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I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
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I Am Not a Serial Killer (2009)

by Dan Wells

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1,0731027,788 (3.65)84
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Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
“I made my decision. It was time to tear down the wall, to throw away all the rules I’d created for myself. It was time to let the monster out. I got back on my bike and rode home, tearing down my rules as I went. Brick by brick, the wall came down, and the monster stretched its legs, flexed its claws, licked its lips. Tomorrow, we would hunt.”

Teenager John Wayne Cleaver has been obsessed with serial killers since he was seven, and has diagnosed himself with psychopathic tendencies. When the book starts he’s already been in trouble at school for studying psychopaths and scaring his teachers, sending him into therapy.

John’s character is a great narrator for this story. The reader sees into the mind of someone who is detached from humanity (sociopath) and can not feel for them, but still knows what is right and wrong. This first installment of the series is a bigger internal struggle for John then it is an external one; controlling his monster while another runs free.

There’s a lot of dark humor, but not morbidly so. We are talking about a teenage-psycho living in a mortuary after all, so there’s plenty of one-liners about death, dying and dead bodies to go around; perfect for those who like dry humor.

The story does go a little slow at some points, but it’s not a deal breaker considering the narrator is a sociopath. At points it’s more like you start to get a feel of John’s obsessions the more repetitive he becomes on the longer he lingers on a certain subject, and even though you might be interested in something else he couldn’t care less about it; so in the end you’re stuck with him and his thoughts.

The story also takes a supernatural turn. Some hate it, some love it. It really depends on the reader’s preferences, but the story still keeps the psychological aspects that it started with so I didn’t mind the turn and found myself intrigued by how the new development would effect John.

It’s an easy and quick read, and well written for the strange point of view. It might take a little time getting into the story due to the slowness and lack of emotions from the main character, but once you figure out that’s part of the story it’s easy to get yourself in to the character yourself.

Overall I recommend this to fans of phycological thrillers, mystery, and paranormal novels alike. There’s a little something for everybody in the mix! ( )
  ReadingBifrost | Oct 19, 2017 |
I've heard a lot about this book on the internet, and today I was in a bookstore, saw it on the shelf, and picked it up. BE VERY CAREFUL about that. I read chapter 1 while standing in the aisle, then I sat down and read chapters 2 and 3, and then I decided I'd better buy the thing so that I could take it to lunch with me. I read the entire book today.

This book is fantastic. It's gory, sure, but it's more than that. It's also got amazingly complex, relatable characters and a plot that will keep your fingernails at clinical length. Also contains excellent comparisons of mortuary supplies to food items.

If you like thrillers in which the characters behave like real people instead of cliche caricatures of people, you will love this book. If you like messed up main characters, you will also love this book. Myself, I am going to traipse back to the bookstore and buy the sequel, Mr. Monster, ASAP. ( )
  R.E.Stearns | Aug 15, 2017 |
I think my wife is a serial killer waiting to be unleashed on the world.

I had not heard of this novel but ran across a Powell’s Books author reading late last month by Dan Wells. I read a summary of his recent book and then scheduled appropriately to go and listen to him. Jenn went with me and whispered creepy serial killer/mass murderer stats in my ear.. it was disturbing how much she knew.. When Dan asked people to name 5 killers in order to win a t-shirt, she stayed quiet and named 14 under her breath. no one but the Author could compete with her, naming less than five, 2 of which Wells had used as examples……

please send the police after her FIRST if i ever drop off the radar (after she reads this, my stats will weigh against me.).. DO NOT enter our home, make sure to arrive with witnesses, and be careful if she offers you refreshments, it is a distraction tactic. Bring gelato if you plan on surviving..

so, the long –> short of it is that i bought a copy of I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER. Dan Wells scribbled his John Hancock into the cover and i went home.. I had some must reads already waiting that needed to be pushed through my brain machine before i could get to this.. How i waited nearly a month, i really do not know….. it was very, very good…

John Wayne Cleaver is a 15 year old boy in a small town. Overall he is a nice kid who just can’t find any connection to the people around him. he has only one friend and is a freak among his peers. He grew up in a family of morticians. He helps out around the house and business. John is an outcast because he firmly believes he will grow up to be a serial killer.

