The Starving Bibliophile

Books before food (and any sort of comfortable life).

Dear Killer: YA Book Review

Dear KillerName: Dear Killer
Series: N/A
Author: Katherine Ewell
Pages: 359
Published: April 1st, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Format: Paperback, Kindle, eBook, and Audio
Rating: 2/5 stars

Summary: Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong. Rule Two—Be careful. Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest. Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible. Rule Five—The letters are the law. Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known. But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway. All opinions are my own. You can find the review on Goodreads here.

This book was… interesting. I’m not sure if I mean that in a negative way or a positive way. After finishing it, though, I was left with a feeling of dissatisfaction. I felt like the whole time there was something coming, something big that the author was leading up to, but it just never came. The book blurb leads you to believe that it’s a thriller. Fast-paced. Exciting. But… it’s kind of slow and there’s really not that much action.

Premise – The premise of the novel is that the main character, Kit, has been a teenage serial killer since the age of nine. Okay… Why does it sound hard to believe that a seventeen-year-old has been killing for over half of her life? I just can’t see a 4th/5th grader taking down anyone that’s over the age of maybe 11 or 12. To believe that she’s been killing GROWN ADULTS? I just, no. I’m sorry, but a nine-year-old stands absolutely no chance against a grown anyone. Man, woman, doesn’t matter.

I only killed four between the ages of nine and twelve, but when I took absolute possession of the mailbox I set a quicker pace-about ten a year.

Nope nope nope nope. You can not make me believe even a twelve-year-old killed anyone resembling an adult. Child murderer, maybe. But I don’t care how much “training” she supposedly got, she can’t kill an adult.

Realism – Okay, so Katherine Ewell has never watched a crime show in the history of ever.

Black carpet so the bloodstains wouldn’t help the police solve the murder.

Luminol. It’s called luminol. It’s this little spray can/bottle that they can spray on BASICALLY ANYTHING and the blood will show up even if you clean the utter hell out of it. It kind of glows, and its neat as hell, and you think you’re clever Katherine Ewell but you’re not.

I might leave a lot to chance by killing with bare hands, but at least I would make myself untraceable.

No… no that’s wrong. If you hit/kick/strangle someone, a bruise forms even after they’re dead. You can be identified by the print your hand/foot/whatever makes.

[Alex the police officer] lifted up the [police] tape and gave me a what the hell look. I smiled wryly and walked underneath.

*flips table* I don’t even know if I want to touch that one. But, God, I must. There is no way in heaven, hell, or purgatory that a cop, much less one who is one of the leads in an investigation, is going to let a random teenage girl tramp around all over his/her crime scene. Ewell treats the cops in this book like a bunch of blubbering morons. I’m sorry, but they didn’t get to be investigators by asking strangers their opinion. I know sometimes they get frustrated when a case isn’t being solved, but Jesus Christ.

Strangely few people knew about [the mailbox], considering the fact that I was so famous. Not even the police knew about it. […] Since I had last come, a lot of people had made requests. Letters nearly filled the mailbox, at least thirty of them.

Really now. No one knows? Are you sure? And the police just happen to be the unlucky few who have no clue because they’re blubbering idiots. Right.

NarratorI hated Kit. I really did. She was cocky, egotistical, and she had such a God complex that I couldn’t even give a rat’s ass when her life went to shit. Her only saving grace was that she was a lunatic and it wasn’t her fault that she was the way she was. I understand that, yet I still hate her.

[Passersby] would see dark eyes under dark eyelashes, prominent collarbones, and a smattering of freckles dashed across a thin nose like Audrey Hepburn’s, the only truly beautiful feature of a small pale face […]

…Wow. I took that as a big “if you’re pale and you don’t look like me, you’re just ugly.” Considering that Kit seems to be described physically an awfully lot like Ewell, that’s severely insulting.

I was needed. I was a higher power. The people needed me. Without me, they would be lost.

Spare me.

Writing – Ugh… I have absolutely no problem with teenage writers. I understand that the book I received was an uncorrected proof. But for the love of everything, is there no such things as editors anymore? All the inaccuracies as far as the cops and crime scenes and the way they work—I just can’t. Some of that is basic knowledge, so how did the editor read over that and say, “Looks good!” And then there’s some of the actual writing. The phrasing. It just doesn’t make any damn sense.

I had forgotten I couldn’t wear [my jacket] while I was killing her, because it would be too bulky and I sometimes had to move like a dancer when I worked—oh well.

The hell does that even mean. First of all, why is there a comma before the word “because”? I realize that’s nit-picking, but it bothers the utter hell out of me. Second of all, using the phrase “move like a dancer” to describe murder is just not right at all. Ewell could have said “be lithe” or something. Third of all, I just really dislike this sentence. It’s like a third-grader wrote it. Also concerning the writing, I think Ewell has an unhealthy obsession with people’s eyes. You can flip to almost any page in this book and get a full on description of someone’s eyes. Kit could always tell how someone was feeling just by simply looking into their eyes. No descriptions of body language. Just. The. Damn. Eyes. It was like Kit had some extra ability to see into another character’s soul or something.

There was something in those eyes. An empty hatred, hatred with nowhere to go, nothing to be directed at. Hatred that let him blend in with the world for the most part, except when it grew to large for him to hold it in all the way. Hatred that bubbled to the surface but didn’t quite overflow. Hatred that led him to wish for his former friend’s death but wouldn’t let him kill her himself.

Uh huh… And she got that all in just one look into another character’s eyes. Please. No self-absorbed teenage girl is that perceptive.

The one and only thing about this book that I liked is the psychology behind it.

[…] even after [my mom] stopped killing, even after the end, the longing for murder still itched at her-she still needed death, needed to know that someone was still carrying out her work. So she trained me. She made me a murderer in her place; she lived through me.

Kit’s mother was a serial killer before Kit was. She slipped up, and thinking she would get caught, she hung up the figurative ax. She married a man who would never be home, and once she had a child, she raised that child to believe that it was that child’s duty to carry on her mother’s legacy. Kit has known nothing else her entire life. It’s like being raised to believe the sky is green, except that they don’t teach you in kindergarten not to be a serial killer. It’s very much like being raised as a certain religion—if no one says it’s wrong and the person you love most has always said it’s right, how can it not be the right way to look at the world? Children very much absorb like a sponge what their parents tell them. Kit’s fate was decided the minute her mom realized that she couldn’t completely give up killing. I do feel sorry for Kit because of this. I can sympathize with her and understand why she thinks what she does is right. However, the fact that she’s kind of a bitch made me not give any fucks about her.

Overall Impression: Dear Killer is interesting from a psychological standpoint, but the fact that the narrator is unlikable and there are so many things that are unrealistic turned this book into a big “no thank you” for me.




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This entry was posted on June 14, 2014 by in Books and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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