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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 6 July 2009
As soon as I read the blurb for this book, I knew I just had to read it. When I finally got the chance to sit down and got started, I was hooked instantly. This is one seriously awesome book. I absolutely loved it!

John Cleaver is a teenager who helps his mother and aunt out in their mortuary. He's also fascinated by serial killers and pretty much knows every detail documented about most of them. He's not your average boy, that's for sure. Death fascinates him. Liking a girl scares him. Luckily for him, he's in therapy and his doctor is helping him to (at least) appear to be normal. I really enjoyed his visits with Dr Neblin.

When he discovers that an actual demon is killing people in his town and collecting body parts, John sets out on a personal investigation to find out who it is. He's finally got his own serial killer to dissect. But what he stumbles into is certainly not what he expected.

'I Am Not A Serial Killer' is an addictive book that sucks you in from the very first word and keeps you turning every page. Actually, I couldn't wait to get back to it. It's why I read it so quickly and enjoyed every second of it. This is one unique look into the mind of a very dark individual who struggles to stay on the right path every single day. It's got a little bit of everything, and I really liked the dark humour.

Who would've thought that a book starring a sociopathic teenage boy with very violent tendencies would turn out to be so much fun? Well, it is. For all his strangeness, I found John to be a great character that I would love to spend more time with in the future.
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on 13 March 2009
Some books are exciting. Some books are intriguing. Some are exhilarating, others moving, and still others deeply disturbing. I've rarely found a book that fit all of these descriptions at once, and never have I read one that mixes each emotion together as thoroughly as I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER.

While reading this novel, I felt like I did when I first discovered Lovecraft. The beauty of the prose, mixed with the depth of characterization, gave the haunting, first person narrative a human touch that I don't always discover in horror novels. Yet I savor it when I do, for the finest horror is the most human of all genres.

It's difficult to tie down I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER. On one hand, it's a character study that inspects the mind of a teenage sociopath. On the other, it's an old fashioned murder mystery with a supernatural edge. Neither of those concepts convey the wit of the prose or the brilliance of the story's great dilemma. Which is more alien? The monster with the heart of a man or the man with the heart of a monster?

In short, I can only say this: Read the book. Regardless of your age or your genre preferences, you will find this story both profound and enthralling.

Brandon Sanderson
New York Times Bestselling Author
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I'm not going to lie and say that everyone will like this book, because they won't. It's complex, gruesome and frightening, yet brilliant and bold.

John Wayne Cleaver (great name!) is a fifteen year old sociopath, who helps out in his family's mortuary and is obsessed with serial killers. He has very little emotion or empathy, and frequently has to stop himself from losing control of his inner demon.

John's voice is my favourite part of the whole book; I love it. It's dark and satirical, but spotted with humour and sarcasm. His blunt thoughts and desires are written with such simplicity that you can't help but like this character, even though I'm not entirely sure you should. I sympathised with John, who is a boy fighting with himself to refrain from killing people. Did I expect to sympathise with him? No, I didn't. His loneliness and alienation from his peers and family will be something that a lot of people will relate to, and it's an aspect of his character that humanises him, whether he thinks it does or not.

To write about this subject in a YA novel is quite brave, as it won't appeal to a lot of readers. Some things are just too real for people to read about, and serial killing undoubtedly falls into that category. I Am Not A Serial Killer is quite gory at times, and describes in great detail what happens behind the closed doors of a mortuary. I now know more about embalming than I ever thought I would!

The plot is clever, with quite a few unexpected twists and turns. It almost reads like a crime novel, especially with the inclusion of John's personal hunt for the Clayton Killer terrorising his town. The conclusion is satisfying and intriguing, and sets up the sequel nicely. I can't wait to find out if John can save himself from himself, along with the lengths he'll go to to achieve this. The next book will certainly be an interesting read!

Oh, and if you're a fan of the show Dexter, you should definitely read this book. I think you'd love it!
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on 29 June 2014
John is a fifteen year old sociopath who has to battle a local demon to save his community.

Things I liked:

- Well written and very easy to read

- Really dark and quite explicit when describing the embalming process

- More than one layer to this story, leaves you wondering if John was telling the whole story or if he was delusional. Very interesting and gets you thinking about the way a sociopath thinks. The real story is about John's battle with his own impulses, and you know eventually he is going to lose.

Reservations- very few!

