Book Review: Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct
By: S.E. Green
Published by: Simon Pulse
Release date: May 6, 2014
Genre: YA thriller
272 pages
Source: ARC kindly provided by publisher

There is something absolutely compelling about this book that kept me reading until I had finished every page. I read it entirely in a day, and it held my interest without a problem. I think this is a strong statement about the author’s skill at writing suspense. Perhaps my disappointment with the conclusion is partially because, after having several hours reading the book, I felt that I deserved an amazing reveal. Instead, I got gore without a real resolution of the main character’s central question.

First, I don’t consider this book YA, even though the main character is a teen and it’s being marketed that way. This book won’t appeal to teens; this dark, lonely journey is adult content. It’s pitched as a book where a girl goes on a journey of self-discovery, yet the reader isn’t allowed to develop sympathy for the main character until far too late. I think teen readers will be disappointed that the book isn’t what they thought it would be, and won’t read far enough to see how the main character changes, so they will miss the point.

One of my main complaints about the book is that the plot is all over the place because the author goes to great lengths to throw the reader off the trail with plot twists, yet doesn’t resolve many of the loose ends. There was so much emphasis on the element of suspense that the plot structure withered. There were extraneous characters, relationships, and whole scenes that would have been best cut from the final draft, but seem to have been left simply to amp up the suspense.

The only characters in this book that the reader is allowed to emotionally connect to are a little boy who is a very minor character and a dog named Corn Chip. Otherwise, everyone in the book is kind of a jerk. The main character does merit sympathy, but the reader doesn’t discover that until a point in the book past where I predict many will stop reading. I wonder if this would work better if told in a different voice. Having a character disconnected from emotions as well as other people telling the story is a bold choice- one that, in my opinion, doesn’t pay off.


“A zippy, gripping psychological drama.” ~Kirkus Reviews

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...