Book Review: Mr. Monster by Dan Wells

Written by . Posted at 9:45 pm on January 10th, 2011

Last week I reviewed I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells, and aside from a few minor criticisms, I highly enjoyed the book. It should come as no big surprise that I also enjoyed Mr. Wells’ follow up, Mr. Monster. I would even say I liked it more. A lot more.

The second installment of the John Wayne Cleaver series has our young protagonist struggling with the repercussions of his decisions in the first book while his small town recovers from the string of brutal serial killings. The vast majority of the townsfolk believe that the “Clayton Killer” remains at large, but since the murders have stopped they are beginning to feel more confident. That is, until new bodies begin to show up. Troubling to both John and the police, these corpses have a vastly different MO than the original killer.

Much of what I said in the last review applies to Mr. Monster as well—great overall style, compelling characters, and believable dialog; however, slightly predictable. I am glad to report that there were no obvious plot holes. It’s normally a given that an author would improve on subsequent novels, but the story really did graduate into something more complex and intriguing without going over the heads of his target audience, even beyond what I would have anticipated. Another place this novel excels over the first is in suspension of disbelief. Logic outside of the book may lead you to believe you know who can and can’t be the killer, but circumstantial evidence and characterization turn that logic on its head before the actual killer is revealed, leaving the reader second-guessing any preconceived notions they may have had about “whodunnit.”

With I Am Not a Serial Killer, I said that I couldn’t in good conscious recommend the book for anyone under about 13. With Mr. Monster, I might raise that number a little higher. Violence and gore are again used to tell the story, not gratuitously or arbitrarily for “shock factor,” but there are also a few scenes of torture and human depravity that might be too much for younger readers. Especially if your family has a beloved cat.

The third book in the series, I Don’t Want to Kill You is due out on March 29th. I’ll be reading (and potentially reviewing) a lot of novels between now and then, but I’m excited to visit Clayton County again. Many endings to books or movies leave you wanting more. Mr. Monster‘s finale is such that if something unfortunate happened and Mr. Wells were unable to complete the third book, fans would clamor for another author to pick up the baton and give them closure on the saga of John W. Cleaver. Probably whoever wrote the best eulogy for Mr. Wells.

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  1. Mr Sanderson perhaps?

  2. 😉

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