I Am Not a Serial Killer: a Book Review

I Am Not a Serial Killer

Written by Dan Wells

Dan Wells is a horror writer of growing renown. His first book: I Am Not a Serial Killer was already a resounding success throughout Europe and has already been made into a movie. This first book of his is a fascinating story told from a seldom seen perspective.

John Wayne Cleaver is a 15-year-old boy that lives with his mother above the mortuary where she works. John believes that he is fated to become a serial killer, a conviction that is only reinforced when he is diagnosed as a sociopath. In order to avoid his perceived fate, John has developed a series of rules that he follows to achieve the appearance of normalcy. When people in his small town begin being murdered, it becomes clear that another serial killer is on the loose. The only way John can protect the people of his town is to break his rules and risk becoming what he fears.

There’s the pitch. Let’s move on to some of my favorite parts

John Wayne Cleaver: My Favorite Sociopath

sociopath photo

Here’s the thing about sociopaths– they aren’t insane.

People sometimes to paint them as nut-jobs, but they really aren’t. What it really comes down to is an inability to understand emotions and empathize with those around them. This tends to cause problems, because our empathy is what makes other human beings more than just talking, bleeding teddy bears. It can be difficult for sociopaths to see other human beings as more than just objects. In fact, there is one point where John threatens another character, saying he’s just like a cardboard box. That may not sound creepy, but it’s all in the delivery. (Heh. Mail pun.)

What truly amazed me was how much Dan was able to make me connect with a character clinically lacking in empathy. It was weird, really. It was almost like he was writing this book for me. To me. Like he understood me, my thoughts, and my struggles not– *stares blankly into the distance for several long seconds*

What? Don’t look at me like that. It’s just a book. Relax.

Lots of people are drawn in by his dry, morbid sense of humor, but, while I thought it was funny, that’s not what grabbed me. After looking closer. I think it was his struggle that got to me. John genuinely wants to be a good person. He doesn’t want to become like the other killers he studies and obsesses over. He doesn’t want hurt people, but at the same time there is nothing he wants more.

That really speaks to me on a personal level. The “internal-struggle” bit, not the “fight-the-urge-to-stalk-hunt-and-torture-my-neighbor” bit.

Why You Should Read This Book?

Lots of reasons. Due to the oddities that can occur in the publishing world, this book was actually printed overseas before hitting shelves here in the US. And it was a hit. Like, a major hit. I Am Not a Serial Killer went through four prints in Germany before touching down in the states. To be clear, many books don’t make it past a single printing. So, yeah, that’s a lot of sales.

Why’s that matter? Umm, Reading it should make you feel cultured and multinational… I guess. Whatever, it’s awesome.

If you like tense story-lines and fascinating, realistic characters; this book is a great choice. In someone else’s hands, a character like John would be a villain that we follow more from morbid fascination than any interest in the character itself. As it stands, when the tension built to a tremulous high, I waited with baited breath, hoping John would make it through with his sanity intact.

Not a Serial Killer Spoilers
Photo by nugrohoaw
*Minor Spoilers*

While the very nature of this book means it is not suitable for all audiences, this was a fascinating journey from a perspective I have never before experienced. I think it is important to mention the book does contain supernatural elements. I bring this up because many of the negative reviews for this book center on on this very fact. Some people want monsters and demons in their stories and others don’t. I happen to be of the type that does. The choice is yours.

*Spoiler Over*

Reading this book was a wonderful experience and I look forward to telling you about the rest of the books in the series. Thanks for stopping by. Please, leave a comment below and tell me what you thought of I Am Not a Serial Killer. Have a book you want reviewed, or a topic you want to discuss, jet let me know below or through my Contact PageAnd if you don’t, no worries. I’ll be seeing you soon. Really soon… at night… through your kitchen window… when you’re all alone.

*Sits completely motionless, staring at the vein pulsing in your neck until you run away.*


One Response

  1. […] instructors, Dan Wells, told us that his first book I Am Not a Serial Killer (which I reviewed previously) was being made into a movie. In fact, it had already been completed and we, the members of the […]

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