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John Cleaver #6

Nothing Left to Lose

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New York Times bestselling author Dan Wells continues his acclaimed John Wayne Cleaver series, popular with fans of Dexter

Hi. My name is John Cleaver, and I hunt monsters. I used to do it alone, and then for a while I did it with a team of government specialists, and then the monsters found us and killed almost everyone, and now I hunt them alone again.

This is my story.

In this thrilling installment in the John Wayne Cleaver series, Dan Wells brings his beloved antihero into a final confrontation with the Withered. Nothing Left to Lose is a conclusion that is both completely compelling and completely unexpected.

320 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 6, 2017

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About the author

Dan Wells

61 books5,659 followers
Dan Wells is a thriller and science fiction writer. Born in Utah, he spent his early years reading and writing. He is he author of the Partials series (Partials, Isolation, Fragments, and Ruins), the John Cleaver series (I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don't Want To Kill You), and a few others (The Hollow City, A Night of Blacker Darkness, etc). He was a Campbell nomine for best new writer, and has won a Hugo award for his work on the podcast Writing Excuses; the podcast is also a multiple winner of the Parsec Award.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 424 reviews
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,976 followers
March 30, 2018
Final installment. I, for one, am quite happy with the direction it took and the way it got resolved.

Full circle. John the normal sociopath has been building his conscious ethics across all these books and has made a virtue out of choice. Doing the right thing is not something that comes naturally, but having self-imposed limits means that he defines his world and himself in a way that the demons have categorically *not* been able to do.

Supernatural sociopaths are the closest thing he has to kinship with anyone, too. That was very clear in the previous book.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense that amid all the bloodshed and gruesome murders he feels the need to redefine his relationship with his greatest foes, focusing on choice, not revenge.

He doesn't feel things like normal people do. It only follows that he feels a kinship with the monsters.

That being said, I loved returning back to his hometown to finish the war with all the monsters. And things are dark. Very dark. It's the best feature of these novels.

Quite happy, I am! :)
Profile Image for Kathy.
165 reviews2 followers
June 9, 2017
Just read them all. You won't be disappointed.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 31 books5,632 followers
July 8, 2017
Yep. He did it. I know I shouldn't have doubted, but still. When you write a series about a sociopath fighting monsters, and you make the reader care about that sociopath, and actually about some of the monsters, you are painting yourself into a bit of a corner. How to end the series in a way that feels real, but isn't just devastating to the reader?

This. This is how. This is how you end a series that pulls no punches, that gets super dark, in a way that is satisfying and honest, without being so depressing that the reader can never feel joy again.

And now, for your disclaimer: Do I love this series? So much. Do I recommend this series? Yeee-ess? They are horror. Dead bodies are described in detail, both because of murders and because John works in a mortuary. If descriptions of either dismemberment or embalming techniques bother you, DO NOT READ THIS. I have read the entire series, and I own most of them. But, as I've told Dan, I get all his books from the library first, because I'm not sure if I can have them in my house permanently. Mr. Monster cannot live in my house. Neither can The Hollow City (which is a stand alone, and a psychological thriller that freaked me RIGHT OUT). So that's your disclaimer!
Profile Image for Meli.
618 reviews400 followers
June 6, 2019
Amé la evolución de esta saga. La amé. A simple vista, y yo misma pequé de ello, parece que los libros van restando intensidad a medida que la saga avanza, pero no es así. En retrospectiva, el trabajo emocional y psicológico es grandioso, y si parecen más tranquilos los libros, es porque esta faceta le gana terreno a la violencia a medida que John comienza a plantearse si realmente la maldad es propia de los Withered y la bondad de los humanos o si hay un término medio. Una evolución y una madurez genial.
Profile Image for Claudie ☾.
547 reviews138 followers
April 29, 2021
4.5 stars

I wouldn’t call that ending disappointing per se, but it was a little abrupt and left too many loose ends for my liking… Still, I had so much fun with this series, and I recommend it to all the fans of paranormal thriller/mystery, and intelligent, introspective MCs. John is without a doubt one of the most interesting characters I’ve had the pleasure to ‘meet.’
Profile Image for Emily Randolph-Epstein.
286 reviews8 followers
June 7, 2017
The John Cleaver books are one of the few binge-able series I've read. I plowed through the first five books in five days and have been waiting with baited breath to read the sixth - and final - book in the series. I was not disappointed.

Without getting into spoilers, Nothing Left to Lose builds on the previous books and brings John Cleaver's character arc to a satisfying place. Every word in this book kept me hooked to the page. My only complaint is that it's over.
Profile Image for James DeSantis.
Author 19 books1,126 followers
October 4, 2017
John John John...we've come to the end....again!

