Sunday, April 01, 2012

Review: I Am Not Serial Killer (John Cleaver Series by Dan Wells)

This is a book which I whole heartily recommend you to read. This book will give you a side trip to a whole new point of view and different protagonist, there is none of those self sacrifice act, love, simple jealous, or wimpy-cry-baby. This book is all about darker side of human nature: when human kill another human.

So, we have John Wayne Cleaver, your average lone-boy in his teens, which had all those traits: unpopular, subject to bully, loner, have different (sometimes weird) hobby, and socially deficit. What other peoples didn’t know except his mother, his aunt and his therapist, is that John is a diagnosed anti-social and borderline on sociopath.

As I told you before, you won’t find those lovey-dopey relationship here (except if you find how John treat corpse and his fantasy of cutting several other people as lovey-dopey, which if you did I strongly suggest you to visit a therapist). This book will get you into the mind of a sociopath: ruthless, cold, and calculating.

The story is paced rather slowly, not overly slow, but for a story with only one storyline is not very fast. But it has consistent pacing. Even when John finally facing danger and enemy, he still remains cold and calculating, giving me this cold feeling. Reading this novel really like reading a book of biology or chemistry (no, I liked neither Physics nor Mathematics, go figure): everything is dissected plain, systematic, and coldly. But, surprise, the ending has this beautiful moment which feels very strong after the coldness of the story.

The characterization is very good; most of characters are development enough to make them felt real. You can imagine hundred of other people who just like John moms, sister, and other characters. It really felt real. And the simplicity of how the John mind presented is utterly brilliant. I find myself chuckling to dark humor and sarcasm John produce, and I think you will find yourself too.
The detail is very good, and the embalming explanation is very interesting. You can imagine clearly the world John lived.

To be frank, I would happier if the main antagonist on this story is a human (spoiler alert! Highlight if you want to spoil the story! No, the enemy is supra-natural, a demon to be fact). Serial killer versus an almost-serial killer story would be very cool, but then it wouldn’t fit into fantasy novels again if this book do that.
I think, this book is more about how John struggling every day with his dark side, how to be remain normal (or as normal as he could be), and not to be the serial killer his dark side wants to be. It’s a rather sweet and endearing story.

Another irk this novels had is that lot of things on this novel hit right on the spot to me. I don’t know how about other people, but sometime it just very similar how I think, how I feel, especially when I got one of those cold episode, or one of those rage episode. I think these book will hit lots of people spot how it presented the dark nature of human mind. And those loneliness felt (but not realized) by John will touch most of us (realized or not) also felt.

This book is really refreshing. Emotionally-void protagonists are really rare, and the chance to look into the mind of one is really interesting. The plot is rather simple, I could guest the ending most of the time, but the twist on the story make it really interesting, even if this book had those kind ending-come-with-no-sign-nor-preparation kind of plot development (like Earthsea trilogy). And, no, this is not those pure serial killer book, it’s a young-adult novel, for heaven’s sake. Although some site said so, I don't think this series is a trilogy. The ending on third book is too open to be a final book. And, yes, I'm going to write my review for the other two book.

I whole heartily recommend this book for you.