Review: Murderland: H8

Serial killers are pretty fascinating.  There are plenty of maniacal murderers both in real life and in fiction, and yes, they seem to capture something about our culture and society.  They’re complex anti-heroes and we idolize them for that.  But much like vampires, the serial killer archetype can become clichéd and boring.

Then there’s Murderland, a little book that’s far better than it has any right to be.  Garrett Cook is fascinated by serial killers, but it’s not enough to just tell a story about one of his own creation.  In this story, Cook creates an entire dystopian culture based on the idolatry of serial killers.  Jack the Ripper and Ed Gein are looked upon as saints.  Modern day “reapers”, as they’re called, are the ultimate celebrities now.  They’re like movie stars, rock stars, and pro-athletes combined.  Every bit of morbid fascination that we have towards them is laid bare, but for Cook, this isn’t enough.

The story centers on Jeremy Jenkins, a sympathetic everyman who is also a serial killer operating in this weird culture (naturally, he kills famous reapers, so we’re already cheering for him).  That’s where the cliché ends.  In a world where killing is acceptable, Jeremy doesn’t take pleasure in his work.  In a world where killers are celebrities and their exploits are tallied on a scoreboard, Jeremy doesn’t want his work to be recognized.  In a world where it’s cool to be a murderous psychopath, Jeremy is tortured by his delusions, and it doesn’t make him cool.  And despite his vigilante work, Jeremy’s regular M.O. has him killing innocent women and doing terrible things to their bodies.  This guy is so insane that it’s genuinely scary.  Remember, kids, the craziest people out there are the ones trying their best to be normal.  The people pretending to be crazy are just douches.

Garrett Cook has created something very clever.  He’s turned the typical serial killer story on its head, then flipped it around a few more times for good measure.  The adoration of the Reapers is obscene, yet we can’t help but root for Jeremy himself.  The reap-fashion is cool and the methods of murder are very creative, but Cook is quick to remind us that every victim is a real human being, killed for sport by an utter lunatic.  Garrett Cook shows us a morally compromised dystopia and doesn’t allow us any easy answers.  Murderland seems to be the first part of a series about Jeremy Jenkins, and I truly look forward to reading more.

Get it here:


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