- I've seen this called YA but it is not, it's far too dark and gory in my opinion. I wouldn't call it urban fantasy either; to m, it's a story about the mind of a sociopath.

- The beginning just began to be a bit repetitive when John was talking about what it was like to be a sociopath and giving information about serials killers. Luckily the rest of the plot kicked in just before it got annoying.

Summary: This is a dark book, not a "nice" book, but very interesting. Highly recommended.
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on 14 March 2009
No matter what your normal preferences are for books, this is one that'll capture your interest.

Even if you don't like feeling queasy, you'll be enthralled as the main character, John Wayne Cleaver, helps with the human embalming. Even if you don't like mysteries, you'll be gripping the pages as John follows the trail of a supernatural killer. Even if you don't like dark fantasy, you'll find yourself pondering the soul of a fanged, razor-clawed demon, who at times is more human than his prey. And even if you don't like thrillers, you'll keep holding on to the character of John, who offers sincere vulnerability while managing to terrify you with what he could become.

This book defies many genre boundaries, which leads to a rather generic-sounding-but-completely-accurate recommendation of: "If you're interested in what's fascinating, you'll love this."
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on 2 March 2015
Couldn't put it down!
I am tired of reading books with all the same themes,this was just fab!
I didn't mind about the supernatural twist,who cares! It was a good read,kept me engaged,No spelling or grammar mistakes,the story flowed well.
I am definitely buying the next two as well, to take on holiday.
Well done, Dan Wells.
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on 19 March 2009
I am Not a Serial Killer

In this debut novel by Dan Wells, there are moments that will give you a sense of horror, discovery, joy, and even humor. When you put all of these characteristics together in one novel, and blend them around and with a compelling character (John Wayne Cleaver), you get one of the most enjoyable novels I have read over the past two decades.

As I read I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, I found myself disturbingly amused and pleasantly disturbed all at once. Thankfully, Dan Wells strays from the stereotypical boundaries that tend to hamper the lesser novels written in the horror and mystery genres, and he gives us a surprising character to identify with - a fifteen-year-old who knows he has all the indicators of becoming a serial killer.

I used to manage a Waldenbooks/Borders Books, and I find that I am more than a little sad that I no longer am in that position because I would be thrilled to recommend I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER to every person that walked into my store.

And for you readers out there let me clue you in on a bit of good news: having read the follow-up novels already, they get even better!
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on 29 December 2014
Well written and witty brings to life the dichotomy of both john as awkward lonely boy and john the monster focusing on ways to let the monster live while keeping everyone safe. Trying to be good and 'faking it till making it' in the empathy stakes. Would happily recommend this to others
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on 2 April 2014
I'm not a great fan of teen horror but hear that a lot of it is read by adults and have felt there must be some merit to it. I've never read a Harry Potter book, nor seen the films. Twilight has passed me by too. But I read this (quite by accident as it was on a top ten list of serial killer books) and I loved it. It is about a teenager who is convinced that he is destined to become a serial killer and lives by a bizarre set of rules to suppress his serial killing urges. He lives with his mother who is a mortician (not an ideal set up in the circumstances). When a serial killer begins knocking off the locals the bodies are sent to his mother for burial preparation and our young hero gets to see the bodies. With his knowledge of serial murder he begins to suspect the most unlikely person of being the culprit and sets about trying to expose him. The novel takes a surprising supernatural twist as he battles against his own inner demons as his pursuit of the killer brings him ever closer to his own true nature. Well worth a read.
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on 4 June 2013
This isn't my usual choice of genre to read, but having heard good reviews, I thought I'd give it a go. And I was not disappointed! From the outset, the book had me gripped and I couldn't put the book down.
Good aspects to this book:
> Lots of action (and death) throughout
> You get to read through the mind of a serial killer (for some reason, this was particularly intriguing!)
> Not too many characters, and you do get to know all of the main characters in depth
> Couldn't always guess what was going to happen
> Gory (if you're into that)
> Interesting to understand John's character, and to see the constant battle he faces in his head - John VS Mr Monster
> You enjoy trilogies - you will definitely want to get your hands on book two after reading this one

So why not 5 stars? For me, there were lots (too many) questions left unanswered. The paranormal/supernatural element came as a bit of a surprise to me too, but I guess we will learn more in books 2 and 3!

Now to read Mr Monster...
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