SPOILER WARNING: I talk about the ending of this book in-depth. If you’d like to read INSANITY for yourself, I suggest doing it before reading this.
INSANITY: JEFF THE KILLER is a 76 paged, published work of ‘original’ self-insert fanfiction written by Neesha Nickleson. It’s, clearly, based on the infamous Jeff the Killer Creepypasta. The middle half of the book copies the original story beat for beat with only a few minor changes.
For those you who don’t know, here’s a quick rundown. Jeffery Woods is a teenage boy who experiences a psychotic breakdown after being horrifically burned and beaten by a group of bullies. This ends in him killing his entire family, taking on the persona of Jeff the Killer, and becoming a brutally prolific serial killer. We’re off to a great start.
Everyone knows what fanfictions and creepypastas are, but if someone out there is unaware, fanfiction is a genre of online literature where fans, of anything really, write original fiction based heavily on or in the world of a particular show, movie, or book. Creepypastas are online horror stories, some are fantastic, others are below average.
Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to begin. Honestly, the plot of INSANITY can be summed up in a single sentence: Senseless violence that goes nowhere fast. The only thing of note about the plot of this book is the disturbing amount of murder and how romanticized it is. It’s genuinely concerning. The way murder is addressed and used makes the book seem more like a revenge murder fantasy than just an average, everyday bad, fanfiction. Granted, it’s about a serial killer, but that doesn’t really help with the murder fantasy feel. If you took out all the violence, the plot would be nonexistent.
The only reason a published book should have spelling or grammatical errors is if the book has been: 1) Written by someone who doesn’t speak English as a first language or naturally write in English, or 2) The book has been poorly translated into English. Those are the only reasons a published book should have spelling or grammatical mistakes. One or two mistakes are acceptable, because no one is perfect, but to have multiple errors is just lazy writing and editing.
Three times in this book there were random quotation marks in places they should not be, three times. ‘“Oh come on, it won’t be that bad.”’ Mallory grabbed Naomi by her shirt”’ Nickleson wrote on page three. Why is there a quotation mark after shirt? Is Mallory speaking in third person? No, this is simply a mistake on the author’s part, a mistake that is easily fixable. Not all errors/mistakes are actual mistakes, some are just poor writing technique. ‘I always get this feeling when something bad is about to happen. I got that feeling on the way to camp and something usually always does happen.’ Nickleson wrote on page one. While this isn’t technically a grammatical error, some simple rewording and revising/editing would’ve made the sentence less clunky and awkward. A lot in this book would’ve been fixed if there had been an actual editing process, and not just a once over.
Know what else needs more than a once over? Characters. Simply put, there are no actual characters in INSANITY. Every side character, every single one, either fades into irrelevancy or is killed off. Mallory is killed off twelve pages into the book. All of Naomi’s campmates are never heard from again. Randy is killed off nineteen pages after being introduced, and so on and so forth. By the end there’s only the main characters left. And even they’re not real characters, they’re archetypes and cliches thrown together and designed to resemble characters. Naomi is your typical self-insert Mary Sue and Jeff is your bad boy with a heart of gold, who’d never hurt his girl. While on the topic of Jeff and Naomi’s relationship, every interaction between these characters is stilted, awkward, and poorly written. The romance centered dialogue is especially bad, it’s actually hilarious just how uncomfortable their “flirting” is. ‘“I would love to see Liu, my mom, and my amazing girlfriend.” I said… “No need to as about your amazing girlfriend because I’m here.”’ Nickleson wrote on page 53. It’s terribly cheesy at best and horribly uncomfortable at worst.
But uncomfortable dialogue is nothing compared to the horror show that is the ending. Personally, I think the ending is the most appalling part of this whole book. A young boy, who witnessed Jeff and Naomi kill his parents, is giving a tearful recount of what he saw the night his parents died, on live television. When suddenly, Jeff and Naomi burst through the news room doors. This poor baby boy begins to panic, screaming for the reporter talking with him to run. Naomi, without hesitation, murders him while Jeff kills the reporter. This is absolutely without a doubt the most disgusting thing in this entire book. This poor, sweet, baby boy, he was written in just to be traumatized and murdered. It’s absolutely vile and personally offensive, the way every murder was handled was appalling, but this one in particular made my blood boil. Naomi is supposed to be our heroine, we root for her, but it’s really hard to support a monster who murders children on live television.
In conclusion, INSANITY: JEFF THE KILLER, is a bad book. It’s poorly written, unplanned, has virtually no plot, all on top of the more problematic issue of romanticizing and glorifying violence. Despite this, I recommend you read it. It’s an excellent example of what not to do when writing creatively and can be genuinely enjoyable if you read it with friends. And to all the aspiring writers out there, if you put in the time and effort you will definitely improve. Everyone starts out writing like this, but with practice you can improve your skills and become a better writer.