Friday, 16 May 2014

Killer Instinct - S. E. Green

Published: May 6th 2014, Simon Pulse
Pages: 272 pages, eBook
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Acquired: Purchased

Summary (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.

Why?

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...

My review: It's not very often you come across a YA novel that focuses on serial killers, so when I read the summary for Killer Instinct I knew I had to give it a go. I am a fan of horror novels and I do like all things macabre so I had really high hopes for this one. Did it live up to them? ... Sort of.

Lane has always had dark thoughts, for as long as she can remember. She's obsessed with serial killers, death and murder...only now she thinks she might want in on it herself. She has a compulsion to kill which has slowly been getting out of control and now she's not sure how much longer she can keep it in for.

So, I think it's pretty clear that Lane is a flawed character. Girl daydreams about killing people so she's not exactly an angel. However, she is kind to her family, intelligent and shocks herself by opening herself up to love. Despite her detached, cold nature I actually found myself warming to Lane throughout the novel. Hearing her doubts and worries about her compulsions really helped bring her alive as a character and, well, she's much more Dexter than Ted Bundy so that's a plus, right?

A serial killer (known as 'the Decapitator'...nice) is loose in Lane's hometown and it's when she receives direct contact from the killer that the story really begins. How much does Lane really know about her past? Bits and pieces are missing and the Decapitator seems to know a whole lot about Lane, so our heroine begins to realise she needs to track down the Decapitator before something happens to her, or worse, her family.

I really enjoyed Killer Instinct and found myself completely pulled into the mystery surrounding Lane and the Decapitator. Little clues are scattered throughout the novel and by the time we reached the final chapters I was convinced I knew exactly who was behind the murders. I was wrong, of course, as I almost always am, but it's always fun trying to solve a mystery!

Until the last fifteen pages or so I'd have rated Killer Instinct as one of my top reads of the year, as I loved reading about Lane's battle with her own demons, which was really well-handled. Unfortunately I wasn't a fan of the book's denouement, so things went downhill for me at the end. I think a lot of people will probably really like the final pages but it just fell really flat for me, especially after the tension that had been building and building through the book. I felt completely invested in the story but as soon as the Decapitator's identity was revealed it just felt a little...bland. 

It's a shame, because I really loved the book up until that point, but I can't rave about this one as much as I want to. Lane is a great character and it's such an interesting concept, I just don't think the ending was as well-executed as the rest of the book and it did feel quite rushed. So, 90% = great, 10% = not so much...but I guess that's the way round you want those percentages, right?

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