Monday, May 18, 2009
I am not a horror reader
I am not a horror reader, but at BYU's science fiction symposium, I heard Dan Wells read from his new book, I Am Not a Serial Killer. The main character charmed me in disturbing ways: John Wayne Cleaver is a 15-year-old mortician, and a diagnosed sociopath...but he's trying very hard NOT to become a serial killer. It's kind of the ultimate application of all those rules about YA fiction: main character has to be a teenager, has to be relatable, has to be somehow different, all at the same time. In the part Dan read, John's getting bullied at the school dance. Relatable, right? He scares the bullies away by describing just how indifferent he feels to them as living human beings, and just how interesting he thinks it would be to take them apart and see what they look like inside. But he also manages to creep out the cute girl who almost asked him to dance. See? Charming. Creepy. Disturbing.
Then a real, live serial killer comes to the kid's town, and it's up to John to outwit the killer while holding onto his own sanity.
You don't want to give this book to your precocious preteen reader. My kids—even the full-on teenager—were intrigued by the title while seeming to know they needed to leave this one alone. But even if you don't usually like to read about murder, guts, autopsies, and seriously sick individuals, you might be disturbed to find that you really enjoy this book.