Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Release Date: March 30, 2010
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Young Adult, Horror
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.
I Am Not A Serial Killer is the first installment in Dan Wells John Cleaver series. This is a series which started out as a trilogy, but has since grown to become a series. The books features John Wayne Cleaver who is obsessed with serial killers. At 15, he can name, by memory, the most devastating serial killers in US history. His obsession has landed him with a therapist, and major indicators are that one day soon, he too will join the long list of sociopathic killers who torment the innocents of society.
In the meanwhile, John has kept a wall up so that the "monster" inside of him doesn't raise its ugly head. But, after the so called Clayton Killer starts leaving bodies behind, and they show up at the mortuary run by his mother, and Aunt, John becomes intent on bringing the killer into the light of day. At the core of this book is a moody teenager who lives in a small town with his mother, Aunt Margaret and older sister Laura. He doesn't have many friends, and the one that he does have, Max, doesn't get the obsession John has for serial killers. In fact, it kind of creeps him out. But, as with other books that involve kids who are either children of serial killers, or those who work hard to track them down, John is the perfect amateur sleuth to track down the killer, and bring him to justice.
What makes this book so different, is that John isn't just a bystander in the mortuary, he actually works hard to understand the intricacies of the job, and feels right at home working alongside his peers. This is also the darkest part of the story due to the descriptions that Wells offers to readers. Perhaps that is why John doesn't have any long standing friendships, or why he is so afraid of getting close to the girl, Brooke Watson, that may like him. John is absolutely aware of his weaknesses, and is able to tell once he has pushed the envelop too far. It is that awareness, that will allow me to continue deeper into this series to see what happens next.
I started this series because I Am Not A Serial Killer is now a motion picture staring Christopher Lloyd, Laura Fisher, and Max Records as John Wayne Cleaver. One could say that if you are a fan of hit TV series Dexter, Fargo, or Six Feet Under, then you will love this book. Since I have not yet seen the movie, I'll reserve judgment until I do.