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John Dies at the End Paperback – September 14, 2010

1,180 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this reissue of an Internet phenomenon originally slapped between two covers in 2007 by indie Permutus Press, Wong—Cracked.com editor Jason Pargin's alter ego—adroitly spoofs the horror genre while simultaneously offering up a genuinely horrifying story. The terror is rooted in a substance known as soy sauce, a paranormal psychoactive that opens video store clerk Wong's—and his penis-obsessed friend John's—minds to higher levels of consciousness. Or is it just hell seeping into the unnamed Midwestern town where Wong and the others live? Meat monsters, wig-wearing scorpion aberrations and wingless white flies that burrow into human skin threaten to kill Wong and his crew before infesting the rest of the world. A multidimensional plot unfolds as the unlikely heroes drink lots of beer and battle the paradoxes of time and space, as well as the clichés of first-person-shooter video games and fantasy gore films. Sure to please the Fangoria set while appealing to a wider audience, the book's smart take on fear manages to tap into readers' existential dread on one page, then have them laughing the next. (Oct.)
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Review

John Dies at the End…[is] a case of the author trying to depict actual, soul-sucking lunacy, and succeeding with flying colors. (Fangoria)

David Wong is like a mash-up of Douglas Adams and Stephen King . . . 'page-turner' is an understatement. (Don Coscarelli, director, Phantasm I–V and Bubba Ho-tep)

David Wong has managed to write that rarest of things---a genuinely scary story. (David Wellington, author of Monster Island and Vampire Zero)

The rare genre novel that manages to keep its sense of humor strong without ever diminishing the scares. (The Onion AV Club)

Sure to please the Fangoria set while appealing to a wider audience, the book's smart take on fear manages to tap into readers' existential dread on one page, then have them laughing the next. (Publishers Weekly)

When it's funny, it's laugh-out-loud funny, yet when the situation calls for chills, it provides them in spades. (Kirkus Reviews)

The book takes every pop culture trend of the past twenty years, peppers it with 14-year-old dick and fart humor, and blends it all together with a huge heaping of splatterpunk gore…. Successfully blend[s] laugh-out-loud humor with legitimate horror. (i09.com)

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Product Details

  • Series: John Dies at the End (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312659148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312659141
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,180 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #217,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

280 of 306 people found the following review helpful By Lee Gaiteri on September 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
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 raise specters so horrible you tell yourself you couldn't ever have imagined them, yet it keeps your faith in humanity alive with the way Dave and John (especially John) seem to casually flip off a barrage of unspeakable evil. In a book that opens fighting meat-ghosts with '80s glam rock, you know you're in for something special.

It's all about the soy sauce, a mysterious substance that "chooses" its takers and imbues them permanently with an ability to pick up on the doings of other dimensions. In the short term it can provide an insight into spacetime so profound as to tell them just where to go to get a large sum of cash, or how a chicken lived its life before becoming an entree. It's also the key to an invasion from the beyond, but it doesn't end there. The evil wants in, at any cost, and it's not above even cheap schoolyard-style bullying to get its way. Luckily, Dave and John know just how to handle that.

The bizarre thing about this book is that it is literally laugh-out-loud funny, but at the same time it's hide-under-the-bed scary. It is neither horror with comic relief nor comedy with a horror theme. It's both pure comedy and pure horror, two books coexisting in one, which should be impossible but somehow David Wong can pull it off. It kept me hooked right up to the end, for more reasons than just to find out how John dies.
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84 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Kris Saylor on September 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
Most everyone can identify with the narration of this book. It asks questions about the seemingly mundane and then provides you answers that delve into a creepy supernatural world. The situations are hilarious, the twists are unexpected, and the horror is perfect. All three combine to create a truly enjoyable tale about two unlikely heroes and their exploits in a supernatural infested hometown. Pick it up, read it, and love it. You will not regret it...and the velvet Jesus will love you for it.
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150 of 190 people found the following review helpful By J. Calandra on September 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book by up and coming horror/comedy writer David Wong is one of the scariest novels I've read in a very long time. It's not the sort of scary where you're actually scared while reading. Mostly you will be amused, entertained, and probably a bit surprised at parts. The real terror comes once you try to sleep the next night, and the night after, and the night after that and so forth. I haven't slept a full night in the years since I first read John Dies At The End and this is the reason the state took away my driver's license.
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94 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Hamilton on May 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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 creative and different from the typical werewolf/vampire stuff that seems to be plaguing stores. I liked David's tone; one thing I never got about first-person stories was that the narrator almost never talks like a real person--it's usually too well thought out to believe the person is talking to you. David definitely talks as if he's a real person. No fluff or overly thoughtful words... Just a lot of sarcasm and awkwardness.

The comedy... Was hit or miss. Several times I thought to myself that the book read like a 4chan thread because of how immature the jokes were. Some were funny, others were painful. If you like toilet humor, you'll probably enjoy this book. If you want something more sophisticated, you probably won't appreciate this much.

It was long. Too long. I don't have anything against novels being 400 pages, but JDatE seemed to drag on through parts. Some of the stuff could have been cut out or edited down when it was put into print. I do think that the story has potential to be good for the upcoming movie, though, so hopefully the director and screenwriters are able to take advantage of what is there without focusing too much on the superfluous parts.

If you want an easy read that has a sort of awkward, dirty sense of humor and a lot of WTF, you'll probably like this. If you want something deep and meaningful, you should probably look somewhere else.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Stantz on May 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If I were 16 again, this would be my favorite book.

That sounds like such a douchey comment, like, oh, now I'm an adult and I read "serious" literature, by guys who are only referred to by their last names, and I have no time for horror drivel.

Luckily, this isn't the case - I may be an adult, but I love all the horror drivel, good and bad, I can get my hands on. What I really mean is that, were I 16, I think I'd be a lot more likely to overlook the negatives of John Dies At The End in favor of all the good stuff.

And there is a lot of good stuff.

Above all, the book is insanely imaginative. So many fantastic monsters and creatures and creepy crawlies, so many fun worlds, and just when you think you've got it down, something comes along to completely surprise you.

John Dies At The End is also funny - really, really funny. Laugh out loud funny.

And the characters are simply fun to hang out with. Bill and Ted, Wayne and Garth, Dave and John. Anyone who doesn't enjoy spending a few hours with anyone on that list probably should stick to literature by guys who go by their last names.

The problems are in the storytelling. The book began as an installment penny dreadful sort of web ebook, and unfortunately, this continued into the final version. It's REALLY meandering and, worse, dragging. The first story is fine, but by story 2, you're really grasping for any sort of narrative direction to the whole thing, and by story 3...If I were reading on a weekly basis, it'd be fine, but something just kills it in a 400+ page book. Find a plot, go somewhere, make us feel like you're not just making this up as you go along.
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