So John Clever is a killer. Except he takes down withers. They are supernatural beast that are amongst us, gods, and they are slowly dwindling thanks to Mr. John Cleaver. A little bit of a mix of Dexter meets Supernatural young John Clever goes into his final mission to stop them all.

The last volume really focuses on John figuring out his purpose. He knows there's only a few withers left and he plans to finish it. He visits a old town, meets a nice young lady, and begins his hunt. With twist and turns it leads to the final confrontation we've been waiting for. Will John live? Will he die? It all comes down to this.

Good: The dialog between John and Harris is easily the best part of the book. Them trying to figure out the way to solve their current issue of killing the rest of the withers is great. I also liked John and his investigation that keeps the pace going steady. The ending is sweet even if a little "too" easy.

Bad: The FBI are kind of fucking retarded in this and the ending makes no sense tbh. I also thought the ending was very rushed and felt kind of empty.

Overall I liked this one but it was one of the weaker ones. Still, it ended the series which was bumpy in the second half anyway. I still like John a lot though and wouldn't mind a series 10 years in the future with new withers.
Profile Image for Melissa.
1,233 reviews75 followers
August 11, 2019
Wow. This series has been...I don't know how to describe it exactly. Nerve racking, exciting, disturbing, heartbreaking, scary, sweet, funny, startling. There are so many ways to describe this series, and the best I can say is, the SERIES is 5 FULL stars. I was drawn in by book 1, I Am Not a Serial Killer; John Wayne Cleaver is a compelling character who I will never forget. I will be re-listening to this series. Yes, I did all 6 books on audio and the narrator stayed the same (which yay) and it was great. Aside from the shouting, literal shouting that was jarring and made me jump, I loved it and highly recommend you do the series in audio if you can. I don't know if you will get the same impact to John and the action if you just read the words on the page.

As for Nothing Left to Lose, this is the final installment and sadly it's shorter than the rest. I wasn't happy to see that but in the end I guess everything that needed to happen happened. I will say this one ends on a tidy note. I wasn't sure what John's life would be because he IS a serial killer, who just hasn't killed (a human being). He has rules he follows and those stop him from hurting people. When he discovered that a "demon" lived next door to him in the first book, John found a safe outlet for his urges. Killing a demon isn't the same as killing a human being and he could let lose. Which is why I wasn't sure how the series would end. I was afraid John would die, and I will tell you right now, that doesn't happen. I didn't want him to die; I wanted him to live a good life. As good as a serial killer who hasn't killed could live. With all that has happened in the six book series, John has been put thru a lot, been tested and tested and his rules were bent, broken and flat out destroyed at times, but in the end he pulled thru.

The ending to Nothing Left to Lose isn't exactly how I thought it would go.

I can't wait for the chance to re-listen to this series. I don't know when that will be but it will happen one day. Dan Wells crafted a wonderful, unique tale, and I highly recommend it. There are parts that almost made me stop listening, but I pushed thru it. It wasn't easy but I did it, and I am glad I did. Sometimes a serial killer is the hero of the story.
Profile Image for Adysnewbox.
660 reviews5 followers
August 13, 2017
Oh, the mixed feelings!! First things first: I am sad that John Cleaver's journey has ended. He's a fascinating character and I have enjoyed following him on his (dark, tortured) adventures. In fact, I would go so far as to say John is one of the more unique, compelling fictional characters I have read in recent memory. He's a deeply flawed, difficult character, but one whose self-awareness and determined struggle against himself make the reader cheer for him all the same. I have also enjoyed the genre-bending nature of his stories; it starts as a fairly grounded suspense/thriller story, but over time it has become more and more filled with supernatural horror elements. For the most part, these elements blend together quite well, and make for great, page-turning stories.

Now for more of the "mixed feelings" part (some of this will probably have to be spoiler-tagged): although I am happy to have more John Cleaver in my life, this "follow-up" trilogy of his books has been a bit underwhelming at times. "Devil's Only Friend" was a great beginning; after that, the last two books have meandered, seemingly not sure of where their story is going, or what they are trying to say about John. "Over Your Dead Body" was the biggest offender in this regard, as it was a road trip without end or destination (despite some cool character work). Even on the character front, I've felt that John himself has acted more and more "out of character" throughout this current series, as he morphs into more of a standard "rugged hero" type with a lot less inner anguish or dark yearnings. This seems to peak in "Nothing Left to Lose," the final volume of this trilogy; the ending feels out of tune or unearned, based on what we know of John.

