I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver Books) - Dan Wells I have to say that this book was excellent, practically Five Star worthy, for the first hundred pages. Then... uh. You kinda got hit with a "WTF?! WTF did I just READ?!" moment out of the clear BLUE. It all starts out kinda like:



And you don't pay it any attention, like, "Yeah right~ Whatever~" But then you're like:

LALALALALA WALKING WALKING--


BAM. Hits you.

And at first you're like:



No, no~ Can't be!

*Reads a little more*



"............DA FAK AM I READING?!!?!?!!?!!??!"


After that point, I had to put the book down for the night and just come to grips with the RANDOM-AS-HELL turn that the story took. Did it take away from the initial connection I felt the book made with me, writing in the well-researched and legitimate grooves of a serial killer's mind? Yeah, yeah it did. Some people mentioned in their reviews that after that point in the book, they couldn't get back into the story. And honestly, I don't blame them. It came so far out of left field that I doubt anyone in the entire planet could have expected it or saw it coming. And the problem is that this book was written strictly realistically up until that point. Then when that curve ball came flying, it really hit you full tilt in the face.

Still, it's not my policy to put down a book (regardless what twists or turns it's taken) when I've started it. So I read on and to the end, and know what? It's not a half-bad story. It's got some really strange but enjoyable features. I think the problem comes that when you write a story and it seems like an entirely realistic world setting, just like any of our everyday lives, that when you throw in a twist like this, it's so unnatural that many people have a hard time coming to grip with the change in course. You're thinking on one level, and then you're forced to think on a completely different one.

It's like reading a strict history textbook, littered with facts and timelines and every historical detail under the sun, and then randomly coming to a sentence that says, "This was why the unicorns of Afghanistan were unable to survive the desert environments."

It's like: *Cricket... cricket... cricket...* "...what? o_O"

It just doesn't FIT. When you read romance, you expect romance. When you read sci-fi, you expect sci-fi. When you read a psychological thriller, you expect a psychological thriller. And trust me, this story still delivered on that part. I, and countless other readers, just weren't expecting the "SURPRISE! NOT ALL REALISTIC AFTER ALL~!" addition to the story. It didn't just break the flow and pacing of the story. It ground you to a full HALT in your tracks, and you literally had to stand there gaping for a good few minutes before you got the fact that this craaaaazy thing you just read was being written SERIOUSLY. And it was EXPECTED that you, as the reader, were SUPPOSED to take it seriously.


Now is the author a bad writer? Far from it. I think his dialogue, vocabulary, flow and pacing are all great. In fact, that's the trying thing. This is clearly a talented author. He can write realistic fiction, he can write psychological thrillers, and he can write supernatural or directly fictional stories as well and make them remarkable. He just needs to learn how to balance out the composure between them. He needs to learn to introduce surprises without making them seem like a gunshot to the chest or a slap to the face.


I was able to find a lot of meaning and delight in both the antagonist and protagonist of this story. I connected to them both, I enjoyed both their stories, and though the blend was difficult, I was able to get through the book and still find myself invested at the end, and thinking about what unfolded upon these pages. I am still altered by That, but I don't feel it was so terrible a blow that you couldn't enjoy the book for itself.


On another note, I want to take a moment to praise the author. This is his first book, and he has some very obvious talent in the writing field. He has things to learn yet, but that's fine. He'll learn with time and experience. One thing that caught my attention however, and what you might notice from my status updates if you read them, is that the psychological aspect of the book resonated with me very strongly. It's not everyday that I read books about big psychological issues--disorders of various sorts specifically--but as someone who invested years of study and personal interest into psychology, the chance to read a book that delved deeply into antisocial personality disorder was delightful. It's a difficult disorder to understand, but this book.

Hnnnng. This book!

It did an incredible job of writing from the point of view of someone who has the disorder. And yes, it is a disorder that is usually the requisite for serial killers. Most suffer from this disorder. That's only half the fascination though. The authenticity of the perspective that Dan Wells brought out in this book is astounding. He knows what he's talking about when he writes from the point of view of a character who has this disorder. It's perfect, down to the smallest detail, and it's beautiful. Seeing a psychological disorder portrayed so accurately is so difficult to find. People usually stick to stereotypes or attempt to hype up the issues. Dan Wells did nothing of the sort. He made his main character believable. And that's an impressive act.


For all that this book was disheveled by the writer's choice of plot twist, it's still a book that is interesting and well-done. I don't feel people should judge it on plot twist alone, even though that played a huge factor in this book. Without it, the book is still a well-built story and has deep, engaging characters. The part that was lacking was the execution in the twisting point.

I'm at a bit of a crossroads. I feel that all the factors of the book are worth a four-star rating. However I'm torn because the execution of That tells me to rate it only three stars. Truthfully, for all that I feel it was beautifully done, my gut is what I'm going to follow. It could very well have been a four-star rating for me, once the book was said and done. But the pacing was never quite right after That happened. And I'm sorry to say that, since this book and idea had and still has a lot of potential. Either way, my gut says three stars, and I have to go with my gut on this one.


Recommendation for Reading: I would say library this one. Some die-hards might find it worthwhile to add to their own library afterwards, but my advice is not to buy it on a whim. Feel free, by all means, to read it on a whim. I just know from this experience that you may hate this book and feel it ripped you off if you buy it before you know what you're in for.

As for a personal note, this book is part of a trilogy. And, believe it or not, I would like to read the rest of it. In fact, I'm planning on it. So, if you want to hear about how the others turn out, I'll make sure to let you all know when the time comes. Till then~! Seeya in the next review! Enjoy reading!