Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review: Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

Title: Dear Killer
Author: Katherine Ewell
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller
Release Date: 1 April, 2014
Source: HarperTeen via Edelweiss

Average Goodreads rating: 3.41 out of 5.00 (140+ ratings)
Goodreads | The Reading Room

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.

Katherine Ewell’s Dear Killer is a sinister psychological thriller that explores the thin line between good and evil, and the messiness of that inevitable moment when life contradicts everything you believe.
Review by Nara

*Note: Quotation taken from the ARC and may not be the same in the final copy*
Rule one.
Nothing is right, nothing is wrong
I have to say I really can't agree with the above rule. You know why? IT'S SO WRONG THAT THE AUTHOR OF THIS BOOK IS FREAKING ONLY EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD. Holy guacamole, what an achievement! Makes me wonder what the hell I've done with my life haha. While overall, I think this book was perhaps a bit shaky, I do have to say that it's not a terrible debut- despite its flaws I did enjoy it.

It was quite interesting reading from the point of view of a character with a very skewed view on morality. I don't think I've read too many books where the main character is the "villain" (not too many YAs where that's the case, anyway), and it was definitely strange seeing Kit's insight into how seriously she takes her role as a serial killer, and how she justifies all the murders. And hoooly crap, there was no holding back on the gore of the killings. They were pretty dang gruesome.

I have got to say that the biggest flaw of this book is that a lot of aspects of the book are supremely unbelievable. To list a few of these unrealistic things:
- High school students write letters to an assassin asking them to, shall we say, "take care of" classmates (also while paying a hefty fee). Some of the reasons for the asking of the kills were pretty ridiculous as well. Along the lines of "she broke my heart and deserves to die" blah blah blah. Actually, even some of the reasons of the adults for asking for kills seemed pretty superficial...
- The letters and money are left in a bathroom stall for Kit to collect at her leisure. IS THERE NO CLEANER AT THIS BATHROOM?! ARE THERE NO PEOPLE WHO ARE TEMPTED TO STEAL THE MONEY?!
- The police are completely incompetent. They can't even pick up on something worked out by a high school girl. Also, with regards to the point above, WHY THE EFF HAVEN'T THE POLICE DISCOVERED THE DROP-OFF POINT FOR THE LETTERS. WHY ARE THEY NOT STAKING IT OUT. WTF, POLICE.
- The person in charge of the investigation of the Perfect Killer allows a random high school girl to help with the investigations, even allowing her access to the crime scenes. She ain't no Sherlock Holmes, bro.
- The "Perfect Killer". It's ridiculous that in ALL the kills made, Kit wouldn't have left behind ANYTHING at all. The few kills we saw seemed pretty sloppy. In one case she "forgot to leave herself an escape route". In another, she made a kill in a place that wasn't particularly secure and nearly got herself seen by a police officer. That doesn't seem particularly "perfect" to me...
- The fact that Kit said that she kept the levels of her kills so that she wouldn't catch international attention, but surely with several kills a week, that'd be enough for the locals to bring in some big guns.
Basically, I just had serious problems with suspension of disbelief.

I was actually thinking of rating the book four stars until the ending. The ending is seriously anticlimactic and, quite honestly, a complete disappointment. Although I do have to admit that I wouldn't be able to come up with a better ending. From the very start of the book, I really had no idea where the book was going. I couldn't really see how the author would tie everything up at the end- and lo and behold, everything wasn't tied up -_-

Well, as I said at the start, I think I did enjoy the book overall, despite it being completely and ridiculously unbelievable. I would say that I'd recommend it to younger readers, as I feel that people who haven't had too much exposure to the YA genre might have more ease with accepting the unrealistic aspects. But, of course, the gore. So...not quite sure who I'd recommend it to. I suppose you should just give it a try if it sounds interesting to you.

It was okay

Overall: 6/10
Plot: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 3/5