I Don't Want to Kill You (John Cleaver)

I Don't Want to Kill You (John Cleaver #3) - Dan Wells, Kirby Heyborne It's very rare that I come across a work that makes me go through the full range of emotions one can have when reading a story. "I Don't Want to Kill You", the final book in Dan Wells' John Cleaver trilogy, offered events and experiences where it made me smile, made me absolutely horrified, and also made me quite sad. Suffice to say, I think the way it genuinely surprised me in turns made this one of my favorite, if not my favorite, books in the trilogy, because you don't see some of the turns the story takes until it hits you blindsided. Definitely a page turner that keeps you reading and wanting more as you reach the final page, and even when you reach the end - it leaves an indelible impression.I usually say that books that have the ability to take you through the motions and make you care about the characters while also making you think about the subject within are the best to pick up. This was no exception. John Cleaver is a protagonist who continuously struggles with his inner demons, but in quite a different way in this final installation of the trilogy. Having taken down two demons in the previous books, he finds himself anticipating an encounter with yet another demon. It isn't long before there are concurrent events running through Clayton County - a rising body count with a serial killer having a specific mission in mind, and a series of suicides of young girls from John's school that stun the community. John struggles to come to terms with both of these, not only uncovering the mystery behind the demonic serial killer, but also making sense of life and death, as well as love and loss.For a good while in the book, it does seem like the typical cat and mouse game that John pursues, questioning the people around him, having the sense of being watched while trying to watch whom he thinks may be responsible for the killings, but at the same time, you see his inner struggles much like in the former books. The fact that he finds love in an unexpected place, with a popular girl attending his school, and the struggles he undertakes with that is very much like what a teenage boy would struggle with, only John has just that much more to consider with his sociopathic tendencies. His actions not only project him as being brave and wanting to confront his problems head on, but also that he has a heart underlying his predicted path. When I reached the latter third of the book, I couldn't tell you how much it surprised me and had me glued to the audiobook wanting to know what happened until the very end. On one level, finishing the book made me realize just how brilliant, tragic, and effective the ending was, but at the same time, I was absolutely horrified at the emotional rollercoaster. Many times I wondered "Did that just happen? Are you serious?" So, I'm personally thanking the author, even if the ending completely hit me like a sack of bricks. It's not going to leave me anytime soon. I won't spoil the events, but I will say this was a fitting end to a wonderful trilogy. It's certainly a story I'd come back to. It deals with some tough events and has some vivid scenes of violence and gore, but it's consistent with the audience of the previous books, and I think those who enjoyed the previous books will finds something to like in this installation.Overall score: 4/5