"Nothing Left to Lose" was an improvement in plotting over the previous novel; maybe I just prefer these books when John is rooted to one spot, solving one specific Withered case at a time? Anyway, this novel takes place entirely in one small town in Arizona, where (wait for it) a series of mysterious deaths have struck the populace. The cops are puzzled, everyone is nervous, and John sees potential Withered everywhere. Now that I am typing it all out, I am realizing how derivative the plot is; it's just Clayton redux! Well, if the formula works, I guess it's okay to not fiddle with it. This town, unlike any in this new John Cleaver trilogy, is more fleshed out, populated with a wide variety of colorful characters; it's easier to get invested in the mystery when the well-being of likable characters is at stake (again, just my opinion).

So, the set-up is pretty solid, if unoriginal; John has a few random encounters that are suitably creepy and put the reader into a state of suspense: Who is responsible for the killings? Why are people behaving so strangely? What are these Withered capable of? What will John have to overcome in order to finish off these Withered? So far, so good. In the last third of the book, though, things start to go off the rails a bit, and left me unsatisfied at the end...

Despite my grousing, I still have to give "Nothing Left to Lose" a positive review. It had many of the things I love in a John Cleaver novel: suspense, mystery, metaphor, sociopathy, tense scenes in a morgue, family drama, random weirdness, and social awkwardness. Despite my misgivings about the book's (tone-deaf) ending, it wasn't enough to ruin the book for me.

I'll miss you John; thanks for the great ride.
Profile Image for Maggie Gordon.
1,896 reviews133 followers
July 12, 2017
Oh, this hurts. This HURTS. I have adored the John Cleaver books, and I was quite into Nothing Left to Lose up until the end. This is the sixth and final book in this duo of trilogies about a teenage sociopath who hunts demonic monsters. John has finally tracked down the remaining Withered and now he needs to deal with them before the FBI descends on him.

So what went wrong? All throughout the series, John has struggled to make intimate connections with people. He fantasizes about killing others. He has rules to prevent him from giving into his impulses. These were things that drove the series and... disappeared in this last volume. John did not feel like John.

Profile Image for Jennifer Frye.
256 reviews44 followers
August 3, 2017
Unfortunately, this was a disappointment. While it was a quick read that kept me engaged, it was missing many of the elements of John's personality that initially got me hooked on the series. In the earlier books it was fascinating to watch John struggle with his serial killer tendencies, but in this installment he was more or less an empty shell. I understand that characters evolve, but it's unfortunate that John evolved to be so.....boring.
Profile Image for Ulises  Estrada.
291 reviews27 followers
October 11, 2019

Voy a extrañar leer a John y el mundo que Dan Wells creo;Si no le doy las 5 estrellas es porque me he quedado con ganas de ver un rencuentro en particular,es decir entiendo por que no ocurre pero vamos podria haber escrito un epilogo,no es que el final o la historia en si no me gustara, si lo hizo pero me quede con ganas de mas,no puedo creer que se acabo.
Profile Image for Adam Woods.
290 reviews9 followers
October 18, 2017
It was fun spending time with John Cleaver one last time. I'm sorry to see the series end, but it was the right place for it to end.
Profile Image for Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl.
1,079 reviews144 followers
August 4, 2022
Unfortunately, I found Nothing Left to Lose to be the weakest installment in the John Wayne Cleaver Series. Super unfortunate, following Over Your Dead Body, which was my personal favorite.

Favorite Passages:

There are only so many ways to get a good look at a dead body.
You can always just make your own, of course, which is what most people do. It's quick, it's cheap, and you can do it with things you have lying around your own home: a hammer, a kitchen knife, a relative who won't shut up, and bam. Your very own corpse. As DIY projects go, murder is easier and more common than painting your living room, though - to be fair - significantly harder to hide.

All-consuming obsessions have their perks.

"Do you remember wonder?" he asked.
"Awe," he said. "Joy. Surprise." He poked at his sandwich but didn't pick it up. "Do you remember the last time you saw something for the first time? The first time you saw the ocean, or ate a spicy pepper, or kissed someone? The first time you heard a wolf pack howling in the dark . . . ?"

"A hamburger is not a sandwich," said Al!sha, "it's a burger."
"Ignore them," said Parker to Shelby. "I don't even know why I spend time with them. They're terrible people."
"A hamburger is totally a sandwich." said Nate.
"A hamburger is not on par with 'club' and 'Reuben' as sandwich types," said Al!sha. "It's a category, just like sandwich - but it's not a sandwich."
. . . . .
"A hot dog is totally a sandwich," said Nate.
"If anything," said Jasmyn, "a hot dog is a taco, because the two pieces of bun are connected." She drew a giant circle in the air. "And now we're back to the beginning, and I just blew your minds."