John does not WANT to be a serial killer, but he thinks that the universe has stacked the deck against him, starting with his name. His namesake is an actor who shares a name with a killer (c’mon pilgrim..). His father is Sam Cleaver, making him the Son of Sam. His last name is a tool for cutting meat.

Interestingly enough, the town John lives in has a new killer hanging around, killing people and leaving their bodies lying about with parts missing. John obsessively investigates the killer, attempting to determine his motives and methodologies. This is in part because of his interest in the subject matter, and in part because of his fear of joining the ranks.. the more he knows, the better prepared he will be.

This really was a great book. IANASK is a mild thriller, and a must read for anyone who has found themselves spending an afternoon reading through the Internet Crime Library or whiling away nights watching true crime shows on TV. Wells did a great job breaking down the mind of a killer and really leaves you mentally cheering for the 15 year old sociopath that is the main character. You know he could turn out to be a horrible person in a couple years, but hope for the best because really, his is just a great kid. classically misunderstood.

The book is portioned well, focusing on John’s internal struggle as much as his obsessions with finding and stopping the local killer.

It is a little gory in some spots, but not overly so.. of course, i could also be desensitized :).. ok, well, just assume that i am desensitized..

One of my favorite aspects of John Cleaver is that he has already identified character traits of his that make him fear for his future. He has created a series of rules that will help himself suppress these character traits. These rules are mandatory to keep himself from crossing over, they keep his darker side in check.. ignoring these rules and he threatens to unleash his darkness, self named “Mr. Monster”
Examples of his rules:
- To keep stalker qualities subdued, he avoids people for a full week if he finds he is taking too much interest in them. too many conversations and he cuts off contact. if he finds himself following them home, they get back burner’d.

- If he feels like doing bodily harm on someone, he should distract himself by being overly nice and saying nice things about them. Thinking and saying nice tings tends to push back the bad… you know the classic “Think Positive” motivational posters? He should have one tattooed on the back of his hand.

- He must hand out with Max, another outcast in his grade. having max as a friend makes him more normal. after all, sociopaths do not have friends, so having a friend combats his sociopathy.

The book is humorous and intense in all the right places.
If you pick this book up, let me know what you thought of the Halloween Dance chapter. It cracked me up enough that i read sections aloud to people who were uncomfortable with a large insistent bearded man enthusiastically reading aloud a book titled ‘I am not a serial killer’… don’t get why that would make people feel “off” but it apparently does :)

surprised that i still have a job considering the number of people who gave me uncomfortable looks on the elevator or in the break room.

This was book one in a trilogy, i am very interested to see how the characters in this series turn out. Mr Wells, Get to releasing the books.. NOW! if you need someone to read them in advance, i would gladly volunteer :) (hint hint)
( )
  JasonBrownPDX | Jun 12, 2017 |
As a long-time fan of writing excuses, a writing podcast that Dan Wells and three other authors make every week, I decided it was high-time I read some of what these people who I had been taking advice from for so long wrote. I bought the John Cleaver series by Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, and a short story collection by Mary Robinette Kowal. This is the first of those books I’ve read, and so far I am not disappointed.

*Spoilers Ahead*

I had a feeling I would like this book, as I have always found serial killers pretty interesting. I was still hesitant though, because I have been burned before, *cough* Dexter. Speaking of Dexter, a lot of people are making comparisons between those books and these books. As much as that offends me, I can’t deny that it’s an apt comparison—they’re both told in first-person and feature sociopathic protagonists, though John Cleaver isn’t a killer yet and Dexter is, and both series add a supernatural element to the mix. The difference is that when Dexter added that supernatural element it was in book three of the series, and neither of the previous two books foreshadowed it at all. Also, it was stupid. Very, very stupid. Book three of Dexter was probably the most disappointing book I have ever read, and it soured me on the entire series. Jeff Lindsay is either an idiot that got extremely lucky twice, or he just lost his freaking mind when he wrote the third book.

