Sunday, January 06, 2013

Book Review - John Dies @ the End by David Wong

John Dies @ the End
David Wong (Jason Pargin)
Trade Paperback
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: September 14, 2010
480 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0312659141


     John Dies @ the End is an amalgam of H. P. Lovecraft meets Richard Prior, Videodrome, Stephen King, the Matrix, Dane Cook, Cthulhu, Terry Pratchett, penis jokes, William S. Burroughs, men made out of cockroaches, Shaun of the Dead, flamethrowers, and Douglas Adams.
Dark comedy?
Comedic horror?
True story?
You be the judge…

     In various descriptions of John Dies @ the End I’ve heard it described as a mash up of various genres and different works by diverse artists, including some of those listed above. The reason for that is while the story is somewhat familiar reviewers have found it difficult to define or pigeonhole. It’s part Burroughs-esque, part Lovecraftian, part Stephen King-like, and part John Carpenter-ish with plenty of gore, some very funny scenes, a lot of sarcastic dialogue, and is peppered with irreverent, but hilarious, banter. Not to mention the fact that it contains elements of all my favorite genres. Plus, it has a bunch of penis jokes. And it’s been made into a movie by the same guy who brought us Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep. I really hope the motion picture translates as well as the novel. If it can then we’re in for one hell-hound, maggot-demon, man-made-out –of-cockroaches, exploding ride.

     An unusual drug with the street name “soy sauce” results in a very “bad” trip every time it’s ingested. It does all the normal, I mean bad, things hard narcotics do but the sauce also causes disorienting moments of delirium, shocking visions of clairvoyance, uncontrollable bouts of time-travel and time-loss, and eventually the splattering of blood, gore, and body parts across most of the pages of the book. Not to mention a whole lot of cussing. With John Dies @ the End David Wong, a pseudonym for Jason Pargin, has created a horror / science  fiction / mystery / alternate universe / time travel mash-up like none I’ve ever read before. Lovecraftian creatures from the “other” side are leaking out into our world and they’re not afraid to make it known that they intend to take over the world. By the way, humans will become slaves and will eventually be fed to their leader, a demon-insect-god named Korrok. David Wong and his friend John, an unlikely pair of heroes, are the few humans that can not only see and track the shadowy fiends crossing over into our world but are uniquely qualified to face them in battle – neither one has had a decent job in years which allows them a lot of free time and both know how to wield a baseball bat and a homemade flamethrower.

     The title John Dies @ the End is, at first glance, an epic spoiler but there are a lot of twists and turns here and because the setting involves an alternate universe, some wonky missing time, AND time travel anything can (and does) happen, so be careful not to take the title too literally. If you like a good penis joke (or even a bad one), splattering gore, half-shaved exploding dogs, flawed characters, hilarious dialogue, and the occasional demonic possession then this book is for you!

5 out of 5 stars

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

Additional Reading:

John Dies @ the End Web Page

John Dies @ the End IMDB Movie Page

John Dies @ the End Official Trailer

John Dies @ the End Wiki Page

David Wong @

David Wong Wiki Page

 John Dies @ the End Sequel “This Book Is Full of Spiders”

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