"Everyone I've ever killed has dissolved into sludge," I said. "So I'm either innocent or I'm deeply psychotic."

"You found me by accident, but you still found me. Because you put yourself in the right place to have the accident you needed."

"I'm mostly just here to figure out how to kill you."

"The hunter is home from the hill."

"Weigh the costs against the gains: give up your hate, or whatever you decide to part with, and you'll receive not just power, but immortality. I am ten thousand years old. I've read more books that you've ever known existed; I've talked to more people, seen more places, eaten more food, and lived more lives that you can possibly comprehend. I've watched the sun rise over the most distant reaches of the globe, and set again behind cityscapes so bright and alive they replaced the stars. And all you have to do to get that is to give up something you're not even using anyway."

"She has nothing in her head but chaos."

Her thoughts entered mine like dragons in a medieval village, ancient and overwhelming, bringing destruction even where it wasn't intended; I felt memories and emotions and even reason corroding at her mental touch, toppled as casually as a wooden hut caught by the flip of a great, forked tail.
"Let go of my mind," I shouted.

It was a hieroglyph, or a pictogram, or something even more primitive; it was a trail marker, flat stones stacked up to show where one hunter had passed before, so that another could follow behind. Slashes cut into a tree. I looked at my own arm, sliced with four neat lines by one killer, and raked with a chaos of scratches by another. Ancient carvings, to mark the path.

"Stay away from me, I guess."
"Is that a threat?" asked Harris.
"It's a weather report," said Dana, and sighed. "No pun intended."
Profile Image for Miguel Alvarado.
160 reviews3 followers
November 2, 2019
No puedo estar más feliz, es un excelente final para una saga que me emocionó en cada una de sus entregas; VRYA no tenía idea de cuánto deseaba que publicarán esta sexta parte. Que puedo decir de las portadas, las 6 son maravillosas creadas por Marcelo Orsi y por Santiago Caruso. John siempre me sorprendió en cada uno de los libros y en el último se notó su crecimiento personal y emocional, sí, emocional. El relato extra me encantó, leer un poco más sobre Elijah Sexton, personaje por el que sufrí, fue un gran toque. Es una saga que realmente recomiendo.
Profile Image for Amar.
391 reviews
August 14, 2021
Kako pokvariti odličan serijal 101:
Dobar dan. Dobrodošli na prvi sat kreativnog pisanja kako pokvariti odličan serijal zadnjom knjigom u serijalu. Jednostavno! Izmislite jednog lika, lijepo ga predstavite u glavi, sa osnovnim osobnostima da bi se razvijao kroz serijal... Imate ga? Odlično! Evo ja ću uzeti mladog momka koji ima psihičkih problema, sa blagim naklonom prema serijskim ubicama. Dodat ću demone u priči da mogu opravdati taj njegov nagon da i sam ubija. Zatim ga razvijajte kroz 5 knjiga, dodajite demone sa raznim moćima, neka ih redom ubija i neka dobije onu ličnost zbog kojeg će ga čitaoci voliti. Eh sad, kada ste na zadnjoj knjizi u serijalu sve što ste pisali o njemu, svu ličnost koju ste mu zadali i zadatak na kojeg ste ga poslali jednostavno bacite u vodu i završite serijal na najgluplji način koji možete zamisliti. Uspjeli? Odlično! To je sve za danas, vidimo se sljedeće sedmice na novom satu.

Stvarno volim ovaj serijal, John mi je stvarno prirastao srcu, ali ovakav kraj jednostavno ne paše uz cijelu priču. Način, kako je Wells završio serijal pokazuje da čovjek izgleda bio forsiran da produži serijal i da poslije 3. knjige nije imao ideju kako da završi priču. AKo planirate ovaj serijal, jednostavno stanite poslije 3. knjige. Ne vrijedi ni zbog petog dijela nastaviti.
Sorry Mr. Wells, ali meni se nije dopalo.

