Saturday, April 17, 2010

"I Am Not A Serial Killer" by Dan Wells

Okay, I'm way behind on book reviews. Here's another one from a few weeks ago:

I do not like horror: books or movies. However, I'd been hearing a lot about I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells, plus it was one of the speculative fiction nominees for a Whitney award. I decided to bite the bullet and give it a try. I usually don't do well with horror. When I was a kid, I couldn't even handle 'Leave it to Beaver' because I just knew Beav would do something stupid. I would scream at the TV, "Don't do it Beav!" But Beav would do it anyway. So, if that stresses me out, horror things do it even more.

I didn't think of counting up violence and gore incidents until I was halfway through, but Serial Killer did have some gory stuff in it. I'd guess that I would rate it around 150 for violence and gore. Maybe another 10 to 15 for language, since there was some minor swearing in it. Other than that, it was pretty clean (no sex or drugs). It does go into some detail on how to do an embalming, which made me a little squeamish. What bothered me the most were a couple of scenes where the main character, John Cleaver, wrestled with the temptation of doing violence to someone.

That said, I had a hard time putting this book down. It was very well written. There was an outer struggle of John versus what he first thinks is a serial killer but later finds out is a demon. In the process of his investigation, though, an inner struggle emerges between him and what he calls 'Mr. Monster'. John fears that he may be turning into a serial killer himself and struggles with temptations of violence. These conflicts kept the book moving forward and my interest piqued.

My recommendation? It's a great read, but if you don't like gory scenes and psychological struggles, it probably isn't for you. If you like action, mystery, or a good old fashioned 'David versus Goliath' story, then you'll like it. I wouldn't recommend it for younger teens, but for older teens and up, as long as they know what they are getting into, it will be fine. Unless they stress out while watching 'Leave it to Beaver', then they might want to reconsider.

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