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"I peered deeper into the mirror, searching. Who was staring back? He looked like me, he talked like me, his body moved when mine did. I swayed to the right, then left, then back to centre; the person in the mirror did the same. This was the thing that terrified me the most – more than the victim, more than the demon, more even than the dark thoughts. It was the fact that the dark thoughts were mine. That I couldn’t separate myself from evil, because most of the evil in my life came from inside my own head.”

Mr. Monster is a direct sequel to I am not a Serial Killer and the second book in the first John Cleaver trilogy by Dan Wells. There are major spoilers for the first book in this one. I'll try to tag some of them, but unless you don't plan on reading the first book (which you really should. It's a good book), then don't continue reading this.

Sorta spoiler-free Synopsis (for people who have read the first book):

Sociopathic fifteen year old John Cleaver is back and, unfortunately, so are the killers. After the death of the last serial murderer in town, John is seen as something of a town hero. The town will never now how far his heroics actually go-- but they do know that he had a hand in scaring the killer away, and that he tried to save the last victim. However, the weeks of ruthlessly stalking, intimidating, and then finally murdering the killer has unleashed John's Mr. Monster, what he considers to be his dark side, the killer inside him.

Until now, John has had Mr. Monster under tight control with the use of his Rules (No stalking. If you find you're stalking someone, ignore them for a week. If you want to threaten or hurt someone, give them a compliment. No fires. Etc.) Now Mr. Monster is on the loose, and John is. . . actually pretty okay with it. He fools himself into making exceptions to his rules: he can light fires if nothing gets hurt. He can check out girls, provided he keeps his hands off. He can put his hands on, provided he has permission. He won't let himself hurt animals, but he can take the legs and wings off a pile of crickets instead. And so what if he thinks about the girl he likes all the time? It's not really stalking when she likes him back, is it? The whole time, never realizing how the line between John and Mr. Monster is blurring; he says he stops feeling Mr. Monster fighting inside him and takes it to be a good sign, but it's not until later he realizes the reason he doesn't feel Mr. Monster raging inside him is because Mr. Monster is now thoroughly out.

Meanwhile, an FBI agent has set up shop in town, saying he wants to find the Clayton County serial killer. John, of course, is fascinated and takes it all as a game. The Clayton County killer is dead; he'd killed it himself. But this is a real FBI agent, doing real FBI things, and when another serial killer shows up in town, torturing women and seemingly sending messages to either the first killer or to the one that killed him, John insists on getting involved.


I am loving this series and this author. I've always been a sucker for psychological horror and exploration of various mental things (insanity, sociopathy, or whatever), and while I have seen some poorly written sociopaths before (*cough* Sherlock *cough*), John parses a little more realistic. As in the first book, he continually forgets that love is a thing, sliding instead towards possession as a replacement (until he actually tries to use love against the demon, but even then he knows he has no real idea of what he is talking about and just parrots what he's heard others describe it as).

The entire arc of him attempting to come to terms with Mr. Monster, only to realize that he can never truly come to terms with it without letting it out to kill people, is an interesting one, and we see John sink to pretty much the lowest point in the series in this book when he breaks his rules against hurting animals in a big way. And funnily enough, it's the audience who sees this as a low point. John realizes what he's done and is upset with himself, but for entirely different reasons than the audience is. For us, it's "OH MY GOD! What did you do? Jesus Christ kid!" for him it's "dangit, I just inexcusably broke that rule. I should probably try and fix what's wrong with me."

I highly recommend the books, but again there are some pretty visceral descriptions of torture in the latter half of the book, so I suppose if you're sensitive about that sort of thing you ought to look elsewhere.

“It's not John who wants to cut his mother into tiny pieces, it's Mr. Monster. See? I feel better already.”

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