books I've read

Anne Hawn's books

Who Moved My Cheese?
If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans
Scientific Secrets for Self-Control
Just One Damned Thing After Another
The Vanishing
Exercises in Knitting
The Good Dream
The Very Best of Edgar Allan Poe
The Chosen
BT-Kids' Knits
Talking God
The Professor
The Christmas Files
The Finisher
Home Decor for 18-Inch Dolls: Create 10 Room Settings with Furniture and 15 Outfits with Accessories
Dracula and Other Stories
A New Song
All Quiet on the Western Front
File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents

Anne Hawn Smith's favorite books »

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Friday, February 28, 2014

I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver, #1)

I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver, #1)I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been working with my granddaughter on critical thinking and we've used Encyclopedia Brown and Sherlock Holmes stories to do some deductive reasoning.  I tried this book because it seemed like it might work.  While the book has some appeal for fans of horror fiction, it was NOT a book using deductive reasoning.

The 15 year old boy is a sociopath, John, who believes that he has a 'monster' in him who is trying to make him become a serial killer.  He lives with his mother over a mortuary owned by his mother and her sister.  John's dysfunctional sister also works there doing paperwork.  He is fascinated by serial killers and loves helping with the dead bodies in the mortuary.

At the same time, there is a serial killer on the loose in the small town he lives in.  His fascination with serial killers and mortuary processes combine when all the victims are sent to the family business.

The book is filled with gory details, which I guess are expected, but the part I found both fascinating and yet overdone are the inner dialogs which John has between the 'monster' in him and the side of him which has made 'rules' to keep him from becoming a serial killer.  They go on and on and become very tiresome, but the struggles of a sociopath to understand empathy and the demands of society I think are very well done.  John is in therapy so the reader gets to know some of the ways the doctor is trying to help him, but that is also convoluted.

The biggest weakness in the book is the plot. A lot of it is inconsistent and improbable.  The book would have been much better if the author hadn't resorted to the supernatural in the actual serial killer.  In fact, I find that a contradiction. It is set up as a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation but the concept of an actual demon makes it neither fish nor fowl.

I gave it 3 stars because I think that people who enjoy this type of fiction would not be disappointed, but it had serious flaws for me.

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