Friday, August 27, 2010

Final Summer of My Utah Writers: I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER

I have tried some fun things on this blog, but I must say that reading and responding to some of the FAN.TAS.TIC Utah authors has been so so so enjoyable. I do NOT want to stop reading and writing about these fine novels, and so I won't. But I will post them on my writing blog: The Write Groove. Readers of this blog will still see my mini reviews on this site under "Read My List."

Now onto this most fascinating novel: I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells. First I have to say I received some funny comments when people saw me reading this book. My daughter-in-law read the title aloud and then added, "Glad to hear that, Renae. I was worried." My sons asked me if I was going to write my own versions, such as I am Not a Bad Driver or I am Not Hard of Hearing. Haha.

The most common reaction, however, was laughter out loud! Seriously, many thought this was a humorous novel, and when I told them it wasn't, they asked why then was I reading it. So here are the reasons:

1. Dan Wells, the author, hosted WRITING FOR CHARITY on August 21, 2010, and he was absolutely hilarious. Yes, he did plug his book, but it was in a charming, self-effacing way. Reassuring us that he was NOT the model for John Wayne Cleaver, he did admit to having a fascination for reading and talking about serial killers. Rather than sending him to a shrink, his friends requested that he stop talking about them and write about them.

2. Cheryl Bago, book-seller AND frequent guest blogger on Throwing Up Words, wrote about a possible up and coming/returning trend in YA: mysteries and horror novels - sort of in the Lois Duncan and R.L. Stein realm. At least she receives frequent requests for these genres. Well, I Am Not a Serial Killer fills both bills! And WHAT A PAGE TURNING TREAT IT IS.

3. I mean how many YA novels have you read where the main character possesses many of the traits of a serial killer, and yet, he is funny, likable, and sympathetic as well as irritating, scary, and courageous.

4. The plot is twisted, and I mean in a good way. SURPRISES! Interesting COMPLICATIONS that pull at your heartstrings. I'm serious!

5. The characters are intriguing. Mom and Auntie are morticians - don't know of many women funeral directors, but these 2 are good at what they do. Sister Lauren Bacall Cleaver is a moody rebel, and Max, John's one and only friend, is a loner who can be pretty funny, too. I like and trust John's psychiatrist, too, because John, who likes few people, likes and trusts him. He "gets" John. Besides the main character, Mr. Crowley is an especially compelling character. All of them are well developed with layers that demand our attention. Love it.

6. While reading, I would sometimes go, "EEE-YOOO" because John's dark thoughts would trouble me, but then I read the next paragraph and would think, "Oooooh! He's fighting so hard against being something he really doesn't want to be. Will he be all right? He will make it, won't he?" Dan keeps his readers off balance this way, and that makes reading all the better.

I know this book isn't for everyone, and I doubt that I would have picked it up if Dan hadn't charmed me and 150 other people into giving it a try, but I really enjoyed it. Creepiness and all. I just saw where Alpine School District teachers are reading it for their book club. Can't wait to see if it makes Alpine's approved book list. I'm doubting it as, you know, the district is in Utah County! It may be violent, but there is little to no swearing!

BUT it makes my approved list. Just be warned.

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