The title of this book was enough to draw me in- and the Goodreads description made me want to pick up this book and read it instantly. ‘I Am Not A Serial Killer‘ by Dan Wells was nothing like i expected.
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.
This book was nothing like i expected-plot wise, character wise and even the writing was not what i was anticipating. The main character is John Wayne Cleaver, a teenager that struggles to act and behave like a ‘normal person.’ He works with his mother, preparing bodies for burial and assisting with the embalming process at their ‘funeral home’. John also has an intense fascination with serial killers-reading biographies, watching documentaries and doing school projects on them. While he does have an ‘obsession’ with serial killers, it is more of a curiosity and a desire to understand their motives and what drives their actions as opposed to idolisation of their gruesome characters. John uses them as a way to understand his own thoughts and nature and work out ways to avoid becoming like them.
Firstly i did not expect the main character to be a teenager, in fact i was anticipating him to be an adult. When reading the description there is no indication of the age of John and i was surprised when i read the first couple of pages to learn that he is still in High School. This makes his battle with his inner demons, strange personality and his feeling of complete isolation very impactful At such a young age he realises that he is not normal and tries to be normal-putting in place rules to help him control the ‘monster’ like complimenting people he is angered by them or avoiding someone if he feels like what could be simple curiosity in their actions might develop into something more serious akin to stalking.
I also did not expect the supernatural aspect to the book, however i very much enjoyed its addition to the story. There is so much more that can be explored regarding the paranormal in the world and in the life of John in future books and i eagerly await to read them in the near future.
Johns growth as a character is immense as he comes to terms with who he is and the ‘monster’ inside of he. While he initially believes there is nothing good inside of him and that he cannot feel, sometimes shutting out relationships with his family and friends, he realises that that may not be the case, and the final scene with his mother is very touching. He also has a very strong sense of morality, what is right and wrong or good and evil, which is explored as he works to stop the serial killer that is targeting innocent people in the town.
‘I Am Not A Serial Killer’ is a very interesting book with both psychological and supernatural aspects to it, though it still is a YA book. John is an unusual protagonist and i loved the way Wells explored his character and the interesting way he develops and comes to terms with his personality. While it was not what i was expecting i enjoyed it immensely .