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Mr. Monster [Paperback]

Dan Wells

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  76 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Monster follow-up to I Am Not A Serial Killer Oct. 16 2010
By Elizabeth A. White - Published on
"Being partially to blame for your own therapist's death is a tough thing to deal with, especially because you don't have a therapist anymore to help you through it. Sometimes irony just kicks you in the teeth like that." - John Wayne Cleaver

Yes, John Wayne Cleaver is back, dark humor intact even if his grasp on Mr. Monster is not. In his first outing, I Am Not A Serial Killer, we learned that fifteen-year-old John had been diagnosed by his therapist as a sociopath, and self-diagnosed as a (potential) serial killer. The dark side of John's psyche, which he calls Mr. Monster, is always just below the surface, struggling to escape while John tries desperately to keep it under wraps. That struggle became decidedly more difficult after John confronted and killed a serial killer who was stalking his town in I Am Not A Serial Killer... Mr. Monster's now had a taste of what he wants.

As if trying to keep your homicidal impulses under control isn't enough for a teenager to deal with, Mr. Monster finds John juggling a host of additional challenges: a mother who knows "what" John is but refuses to discuss it; an absent father; an older sister in an abusive relationship (boy does Mr. Monster want a piece of that guy); and an attempted first romance (made extremely awkward by the violent thoughts Mr. Monster has about the object of John's attention). Oh, there are also the horribly tortured dead bodies that start turning up around town, and the FBI agent who seems a little too interested in John's thoughts on the murders.

Mr. Monster is told from John's point of view, as was I Am Not A Serial Killer, that first-person narrative being absolutely crucial for the reader to be privy to the war raging in John between his desire to be normal and Mr. Monster's desire to be set free. And what a war it is. While I Am Not A Serial Killer certainly had its moments, the violence is exponentially increased in Mr. Monster. The descriptions of the damage inflicted upon the victims of the town's new serial killer spare no detail, and the showdown depicted in the last quarter of the book between John and the killer - and between John and Mr. Monster - borders on the uncomfortable.

Rather than being gratuitous, however, author Dan Wells has developed John Wayne Cleaver with such nuance that the reader understands pulling any punches when describing the brutality John both faces and wants to commit would not be honest to the character. Wells is certainly not afraid to go places the reader may not necessarily want to, and has obviously done a tremendous amount of research into the psychology of serial killers. That John has done the same makes his level of self-awareness and struggle with Mr. Monster incredibly sympathetic... despite the fact his seriously twisted fantasies will creep you the hell out. It's a nifty balancing act for Wells to have pulled off.

You don't have to have read I Am Not A Serial Killer to enjoy Mr. Monster, but you're going to want to read it so go ahead and pick them both up if you haven't already. Just don't start either book unless you're prepared to finish it in one sitting... and don't read them late at night.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read Sept. 29 2010
By Larry Correia - Published on
Mr. Monster picks up shortly after the events of I am Not a Serial Killer. John Wayne Cleaver is still struggling with his sociopathic tendencies, brought to the fore in the last book when he squared off against a supernatural opponent, when a new killer comes to town. John has to call on his inner Mr. Monster to fight the new threat, but the real question is which is more dangerous, the new killer, or Mr. Monster?

I enjoyed the first one but I liked this one more. Dan Well's story was excellent, and makes you really care about the protagonist. Mr. Monster is darker than its predecessor, and there are a few scenes where you are find yourself cringing and saying "Oh, John, don't do THAT!" But then he goes and does it, and you're surprised to find that you care about the character's struggle even more.

I can't comment on the ending without giving any spoilers, but it ended on a note that set up the last book in the series perfectly, and it was simply awesome.

-Larry Correia, author of Monster Hunter International
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating view inside a sociopath Jan. 6 2011
By Lisa Reid - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Dan Wells has certainly done his homework. He pulled me in with I Am Not A Serial Killer, his first look at John Wayne Cleaver, his well-named sociopath (named for both John Wayne Gacy and a weapon). While the first novel explored the relationship between John's good side and "Mr. Monster," his twisted inner demon, this latest novel delves much farther into John's relationship with his own psychosis.

As someone who's always been a little fascinated with serial killers (I've stopped reading the true crime genre but still enjoy thrillers), John is an interesting anti-hero: he wants to be good, but he has to fight himself for the privilege, and he doesn't have any of the usual rewards for being good that the rest of the populace have since he doesn't have positive emotions. We see his anger and fear reactions later in the book, but he really doesn't experience love or other positive emotions like most people do.

John's war with Mr. Monster, as well as his interactions with other characters (his mother, aunt, sister, first crush, other kids at school, and an FBI agent he talks to about the murders occurring in town) reveal a lot about his mental state. Wells has done a brilliant job capturing not only a young mind, but a young sociopathic mind in turmoil. Well done!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unnerving, horrifying Feb. 21 2011
By Vautrin - Published on
The last 100 pages of this book are tense and unnerving, then horrifying. Hell in the lair of a monster. They give Silence of the Lambs a run for its money. The hero is ambiguous--both likable and repulsive, which adds to the uncertainty, tension, and horror. The prose is direct and crisp. A very good, fast read, if you can take it. I look forward to the next installment.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book Jan. 2 2011
By Emerino - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
This book makes you feel every emotion you have inside. Fast paced book I had to stay up to 4am to finish the book because i had to see how it ended. Great work.

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