The Killer in Me ★☆☆☆☆

the killer in meThis is unfortunately just one of those books where we’re trying to please everyone so everything is happening all at once and all up front.

Seventeen-year-old Nina Barrows knows all about the Thief. She’s intimately familiar with his hunting methods: how he stalks and kills at random, how he disposes of his victims’ bodies in an abandoned mine in the deepest, most desolate part of a desert.

Now, for the first time, Nina has the chance to do something about the serial killer that no one else knows exists. With the help of her former best friend, Warren, she tracks the Thief two thousand miles, to his home turf—the deserts of New Mexico.

But the man she meets there seems nothing like the brutal sociopath with whom she’s had a disturbing connection her whole life. To anyone else, Dylan Shadwell is exactly what he appears to be: a young veteran committed to his girlfriend and her young daughter. As Nina spends more time with him, she begins to doubt the truth she once held as certain: Dylan Shadwell is the Thief. She even starts to wonder . . . what if there is no Thief?

I made it roughly 15% of the way through The Killer in Me before I was pushed out of the story and back onto my couch. Although, to be honest, I’d been teetering on the edge for most of what I had read. Prior to finally putting it down, I was juggling a lot of background information.

Nina’s got a hefty past to confront that really should have been her current struggle rather than something she just recaps to us as a trial she’s already passed. We’ll start with her addiction to pills. She freely admits to having conquered this issue as she craves more pills in order to remain awake all night so as to watch the Thief. All fine and dandy but watching her struggle through that and succumb to the pills to stay away would have been much more interesting.

Moving on, she was adopted–and is completely aware of this fact because her mother, a single lesbian, never kept it from her. Again, both points are just fine. Great that her mother is a representative to the LGBQT community and great that she’s adopted.

Not great that this was not a discovery she made during the length of The Killer in Me. I feel robbed of an especially powerful and moving scene in which Nina finds all of this information out.

On top of this, Nina is psychically connected to the Thief, a serial killer.

When The Killer in Me opens, Nina already has the connection to the Thief. I think this annoyed me the most. We never got to watch her learn that it was real (or not–I honestly know because #DNF). We didn’t get to see her wake up from this nightmare. We didn’t get to watch a significant part of her journey.

We joined Nina after her breaking point and we were barely given the facts about how she got there.

Overall, there was simply too much going on up front and not enough to keep my interest. A lot of background information was dumped on the reader in an attempt to characterize Nina, but it was done so haphazardly and quickly that I was not drawn to her or her story. Cool idea, poor execution. No pun intended.

By J. M. Tuckerman

J.M.Tuckerman is a neurodivergent writer with a big education. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, an MA in Writing, and a BA in Writing Arts (specializing in Creative Writing, New Media Writing, and Publication; concentrating in New Media Production), which she somehow managed to earn despite her three very loud and large dogs. Jessica was lucky enough to intern at Quirk Books and Picador, USA while earning her master’s degrees. Her service dog, Ringo, is very proud of all that she has accomplished and hopes to be on a back cover of a published book with her very soon. An avid reader, writer, and lover of young adult and middle-grade literature, Jessica’s bookshelf is overflowing with hardbacks, paperbacks, and a million half-filled notebooks. She is a proud fur-mommy to two lab/st-bernard littermates, a retriever-mix service dog, and one orange little hobgoblin cat, all of whom have made very audible appearances on the Booked All Night podcast.

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