Profile Image for Gina.
1,768 reviews57 followers
August 15, 2017
As a whole, Wells' John Cleaver series is one of the best, most original, binge-worthy I've read in a long time. Six books in total, it reads like two separate trilogies with this as a wrap up to them both. With my 4 and 5 star ratings on all the previous books, I wanted to love this one. I expected to love it. My problems with it are entirely plot driven: You can't have a series about a young, sociopath, serial killer who kills "demons" end in a happy hug. It just doesn't work. Or, if you are going to end the series that way, then you have to write the book in a way that it makes perfect sense. The 320 pages of this one weren't adequate for me to buy the happy ending - not after the previous 5 books. The characters of John, the FBI, the Withered were set up in one direction for 5 books. Then, in book 6, everyone just changes their minds and it ends on a happy hug? What?

I still think this is a great series. Even though I didn't buy in to the ending, I didn't hate it.
Profile Image for Chip.
805 reviews40 followers
October 16, 2017
2.5 stars. Unfortunately, the worst in, and a very weak ending to, the series. Perhaps Wells wrote himself into a corner - but he really seemed to shift gears (and retcon some elements) here that didn't mess well with what had gone before.
Profile Image for Devann.
2,434 reviews134 followers
April 23, 2019
I definitely think this last installment in the series is the best one since the first [another thing this has in common with the Dexter series, at least for me personally]. I think there's a kind of symmetry to the first part of the book because John started this journey alone and now he has separated from his friends and family and the FBI and is working alone again to try to end everything. However, it doesn't stay that way moving into the second part of the book. Overall it was a pretty good series, even though it definitely had its ups and down.
Profile Image for Miss Bookiverse.
1,931 reviews73 followers
July 18, 2017
Pretty disappointing conclusion. All in all, this second trilogy wasn't really necessary, it kind of ruined the uniqueness of the first 3 books. What bothered me the most was the writing style. I'm not sure if it got worse over time or if I only just noticed its flaws, but the writing is so descriptive and explanatory, it's down-right annoying and prevents any real storytelling from happening. Everything is explained to me, I'm not allowed to think for myself at all. Also, everything just conveniently happens to move the story forward, it doesn't feel natural. And all of John's inner conflict about his sociopathy and the urge to kill people seems to have disappeared. His mental struggles were what drew me to the books in the first place. I did like the ending and how things resolved with the Withered but the journey wasn't worth it. Even though I enjoyed reading this volume more than the previous one I'm rating it lower because it was a let-down as a series finale.

Stick with the the initial trilogy instead!
Profile Image for Vero Sisa.
203 reviews29 followers
October 31, 2022
Septiembre 2020

Si. El final un poco abrupto, pero no deja de gustarme el libro y menos la saga.

Aunque durante todos los libros el tema del autocontrol está latente es en éste donde se habla más de ello. Porque es sencillo escudarse en la propia naturaleza, hacer cualquier cosa y fingir demencia. Lo difícil -pero posible- y necesario es trabajar en uno mismo.

Pienso que eso es lo que el autor quiere transmitir. A través de una historia que te atrapa desde el principio y de la que definitivamente disfrutarás y aprenderás.

¿Recomendada? 100%

Relectura octubre 2022

Definitivamente todo pasa muy rápido y precisamente por eso la lectura es muy ágil. Todo se resuelve muy deprisa pero me gusta este final de John, que es más bien un nuevo comienzo...
Profile Image for Deborah.
Author 11 books21 followers
June 8, 2017
Brilliant. A perfectly satisfying conclusion.
Profile Image for Cecilia.
277 reviews252 followers
April 3, 2020
Extrañaré a John Cleaver, siento me falto más historia para que el final sea mejor! Igual me quedo con nostalgia, ya que la saga termino 😔
Profile Image for Travis.
716 reviews7 followers
April 15, 2018
WHAT A RIDE!!!! The John Cleave series was fantastic! I am so glad that I decided to pick up this series because it was such an unexpected joyride! Nothing Left To Lose was an amazing ride that tied up John's story quite nicely. The ending was like a perfect, actually too perfect close. I wanted more of a BANG but what I got was a bang. I liked how it was wrapped up everything and I think for John it was absolutely needed but after everything that he went through it just seemed to good to be true. That is probably my only qualm really for this book though. I like that we got a more in depth view on the Withered and how they tick. It really makes you think about life in a way. I mean is it really worth it to give up one emotion to live forever. I feel like we would all say yes possibly but our emotions are what make us human. I for one love who I am and I don't think I would be who I am today if I didn't have all my emotions. John Cleaver thank your entering my life and I am sad to see this series come to an end because it was riveting!!

I Am Not A Serial Killer-5/5
Mr. Monster-5/5
I Don't Want To Kill You-4/5
The Devil's Only Friend-5/5
Over Your Dead Body-5/5
Nothing Left To Lose-4/5

John Cleaver Series-28/30
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