My first exposure to John Wayne Cleaver was in May of last year. On a whim I picked up I Am Not A Serial Killer [my review here] and had my breath stolen away. I burned through the first book in just a few hours, unable to tear my eyes from the words. Wells’ book made it to the shortlist of my favorite books I read in 2011, and I knew that the sequel(s) would be savored at some later time. Now that RIP season is here, I decided to give Mr. Monster a go.
Mr. Monster is a direct sequel to I Am Not A Serial Killer, taking place just a few months after the events of the first book. John is now sixteen years old and still a sociopath. His control on his inner voice—Mr. Monster—is tenuous, and John’s worried that his grip on his strict rules my slip too far. His families mortuary business has slowed down now that the Clayton Killer has apparently stopped, and John’s been itching for excitement. Unfortunately for the townsfolk of Clayton, another killer soon arrives on the scene, and once again John’s attraction gets the better of him.
In Book One of this series there was an abrupt shift in the plot when the true identity of the killer was revealed. It was so shocking that I re-read the paragraph several times, making sure that I understood what Dan Wells was saying. In Book Two, there was another scene like this, and I really shouldn’t have been so ill-prepared for it, but I was. Suffice it to say that I stayed up long past my bedtime to finish the book. My pulse was racing away and I had a strange sense of dread within.
Mr. Monster starts out slower than the first book, but this pace is never really boring. Once the Great Reveal happens, the action explodes. It was sickening, honestly, and quite disturbing. We’re dealing with serial killers here, and Dan Wells writes as if he’s familiar. Needless to say, this book is not for the faint of heart or the weak of will. There are scenes that will haunt you, but in a good way. On some points I would market this book as YA, but on others I would urge caution. Teens can definitely relate to John (i.e., high school angst and parental issues), but so can we all.
I’ve kept this review intentionally vague because of the Great Reveal. If you’ve not read I Am Not A Serial Killer then you shouldn’t read Mr. Monster. If you have read the first book and enjoyed it, then you’ll love what comes in the sequel. The book is a bit darker than the first, but there’s plenty of lightheartedness, too. I’ve been very impressed with everything I’ve read from Dan Wells so far (see also A Night of Blacker Darkness [my review here] for a comical RIP book) and I very much look forward to finishing up this series.