By Dan Wells

Tor, $11.99, 287 pages

A 15-year-old sociopath, John Wayne Cleaver, is working at getting back to normal after killing a demon to save his mother. Of course, normal for John is not like normal for other teenagers. Since the killing of the demon, John’s darker side, named “Mr. Monster,” has become louder in its desire for more blood and death. When a slew of new murders arise in the town, John struggles against his two-sided nature as he faces a new threat to himself and to the people of his town.

In the second installment of this series, Dan Wells continues John’s journey and gives a nuanced and sly portrayal of a young man fighting with himself over his desire to unleash his inner monster and his equally strong desire to think, feel, and ultimately be normal. John Cleaver as a character is simultaneously endearing, funny, awkward and terrifying and when he gives into his monstrous side, the consequences can be either devastating or heroic. The pace of the book lags a bit at times, but the character is interesting enough to keep the reader engaged. Fans of dark mysteries and thrillers will enjoy John and his Monster.

Reviewed by Barbara Cothern