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264 of 287 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect comedy meets perfect horror
If you blended the works of Lovecraft and Kevin Smith, then mixed that with about three parts pure awesome and left it to grow behind your fridge, you might get a vague sense of the genre David Wong bullseyes with this book. It's funny enough to appeal even to non-fans of the horror genre, yet scary enough to stay with you for a long time. It's the sort of book that can...
Published on September 17, 2007 by Lee Gaiteri

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87 of 111 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings...
This book isn't great, but it isn't bad. For what it is--a sort of blogged penny dreadful--it's pretty good. As far as good literature goes... Not so much.

The horror aspect isn't really scary; I wouldn't personally call it horror because of that. More of a paranormal comedy, I guess. Even though a lot of the monsters sound ridiculous, at least they were...
Published on May 27, 2011 by Elizabeth Hamilton


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not an entirely stupid book, but..., January 2, 2013
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This review is from: John Dies at the End (Kindle Edition)
WTF did I just read? It is evident that this book derived from a bunch of short stories -- some written months and allegedly years apart. None of the stories are particularly clever, even if they are supposed to come off as a real-ish, firsthand account of the narrator's actual adventures. They sound more like they're being sloppily spit at you by some drunk dude at the bar who's had too much whiskey and is now coming up with a story as he tells it. The overarching plot tying these adventures together is so thin that you lose sight of it at times, an act made all the more easy by the distracting too-cool-for-everything writing. Plus, the title is entirely irrelevant, though you read the whole time waiting for it to become relevant, if only metaphorically or cleverly. But nope. Irrelevant. The twist before the end (involving the "inhabitant" of the tool shed) is pretty good, but then the end just drags on with pointless ramblings about an awkward love story, a tediously described basketball game that leads to not saving another world, and an underwhelming twist on a Sixth Sense style twist. When I got to the last page, I was like "That's it? Hmm. I guess that's that." It was like the show LOST, in that a LOT of absurd, yet still interesting s*** happened, and you expect it to really come together in a masterful ending, but instead are left with a grandiose pile of whatever-ness.

I look forward to reading the sequel. What? I'm an optimist. It's like watching a bad show, and you think "Maybe this is the ep in which they'll really pull all of this s*** together."
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There is a giant centipede made of penises standing behind you., October 31, 2011
By 
Richard D. Stewart (Pittsburgh, PA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: John Dies at the End (Paperback)
No, okay, there isn't a penis centipede behind you. But if the idea makes you nervous/sounds clever, then this is the book for you.

It wasn't so much the book for me. It's amusing, and maybe if I was younger I would have gotten my mind blown by the alternate reality stuff, but I've been there too many times.

My main complaint is that this internet-serial-turned-novel needed an editor before it was compiled into book form. It seems too inconsistent and repetitive in its current form. There's also a kind of weirdness fatigue that sets in - Molly the dog is killed and resurrected so many times that I started to lose track of whether she was currently dead or alive, for example.

So, it's okay. But maybe you'd enjoy Neil Gaiman more.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Had promise, but disappointed, March 14, 2012
This review is from: John Dies at the End (Paperback)
I wanted to like this book. I really did. 50 or so pages in, I was enjoying it. By the end, I was more than ready to be done.

I've read the author on his website for some time, and generally enjoy his brand of humor, having grown up reading the magazine the website is named for.

That said, I did not enjoy the work as a whole. I'll try to tell you why, with as few spoilers as possible (until the end, see below).

I'm not opposed to blue humor. Far from it. But I'm also well past the age where bad words are funny just because you say them. There's way too much of that in this book. The author can be clever. I've seen it. There are passages here that are genuinely funny, but there are many many more instances where the author references male anatomy or some bodily function just for the sake of doing so. It made me roll my eyes or cringe, but not laugh. You might get the Superbad crowd with jokes like that, but they missed for me.

The book also has some parts that are genuinely scary. But again, more often than not, the author just cobbles together cartoon monsters that are neither funny nor scary, just gross for the sake of being gross. I understand the kind of book I'm reading, but still, it didn't work for me. True horror comes from suspense. There are glimpses in this book where the author does it reasonably well, bust most of the time, it's just gross-out schlock.

The storytelling was weak and disjointed, with almost no narrative flow whatsoever, especially in the middle of the book, where it drags. Several events just happen that have zero impact on the story or any of the characters. If these events were placed in the book to scare or generate a laugh, I could almost excuse their inclusion, but too often, they do neither, and only serve to increase the distance between the book's covers.

All that said, I did enjoy the reveal and the couple of twists toward the end, and the parts that are done well are done well enough that I would rate this book three, maybe three and a half stars, if it wasn't for one excerpt that really chaffed me. There are a few minor SPOILERS here, so if you're sensitive to that kind of thing, turn back now. At one point, the protagonist describes being bullied in high school. He then goes on to flat-out sympathize with the Columbine shooters, claiming the look on the jocks' faces would have been "sweet."

