19. Mr. Monster – Dan Wells
This is the second book in a trilogy of novels about a young man named John Wayne Cleaver, however I read it first and so I’m writing about it first. Like any decently written set of books, it didn’t matter that I started with the second one. Especially considering the massive amount of psychological world building that Wells does with John in the story – it’s a very significant achievement to create a clear picture of a sociopath who is trying so hard to care and who also must tap into the darkest part of himself (the titular “Mr. Monster”) in order to overcome the major conflict in the story. John Wayne Cleaver is a very well written character and despite being a teenage boy (and a sociopath), did not irritate me instantaneously or throughout the book. Any of the books, really. I expect to be irritated by teenage boys as it happens in real life often; it happened especially often when I was working at the public library during the summer.
I’ve seen these books referred to as “young adult,” probably because of the protagonist’s age and the use of first-person, however, I do not feel that they are really being aimed at young adults by their author. Although it would be nice to get some of the more borderline-sociopathic young adults to attempt to feel something or behave in a more respectful manner towards everyone around them, these novels are not the way to put the kidlets on that train.
23. I Am Not a Serial Killer – Dan Wells
The introductory novel was a mite stilted to me, if I hadn’t already read Mr. Monster I probably would have been more intrigued. It was interesting seeing what got John to the point that he’s at in Mr. Monster though. One of the things that popped into my head, and I’m sure, the heads of many others with more information, while reading this was Dexter. I haven’t watched Dexter, I haven’t read Jeffry Lindsay’s novels about Dexter, but I have been told many times over that I would enjoy them. Someone named after cheese told me that I reminded him of Dexter and I assumed it was because I’m methodical in my serial killing but it turns out that it was because of a concept that the Dexter oeuvre and the John Wayne Cleaver novels share in a manner – the dark passenger. I’m not a sociopath (or a serial killer, sorry to disappoint) but I do tend toward the melancholy and macabre sides of things and apparently I have some sort of alternate voice in my head like Mr. Monster or the Dark Passenger that Mr. Cheese noticed and I haven’t yet. I’ve also been told that I reminded someone of Dr. House, so I’m taking all comparisons with a grain of salt. A big one. I’m not a doctor either, but I do have a fondness for bones. Especially early hominid and animal bones. Anyway, another concept that Dexter and John Wayne Cleaver share (I think, again, this is based on the explanations of a nice cheese person) is that they have rules. Who they’ll kill, in Dexter’s case, and how they should behave in John’s case. I think that the establishment of the rules definitely helped develop the stories Wells is telling and made John Wayne Cleaver likable. Since his antagonists are interesting, but not particularly strong characters in the first two books, it is extra-important to want to follow John.
29. I Don’t Want to Kill You – Dan Wells
Great ending. The progression of these three novels is exactly what’s needed for an awesome first-person trilogy. The first one gets all the world building out of the way, the second one goes faster but continues to develop the character, and the third one whips it all out of control. Of course, there were a couple of slow moments, but as a whole, this was the best book of the trilogy and that’s what I would want my readers to feel were I writing a trilogy (oh wait, I am). Peaches.