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StaceyHH

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I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver Books) - Dan Wells *** Spoilers in second half of this review ***I had to sleep on this before reviewing, having finished it very late in a compulsive reading session, and feeling vaguely disappointed in the story. There really isn't a good way to discuss my observations without disclosing some major plot spoilers, potential readers be warned. First, it should be said, I really enjoyed the writing style. Wells handles language well, and creates a sense of urgency in getting to the next page... next chapter... the end. I really wanted to find out what happened to his character - a sociopathic teenager (John.) He did a good job (mostly) of not trying to make a sympathetic character out of John, whose motivations in the story are largely a result of his compulsions, his fascination with death, killing and serial killer pathology/psychology. There were only a couple of missteps in the entire novel, where John reacts with "normal" emotion, rather than in keeping with sociopathology. I thought this aspect of the novel (a primary aspect, to be sure,) was extremely well done. *spoilers start here* Dustjacket description states that a real serial killer comes to John's town. He picks up on this due to his fascination with historical SKs, whom he studies partly because he believes this will help him avoid behaviors that would lead him to becoming a SK. (Great twist!) Where the story started to get questionable for me is upon John's discovery that the SK in his town is of supernatural origin. It's no ordinary man, but a demon. From that time on, he is trying to figure out how to destroy the demon. I understand that having the SK be non-human gave John permission to let his inner monster out, because he wouldn't be targeting a human. It also allows the SK to survive the encounter with police. (The book would have been over at the 40% mark when John figures out his identity otherwise.) There are other elements in the story that were made instantly possible as soon as the SK is non-human, including the denouement and beginnings of reconciliation with his mother. But...I should much rather have seen the villain continue to be human, and have further development of the story of a sociopathic boy learning to control his inner demons. This was the compelling piece of the novel, and the introduction of the supernatural felt a little bit like a cheap trick. One of the emotional/sociopathological missteps was the handling of his reaction to the murder of his therapist. He's surprisingly non-reactive. Although he likely would not have had an emotional attachment to the man, it seems he should have had at least a possessive attachment to him, and this bothered me a bit to see it treated so incidentally. John knows that his pursuit of the SK has placed at least 3 people directly in the path of the demon, and even though two of the victims come off as an "oops" from John's perspective (in keeping with his pathology,) I would like to have seen a little bit more development of his reaction to the murder of his therapist.Yes, it worked, but it wasn't the novel I was hoping to read. In spite of that, it was an entertaining story, and I really liked the writing style.