Darkly Dreaming Dexter

October 19, 2008
By CJ Zara BRONZE, Palatine, Illinois
CJ Zara BRONZE, Palatine, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

“People think its fun to pretend you’re a monster. Me, I spend my life pretending I'm not.”
A quote from the book Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, this seems to sum up the complex character that is Dexter Morgan. Due to a childhood trauma, Dexter becomes a sociopath with no feelings or conscience with violent urges dwelling within him. These urges are referred to as the “Dark Passenger”. The dark passenger is a form of his consciousness that seems to ride along in the back of his mind, that is, until the Dark Passenger begins to drive.

The very idea of writing a book told from the point of view of a serial killer is indeed a fascinating one. However, one ingenious detail makes this book so much more interesting and addicting to read: Dexter only kills serial killers. The fact that Dexter only kills “people who deserve it” is the central point of the plot. The story starts off with Dexter as an adult and his recollections tell the tale of his past. As a child, he was adopted by a Miami Police detective. Harry, Dexter’s adopted father, soon realizes his son’s unstable mind. Quickly realizing that his son’s urges can’t be suppressed, Harry went about making his son the perfect killer. He taught his son to be meticulous, thorough, and careful. Also, Harry helped Dexter make his mask. A mask to hide his true nature, he was taught how to fake emotions and human interaction. As Dexter says in the novel, “Many people fake emotions, I just fake all of them”.

Combining his chaotic emotions and his father’s teachings, he is able to create a mirror of a human life. His job at the Miami Police Department is both ironic and essential. As the blood spatter expert, his job often helps him locate serial killers. As the story goes on, an even more cunning killer starts terrorizing the city. Dexter finds that this killer has elevated his “art” to a higher level than his own. When his adopted sister, Deb, needs help to crack the case so she can become a detective, Dexter becomes torn between admiring the other killers work and helping his family. This conflict is one that will carry onto to the final pages. Readers will find that by the end of the story, it’s hard not to like Darkly Dreaming Dexter.

Most people believe that good books will make you think. In an interview, Lindsay said that he wondered if people would like a killer who killed bad people and that was how he started writing the series. This is the purpose of book Darkly Dreaming Dexter and the novel excels in this category. Halfway through the book, the reader tends to forget that the main character, Dexter, is in fact a horrible killer. That is the beauty of this book. The character totally turns your perception of right and wrong upside-down. As such, this book may not be the perfect read for everyone. The text itself is a pleasure to read. Driven by internal narration, I often found myself laughing out loud. The writing is very clever and has a childish ring to it with much alliteration. After Dexter found body parts in his fridge, he thought, “I suppose I should be upset, even feel violated, but I'm not. No, in fact, I think this is a friendly message, like "Hey, wanna play?" and yes I want to play. I really really do.”

To me an inexperienced writer and reader, this style of writing is almost impossible to describe. As much as some people may find Lindsay’s style quite interesting, others may find it confusing and hard to tell what is going on at some parts. Obviously, the intended audience for the book won’t include younger children because of the subject (such as when a severed head is thrown at Dexter’s car), but young adults and adults would enjoy this book immensely. Unlike many books that are very well written, this book doesn’t use large words or fancy sentence structure. So, weaker readers and stronger readers would both be content reading this book. The wide group of people who could read Darkly Dreaming Dexter is another one of the uncommon strong points not found in many other books.

The genre of this book is obviously fiction. However, it has many elements that make it not too unrealistic. One of the more prominent of these is how the author describes the city of Miami. A resident himself for over ten years, Jeff Lindsay paints a portrait the city very well and one can feel the whole vibe and feeling of the city and lifestyle. An example of this is the humorous description of how the “blood-thirsty driving” of Miamians makes Dexter feel like his violent urges are almost human. Also, the fact that Dexter kills killers raises a moral dilemma for him, the other characters that know, and even the reader. This may very well be the purpose for this story.

I began reading Darkly Dreaming Dexter for entertainment because I have heard of the TV show based on it, but while reading it I realized how profound the message was. Some of my thoughts on some issues have even been changed or altered. Of course, this book doesn’t make me want to go kill people, but the book does make one consider a whole other point of view. As stated above the book is also enjoyable to read. I would recommend this book to anyone except maybe younger kids as some scenes are quite gruesome. For entertainment or a thought provoking read, Darkly Dreaming Dexter is glorious, gory, goodness.

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