I was massively tempted to put the book down forever at that point. Maybe I should have. Bullying is a problem that we need to address in our youth today, but shooting up a school is never "sweet." Yeah, yeah, I know this is a horror/comedy, and we can't take it seriously. But this segment is not presented in a joking manner whatsoever. It's abundantly clear that the author is using his main character as a surrogate for his own views throughout nearly the entire passage. Again, I understand that this is a fictional work with fictional characters expressing fictional viewpoints, but I suspect there's more than one reason the author's pseudonym and protagonist bear the same name. Books, even books like this one, can also be used to say something to the audience, and that's exactly what the author was doing here. I found his message repulsive, and it ruined the rest of the work for me.

Only two stars from me, and I can't recommend this book to anyone.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cornucopia of humor, October 9, 2007
By 
Bret Jordan (Vidor, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: John Dies at the End (Paperback)
I picked up this book because it is my habit to pre-order Permuted Press' books as soon as they become available. Every one has been an excellent read, and John Dies at the End was no exception. I'm just sorry I didn't catch it earlier when it was online. Don't get me wrong, I would have still purchased it, but I would have had the opportunity to read it sooner. As some of the other reviewers have stated there is a touch of humor to each page, with some of the pages causing all out gaffaws! The horifying and humorous story reminds me of everything from Shaun of the Dead to the Ghost Busters to Dumb and Dumber. This is one unique and entertaining story that is loads of fun.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars about the book, September 6, 2007
This review is from: John Dies at the End (Paperback)
Every once in a long while, comes a book.
This is such a book.
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty much the best book I've ever read, September 5, 2007
This review is from: John Dies at the End (Paperback)
I mean, sure it doesn't have the one up on a book like A Clockwork Orange, but as far as simply fun reading goes, this pretty much beats out the competition. Hilarious and scary, the jokes keep flying and the horror keeps coming. The dynamic between John and Dave is what truly keeps the book rolling; they play off each other better than Abbot and Costello. David Wong is a fantastic writer, and I eagerly await more books from him in the future.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good writing and ideas also nonsensical and irritatingly unpolished, January 10, 2012
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This review is from: John Dies at the End (Paperback)
SOAPBOX PREAMBLE: Buyer beware. With John Dies at the End I was painfully reminded how Amazon reviews can be 'fixed' as easily as Mafia-sponsored Boxing matches in the 1930's. There is no way that the 5-star reviews are a honest sampling of readers. Rather, I suspect that since the book started out as a web serial it accrued a following of rabid fans eager to produce their own little internet sensation to "Like" on their Facebook pages. My final reaction ended up being very much like clicking a link to the YouTube Piano Cat video: "it's amusing, but how on earth did it get 21 million views?"

The imagination at work here is surprising and for the first third of the book I found myself carried along by the sheer delightful craziness of everything. Bouncing from cosmic horrors to slacker yucks-yucks and sprinkling in a bit of philosophy and even painful human experiences, the author keeps things interesting and playful and grim. It's simply a lot of fun.

Then, red flags started going up for me. All the chaos I was enjoying began breaking its own rules and revealed a splattered mess of ideas and images with no meaning. Instead of reading like a complete story, the book turns into a series of disconnected short-stories - at one point I was pulled fully out of my reading when I suspected that this was intended to be a comic book series - and while the author does try to pull it all together in the end, wrangling in the incoherence proves to be impossible.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I don't even know what happened, man., June 23, 2013
By 
C. Aleo (Rochester, NY) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: John Dies at the End (Kindle Edition)
JOHN DIES AT THE END may very well be the book I can't review. I have no idea what to say about it, nor what I feel about it.

Ostensibly, this is a horror book, if you are judging by the copious amounts of gore and flowing body fluids that abound. You could also say it's a bit of a sci-fi novel; after all, the idea is that the "soy sauce" is some sort of drug that allows access to another dimension. That's in the blurb, which makes about as much sense as the book does in that regard.

It took me longer to read JOHN DIES AT THE END because I was constantly torn between loving it and hating it, and I never could decide which it was. Was it brilliant? Possibly, but then the sheer amount of dick and fart jokes made me feel at times like I was talking to an 11-year-old boy (something I can assure you I'm an expert at doing). Sometimes the writing seemed genius, but at other times, it felt like an attempt to create an atmosphere others have done better: Victor LaVale's LUCRETIA AND THE KROONS, for example.

There's a sequel, but I'm unsure I want to read it. Part of me does, but the other part doesn't. In other words, this review is probably helpful to exactly no one, least of all me. I'm left shaking my head and wondering what on earth I just experienced.

This review appeared previously on Goodreads.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and original, but a bit long-winded, April 16, 2013
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This review is from: John Dies at the End (Paperback)
REVIEWED: John Dies at the End
WRITTEN BY: David Wong
PUBLISHED: December, 2012 (original limited release August, 2007)

I was looking for something "different" to read and I found it. John Dies at the End is a hilarious and fascinating take on two slackers who must save the world amidst a backdrop of drugs, aliens, monsters, demons, girls, minimum-wage bosses, and an unbelieving reporter. Totally inappropriate and sometimes immature jokes, but very funny for those with a warped sense of humor. I loved the originality of the book and the voice of the characters. The plot was awesome - just crazy and fast-paced - until about half way through. Then, it began to lull. That was my only problem with the book, is that it just seemed to go on for too long. It didn't drag, per se - the plot was always moving - but I just had a sense of a story which would never end; just one madcap adventure after the other. It's like sitting in front of a stand-up comedian hour after hour: for awhile, it's great and you're enjoying yourself. But chalk up five or six hours of the same guy's routine and you just want it to end. So, overall, good book and I recommend it, though it cut have been cut shorter.

