Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Review: Debut novel by Dan wells about someone who claims he does not go about bumping people off

Author: Dan Wells
Publisher: Headline
ISBN: 9780755348817
This edition published: July, 2009
$16.99 (Aus)

YA Novel

Most books are easy to review. You give a rundown of the plot and then share your thoughts. I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER is not that simple because to tell you much about the plot would be to give away twists that would spoil it for you.

John is a fifteen year old sociopath. His mother and aunt own one of the town mortuaries. John is obsessed with serial killers but is afraid that one day he may become one himself. In order to keep “the monster in the wall” John has set up an elaborate set of rules to live by. If a person interests him he will follow them around, but only for a week; to do so any longer would be dangerous.

John wants to please his mother and be a “normal” person and he does not want to do any harm, but the monster in the wall makes it difficult. He discovers he’s not the only “monster” in town when the mutilated corpses of some of the townsfolk begin to appear. In order to understand the killer and perhaps gain greater insights into himself, John starts investigating. What he discovers is something far more strange and chilling than he could ever imagine. The dilemma John finds himself facing is should he unleash the monster within to stop the killing or will the monster in him become worse than the one currently causing such mayhem?

I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER is not a book that can be easily put into a category. Initially the reader could be forgiven for feeling that the subtitle of this book might well be Dexter: The Early Years, because there are similarities. Young Dexter as conceived by Stephen King might be more to the point. However you describe it, first-time author, Dan Wells has come up with a novel idea (if you’ll pardon the appalling pun). In John he has created a character that will find the reader with conflicting emotions at every turn.

In researching I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER prior to writing this review I found it was listed in a number of places as a Young Adult novel. I think the adolescent voice of John and his desperate efforts to appear “normal” and fit in with society will resonate with teenagers. I can imagine many parents may have a problem with the violence in the book. I have two sons who are both now in their mid 20’s. Would I have allowed my sons to read this book when they were teens? Yes, without hesitation. The other themes in the book such as the need to fit in with perceived norms of society, facing moral dilemmas, loss and grief, family and relationships are far more important. Violence is part of the human condition. We see it every day in the media. We can protect our kids to some degree but we cannot lock them away from such things and pretend they don’t happen.

Dan Wells has a Bachelors in English from Brigham Young University where he was the editor at The Leading Edge Magazine. He now runs

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