I read this a while ago and didn’t write down all of my thoughts so apologies if this is a bit vague … here we go!
Title: John Dies at the End
Author: David Wong (Jason Pargin)
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Page #: 384
Genre: Humor, Horror (I know right?)
As I was sitting here trying to think of how to word this review, I figured I should start by saying that I liked this book, in fact I liked it more than I thought I would and I thought I would like it because I asked for it specifically at Christmas. So … good? Did that make sense. It exceeded already high expectations even if it had approximately three more fart jokes than I can usually stomach in a work of fiction.
The next thing I want to discuss is the pseudonym/author deal. The author of the book David Wong is also the main character and narrator of the book. It makes sense it is meant to be read as an impossibly true dark humor/horror novel. The real author is Jason Pargin who you might recognize as the editor in chief of Cracked.com. Yeah, him. He definitely has a handle on humor and while I really enjoy horror and I can see and understand why this book is classified as horror, it was not particularly scary for me. That being said, it was definitely creepy and gorey.
Now on to the book itself. I think the thing that drew me most to wanting to read the book was the back. It starts off with “STOP. You should not have touched this book with your bare hands. NO, don’t put it down. It’s too late.” I always like when a book breaks the fourth wall a bit. This book is written in a similar manner as The Name of the Wind, structure wise not language or tone wise. The majority of the book is told as David tells his story to a reporter so there are breaks in the story where we return to present day and we learn things about the future in those cases that we might not know if it was merely told chronologically (See what I meant about that comparison now?). I think that this structure really helped this story along. It gives you clues and allows for some skepticism in David’s story. He is also able to comment on the things that happened rather than allowing them merely to happen, (which is where most of the humor comes in).
The plot itself was extremely engaging for me. It is structured around the idea that all of the weird supernatural things you see out of the corner of you eye one minute and are gone the next and those feelings of being watched when no one is there are real, monsters, ghosts, anything else that you can think of. All of it is real, you just have to open your mind to it. Plus there is the sauce which makes you, in a way, part of the whole thing. I don’t want to say much else because most of the fun of this book is trying to figure out what the hell is going on, then giving up, then thinking that maybe you were too hasty to give up and try some more. You need to go where this book takes you and enjoy the ride.
The characters in this novel were entirely entertaining. They are sarcastic, sadistic, insane, and charismatic in their own way. David and John are characters that you both want to slap across the face and listen to for hours. I enjoyed their story wholeheartedly and their personalities only made it better. Their dialogue is filled with witty banter and jokes that made me smile. You will feel bad when they are in danger but sigh when they get side tracked by something seemingly unimportant. They are strong personalities that are well fleshed out and dynamic. Though I am not sure how much character growth they go through during the course of the novel other than realizing what is going on around them.
All in all, I really enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the particular breed of science fiction that involves multiple planes of existence created by time streams and involve extra-planar beasts. It is also great for people who might not like reading so much because my step dad picked it up while my Mom was wrapping presents and began reading it and didn’t stopped until she needed to wrap it. It has a compelling narrative and a fast paced plot that should keep anybody interested.
I will hopefully have a Kpop post for you guys on Friday. Ooooh fancy, and I might discuss a little more about my endeavors to learn Korean for next Monday … fun, fun, fun. I will talk to you guys soon remember, as long as you can hear the Pied Piper, you are safe.