesn’t go with the whole serial killer information overload and mortuary scenes the story starts with… Those make you expect a ‘normal’ thriller/crime story, not this demon/serial killer hybrid. I guess that if you start reading it knowing to expect the supernatural, you will probably enjoy this Dan Wells read a whole lot better though.