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DoorQ.Com | Review: I Don't Want To Kill You by Dan Wells (2011)
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Review: I Don't Want To Kill You by Dan Wells (2011)

John Wayne Cleaver is back in this third (and final?) novel in the series by Dan Wells. Like I Am Not A Serial Killer and Mr. Monster, this serial-killer obsessed sixteen year-old, the sociopathic, emotionless, yet some how extremely lovable kid who works and lives in a mortuary, continues his battles with the supernatural elements that seem to be on par with the Hellmouth of Sunnydale.

It’s been a few months since the events of Mr. Monster, a time of quite reflection on the events of the previous six months where two killers, demons, have been haunting Clayton County. John’s ever increasing anxiety over who will come to his town in search of revenge for his acts of destroying the two previous monsters, feeds his increasing desire to kill, hurt and otherwise do harm. All he knows is the demon is called Nobody, and because these creatures can take on various shapes of humans, John is never sure if anyone he interacts with is Nobody.

Meanwhile, Brooke, the neighbor girl he’ll never admit he has feelings for, has barley spoke to him since the events of the second book. But when another girl, the daughter of a cop, takes an interest in him, John sees an opportunity to keep track of what’s happening in Clayton County.

Two things begin to happen; a killer is stalking town leaders, cutting their hands and tongue off, and driving spikes through their backs; and there is a sudden rash of suicides by girls. At first, John believes these new killings are connected to the demons, but they also match the profile of a real serial killer. As for the suicides, John seems more upset than usual – yet it has mostly to do with what he risked for his town, and he feels “what’s the point of saving someones life, if she’s just going to kill herself anyways?”

But John, who has sort of let his own inner monster out knows there is no way he can, or for that matter, really wants to put it back. So he struggles to maintain his list, but they begin to buckle under the pressure of his family, a new (and a first for him) girlfriend and the impeding battle he knows is coming.

Unlike the two previous books, most of Johns inner battles take a backseat to the murder mystery plot. John still struggles, but in this volume he becomes more of a detective, searching for clues like Colombo in hopes of encountering Nobody.

Still, like the two previous books, they are unapologetically dark and gory, and author Wells has an extreme, well honed grasp that is the voice of John Cleaver. Yet, as John became to think and act more like Buffy (granted, one without super-powers), his obsessions, his thoughts about killing his girlfriend and classmates take a back-seat, and thus this does not flow so naturally with the events of the last book. It’s distracting, somewhat. In the end, Wells tries to redeem John a bit by making him realize that he does have feelings, and I’m unsure why. After all, redemption cannot be handed out so easily like Halloween candy.

In the end, I still think this is a worthy series of books, this mash-up of Dexter and Stephen King. I’m unsure if this really is the end, if only because there has to be more demons out in the world, and John has become interested, perhaps, in finding his dad -I sensed the phone call John made in the latter half the book was more a set-up for a continuation.

Wells is a talented writer, and look forward to see where he goes next.

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