Friday, April 20, 2012
Author: Dan Wells
Enjoyment Rating: 8/10
Referral: Whitney Finalist
Source: Personal copy, purchased with the intent to read it last year
Books I've read this year: 57
I'm coming into the home stretch with the Whitney books. I'd planned to read I Don't Want to Kill You as my last book, sort of a reward for finishing the whole thing, and while a library hold that took more than two months thwarted that plan, it was incredibly satisfying to (almost) finish out the Whitneys by finishing out the story of John Cleaver. The first year I read the Whitney finalists was the year I am Not a Serial Killer was a finalist, and that book made a huge impression on me. For the most part, it was a fantastic book-- albeit a little more gory than I was expecting and a lot more supernatural than I was anticipating until the end. Mr. Monster was also a rewarding read, although it was definitely the middle book of a trilogy, and those poor middle books always have issues just by nature of their place in things. But I Don't Want to Kill You is Dan Wells at his finest-- he hit his stride with this one. We know John Wayne Cleaver, and love him despite his sociopathic tendencies, we understand the world he inhabits, and we know that no matter what else we see in the novel, Cleaver's small North Dakota town will see lots and lots of deaths.
For a guy who doesn't understand girls and has the unfortunate habit of fantasizing about seeing them dead on his embalming table (he and his mom run the town mortuary), John certainly gets a lot of action in I Don't Want to Kill You, where he tries to track a serial killer, beckons the demon he spoke with to come find him, and has to cope with the fact that a rash of suicides has erupted among his high school peers. He's also juggling a new, hot girlfriend while holding out a torch for Brooke, who got tortured alongside him in Mr. Monster and is now keeping her distance. One of the most consistent parts of the John Cleaver stories thus far has been the way his family (his aunt, his sister, and particularly his mother) work together to prevent John from giving into his tendencies (he doesn't want to become Dexter, if he can help it), and the aunt and sister are largely absent from I Don't Want to Kill You. However, John's mother's role is as supportive as ever, and she plays a large part in the surprising (but if you look at the arc of the three stories it seems inevitable) conclusion. A thoroughly rewarding finish to the Awards readings.