I finally finished reading I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells. You may remember mentioning that I discovered the book after I saw an online ad for the movie adaptation.
I debated if I should read the book first or watch the movie first, decided that I should watch the movie first, and now have finished the book. You can see my movie review here. This post will be a review of the book, with no spoilers, but I will be comparing it to the movie in the process.
The first thing I noticed was that the movie followed the book almost exactly for the first 100 pages. Most of the dialogue in the movie was lifted directly from the book. So while I was reading it, I was pretty much replaying the movie in my head, which I am not sure if I liked or not.
The writing style was good. At points I felt like the author was trying a little too hard to get us into the head of his main character, but at other times, and for most of the book, he pulled off a creepy feel for the mind of would be killer John Wayne Cleaver.
Early on he tried to foreshadow the supernatural element of the story, but I think it was poorly done. It was a single line from the main character about a “demon” followed by his own thoughts that “we didn’t know that yet.” I think the story would have been better off not even mentioning it until the reveal a little less than midway through the book.
After the 100 page mark on the Kindle edition the book was still pretty much the same as the movie but a few strands branched off differently than the movie did. This was an area that made the book better than the movie. The main character knows who the killer is, and becomes fascinated with him. The book does a great job exploring that fascination and following the main character as he slowly discovers how and why the killer is doing what he is doing.
The main character does decide that he needs to stop the killer on his own so he finds the killer’s weakness and slowly devises a plan to stop him.
In the climax of the story we have a battle that isn’t filled with action and heroics, but knocks it out of the park with suspense, paranoia, and consequences. The final scenes in the book remind me of a minor league Stephen King novel, but it did so in a good way.
John Wayne Cleaver is the same at the end of the story as he is at the beginning, but the changes that did take place inside his head make me wonder what will happen to him. What will become of a person trying so hard not to kill people? I may pick up the second book in the series just to find out.
As I expected the book is better than the movie, but surprisingly enough the movie is almost just as good. They are both fantastic in their medium, and I enjoyed both very much.
If you want to get into the head of a twisted teenager that seems destined to be a serial killer, definitely check this book out.