The supernatural twist in I Am Not a Serial Killer, on the other hand, comes roughly halfway through the book, and it’s explicitly foreshadowed twice even earlier than that. It’s a good twist. The kind of twist that you figure out right before it happens. It was expertly done, and I found myself wanting to give Wells a standing ovation.

So yeah, this book isn’t really a serial killer book. It’s a book about a kid who may or may not become a serial killer at some point. He lacks empathy, is attracted to dead things, and knows a lot about serial killers—more than anyone in his town—and because of that he recognizes that the murders that have been happening lately don’t fit the pattern of either regular murder or serial killings, and winds up witnessing something supernatural because of his undue curiosity. That, to me, is way more interesting than the non-supernatural alternatives that the story could have taken, and I actually really like serial killer stories, so that’s saying something.

Bottom line—if you didn’t dig the supernatural element in this book, it’s not the book’s fault, it’s just you. I like fantasy. I like supernatural stuff. If you’re the type of person who only reads crime/mystery/thriller novels and you didn’t know that this book was supernatural going in, I could see how it would disappoint, but it’s well done. ( )
  ForeverMasterless | Apr 23, 2017 |
This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot. wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge's Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge's Exalted Permission. Title: I am Not a Serial Killer Series: John Cleaver Author: Dan Wells Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars Genre: Paranormal Pages: 272 Format: Kindle Digital Edition Synopsis: John Cleaver is a 15 year old boy with an obsession about serial killers. He is intelligent and convinced that because he shares X number of traits with the profile of a serial killer that he'll become one. Then a serial killer visits his town and begins a spree. John is fascinated while at the same time desiring to find, and stop, this killer. Can John be Dexter Jr and turn his weakness into strength? My Thoughts: This was disturbing, don't think otherwise. While John might not have killed, he's already convinced that he will and we get a first rate journey into his thought processes. His mind is a very unpleasant place. Add in the fact that the serial killer turns out to be some kind of demon and this book was just a big bowl of disturbing covered in disturbing. Add in the fact that this is marketed and targeted to young adults and the disturbing level goes even higher. " ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
"I liked I Am Not a Serial Killer. It wasn’t a perfect book but it was engaging and creepy while still managing to be sweet. "
added by r.orrison | editTor.com, Brit Mandelo (Apr 26, 2010)
 
Great pacing, a likable character, and a combination of horror and supernatural elements make this title in a new trilogy appealing.
added by Katya0133 | editLibrary Journal, Craig Shufelt (Apr 1, 2010)
 
[T]his deft mix of several genres features a completely believable teenage sociopath (with a heart of gold), dark humor, a riveting mystery and enough description of embalming to make any teen squeamish even if they won't admit it.
added by Katya0133 | editKirkus (Apr 1, 2010)
 
Wells does a good job entering the mind of his unlikely protagonist, but a surprising revelation about the Clayton killer's identity may turn off thriller readers who prefer not to mix genres.
added by Katya0133 | editPublishers Weekly (Feb 1, 2010)
 
gives a fascinating glimpse into the psyche of a fifteen year old boy on the verge of possibly becoming a serial killer. It delves into the human side of what it's like to have dark, murderous thoughts and how to keep them in check.
 
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Epigraph
I should have been a pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
- The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
Dedication
For Rob, who gave me the best incentive a little brother can give, he got published first.
First words
Mrs. Anderson was dead.

Nothing flashy, just old age—she went to bed one night and never woke up. They say it was a peaceful, dignified way to die, which I suppose is technically true, but the three days it took for someone to realize they hadn’t seen her in a while removed most of the dignity from the situation. Her daughter eventually dropped by to check on her and found her corpse three days rotted and stinking like roadkill. And the worst part isn’t the rotting, it’s the three days—three whole days before anyone cared enough to say, "Wait, where’s that old lady that lives down by the canal?" There’s not a lot of dignity in that.

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Tiger, tiger, burning bright / In the forests of the night / What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
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Book description
Fear the darkness within...

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.

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John Wayne Cheever keeps his obsession with serial killers in check by a set of rigid rules that he lives by, hoping to the prevent himself from committing murder, but when a body turns up behind a laundromat, John must confront a danger outside himself.… (more)

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