Four out of Five stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, if flawed, March 1, 2012
By 
Mark Twain (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: John Dies at the End (Kindle Edition)
I've structured this review in a PROS/CONS format, with a final verdict afterwards. Where applicable, I will use [SPOILER][/SPOILER] tags. Throughout, I will abbreviate "John Dies at the End" as JDATE and I will refer to the author by his pseudonym, David Wong. If necessary, I will differentiate between the pseudonym David Wong and the character David Wong with either a (p) or (c) suffixing the name, although context should determine the differentiation.

PROS

Energetic Writing Style: While I wouldn't call Wong's writing style prolific, it certainly is inlaid with momentum and energy, leading JDATE to be one of those books where I kept saying, "just one more page, just one more chapter." The writing style makes sense given that JDATE was first released as a web serial, but I think it works (for the most part) for the full-length release. Rarely did I feel Wong was dragging his feet with description or details that needed to be edited out.

Wild Imagery: Whether or not you agree with me will likely depend on the genres you read the most, but I found much of Wong's imagery to be fresh and unique, with only the occasional over-the-top tidbit here or there. By using a casual, comedic tone, Wong is able to draw comparisons between the images in the story to facets of our everyday lives that a more "academic" writer might avoid.

Narration Voice: As mentioned above, the voice Wong uses is casual and comedic, with some healthy sarcasm and self-deprecation thrown in. In many ways it's a suitable voice for those of Wong's generation and for the off-the-wall story of JDATE, it's a perfect fit. After reading JDATE, you'll feel as if you know both Wong(c) and Wong(p) personally and I wouldn't be surprised to find that Wong's(p) personal communications have a very similar voice.

Twists: There are twists. I won't mention them here, but there are a good number of them. Considering how M. Night Shyamalan really neutered the idea of the twist, I was relieved to see Wong do a decent job with them. Thankfully the twists don't define the story and even without them, JDATE would be an enjoyable read.

CONS

Construction Overuse: About halfway through I began noticing a few sentence constructions used over and over -- certain similes constructions, double negatives spring to mind immediately. In a web serial format, this is excusable but I'm not sure how I feel about it in the full-length release. On the one hand, I like the idea of reading the original (although I'm sure some editing happened) but on the other, I think Wong missed an opportunity to tighten up his writing.

Sloppy Middle: From the halfway mark through the 80% mark or so, the story really began to drag. My motivation to keep turning pages shifted from the energetic writing to a desire to rediscover "the good stuff". And that's the problem -- some of Wong's best stuff is in the first leg of the story and it's *so* good that it makes later chapters look weak in comparison. Once again, I wonder if massive edits would've been appropriate or if some better approach to the partitioning of the story could've prevented comparing later chapters with earlier ones in an unfavorable way.

Twists: Yes, I mentioned 'Twists' as a PRO above but they were also a bit of a CON. Wong takes some healthy risks with his twists, but in doing so treads *very* closely to rewriting earlier parts of the story by using a "It really happened like this" type approach. I enjoyed the rest of the book so I'm able to excuse these revisionist twists, but other readers may find themselves frustrated by feeling like they aren't being told the entire story (a.k.a. What's the point of reading if it's essential a lie?).

[SPOILERS TO FOLLOW!]

Uneven Resolution: I wasn't crazy about the ending. It felt pretty flat and non-committal, not to mention that I kept expecting John to die. And, from what I can tell, he did not. Which either makes the book's title a playful joke (everyone does die... eventually) or a cheap trick. I'm still searching online for some other thoughts on this because I *want* to believe it's the former, but at the moment I'm feeling more of the latter. Beyond that though, the end of JDATE simply sputtered out without making good on the stakes raised throughout the story. My guess is that because Wong(p) is planning to write more, there wasn't a need for a full on ending but regardless, it was disappointing.

[/SPOILERS OVER!]

FINAL VERDICT

JDATE is a blend of comedy and horror (as is JDate, incidentally), though I did find that the comedy weakened the horror. That being said, the comedy is great (if somewhat immature at times) and while I didn't quite laugh out loud like other reviewers, I did snicker to myself quite a bit.

In general, I thought JDATE needed to be a little shorter. The energy and comedy would've had more impact and there wouldn't have been as much an issue with the plot dragging or the overuse of certain sentence constructions. That being said, I enjoyed it quite a bit regardless and would recommend it to others (if you're on the fence try a sample first). At best, you'll get a great, unique story and at worst you'll have supported a true indie project.
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John Dies at the End
John Dies at the End by David Wong
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