Author: S.E. Green
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Number of Pages: 272
Release Dates: May 6, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
She’s not evil, but she has certain... urges.
Lane is a typical teenager. Loving family. Good grades. Afterschool job at the local animal hospital. Martial arts enthusiast. But her secret obsession is studying serial killers. She understands them, knows what makes them tick.
Because she might be one herself.
Lane channels her dark impulses by hunting criminals—delivering justice when the law fails. The vigilantism stops shy of murder. But with each visceral rush the line of self-control blurs.
And then a young preschool teacher goes missing. Only to return... in parts.
When Lane excitedly gets involved in the hunt for “the Decapitator,” the vicious serial murderer that has come to her hometown, she gets dangerously caught up in a web of lies about her birth dad and her own dark past. And once the Decapitator contacts Lane directly, Lane knows she is no longer invisible or safe. Now she needs to use her unique talents to find the true killer’s identity before she—or someone she loves—becomes the next victim...
I'm going to be honest up front. This review is going to get rant-y.
I promise not to give away any major spoilers, but there will be some minor spoilers ahead.
So stop me if you've heard this one before: A person grows up with certain violent "urges" that may or may not stem from some kind of tragic event they witnessed when they were a toddler--say 3 years-old--but they learn to harness those urges by becoming a kind of vigilante killer that only goes after those that really deserve it. The majority of you will immediately recognize this as the premise to Dexter...well it is also the premise to this book. I'm going to guess that somewhere around 99% of the reviews that get written about Killer Instinct will mention Dexter in some capacity. Why? Because this book flat-out steals its premise from the show. I felt absolutely disgusted the entire time by what a blatant rip-off this book is, and finished it only so I could write this review (the fact that it was under 300 pages helped).
- Vigilante Killer
Killer Instinct (KI): Lane says, "If it is my destiny to be a killer, I'm going to need a type. And today decides that my type will be criminals--specifically, those who have managed to avoid punishment."
Dexter: Only kills those who have killed--usually other serial killers.
- The Ritual
Dexter: Sets up a "kill room" where he displays pictures of those the person on his table has harmed so that they know exactly why they are about to die.
- Law Enforcement/Family:
KI: Lane's mother and stepfather are in law enforcement. In this case they both work for the FBI.
Dexter: Dexter's adopted father, Harry, was the police officer that found him and taught him the "code" in which Dexter lives by. Dexter's sister, Deb, works for Miami Metro as a detective, and Dexter, himself, works for Miami Metro as a blood-splatter analyst.
- Little baddies
Dexter: Goes after a man who got out of a drunk-driving manslaughter charge. Dexter goes after a couple who hold illegal aliens in their warehouse before selling them into slavery.
- The Major Baddie:
Dexter: The main baddie in season 1 is called The Ice-Truck Killer he...chops up body parts, drains the blood, paints the fingernails, and leaves the body parts in various places for the cops to find. It isn't long before the killer is contacting Dexter directly. Is he somehow tied to his past?
I could go on, but I know you all get the idea. I can understand wanting to emulate a show as awesome as Dexter (especially the first 4 seasons). I can. It was so different and original when it first came out. The writing was smart and witty, Deb was hilarious, and Dexter really did usher in a generation of the anti-hero (alongside The Sopranos and Breaking Bad). I can certainly understand wanting to bring the essence of that show to the YA crowd while also making the anti-hero a teen girl. It's a brilliant idea--maybe not the most original--but still very cool. BUT you have to make it your own. This could have been really good, but it just borrowed way too much from the show.
Even the parts that weren't lifted directly from Dexter were weird and disjointed. Lane, even though she "doesn't feel", is somewhat obsessed with her boss at the vet clinic. She eventually starts kind of dating his younger brother, Zach. Zach is a recovering alcoholic who has a crazy ex-girlfriend who tries to intimidate Lane which was just weird. It just felt like filler because the book is a relatively slim, and it was completely unnecessary to have this second crazy girl in the book.
Another major problem I had with this book is how Lane slut-shames her half-sister, Daisy, every chance she gets. Lane calls her a slut repeatedly through the book because Daisy isn't shy about giving blow jobs to the boys she is dating when Lane, herself, forces Zach's hand in between her legs in the school library to get off. Lane even at one point says, "Why do people find that act [sex] a challenge to admit or say in everyday conversation? Especially between two people who have participated in said act." Good point, Lane, and healthy, too. So why is your sister a slut because she, too, enjoys sex and can unabashedly talk about it? Furthermore, she is constantly talking about how she just can't deal with her sister, but Daisy doesn't really do anything to show how she is so "annoying."
Which brings me to my final point: the book is mostly "tell" not "show." There are obviously some action scenes. But the majority of the book is: and then this happened, and then this, etc. The writing felt juvenile for such a mature topic. This really goes without saying, but this is definitely NOT for the younger crowd.
What I did like about the book: 1. The writing is quickly paced and 2. I didn't immediately guess who The Decapitator was. I suspected, but did fall for the red herrings throughout, so there's that.
If you've never seen Dexter, you may enjoy this, but even then I just cannot recommend this. It's a bummer as I really was looking forward to this one. Dexter is obviously one of my favorite shows, so a teen girl Dexter was an exciting idea, but I wasn't expecting a rehash of the first season.
*I received an advanced reader's copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.*
*All quotes were taken from an uncorrected proof that may be changed in the final copy.*