280 of 306 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2007
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.
84 of 104 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2007
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.
150 of 190 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2007
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.
94 of 121 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2011
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.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2012
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.
For all the fun I was having, I really had to force myself not give up about halfway through, and that's ridiculous for all the positives the book offers. I don't know anything about the sequel, but I really really hope it's more structured than this, with, yet with all the reasons that made John Dies good.
Because then my 16 year old self and me could agree we'd found a new horror classic.
48 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2007
Try this experiment: Flip this book open to any random page and then start reading. No matter what page you've flipped to, there's going to be something hilariously funny on that page. Seriously.
Every damn page. The entire book is so overstuffed with comedy that you could choke a clown with it. Okay, so maybe you could choke a clown with most books. Forget about the clowns. My point is that this is an incredibly funny book.
There's a lot of other stuff going on besides the humor, including some very unsettling horror, interesting plot twists, etc., but it's the comedy that holds it all together. And that comedy is frickin' awesome.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
I don't know why this book has such immaculate reviews -- I think the author himself has a big cult following from the Cracked readership in which case it's really cool to see them all supporting him. Being a startup writer is hard and wish him the best of luck.
My personal preferences aside, this book is a fun/funny romp not unlike a Bruce Campbell movie written for a 9-15 year old crowd that includes a handful of Hitchhiker Guide to the Universe-esque silliness to it that keeps the book firmly in the Teen/Pre-Teen reader box in my opinion.
This is absolutely not The Stand, this is not a mature Stephen King book, there is no sex and the gore in it is straight forward teen-horror language... things like "the massive pustule burst and sprayed us with sickness" or something along those lines. Also it is not scary or suspenseful in the sense that Under the Dome or The Girl Next Door is -- that's adult-suspense I'd say, this would be 'suspensful and horrific' if you were 12 or something. But that isn't what makes the book charming, so it's not that big of a problem.
That being said there are strengths in this book:
* John, the main character's best friend is wonderfully written. He's the punchline guy in charge of all the humor and he delivers it excellently. I will continue to read further books in this series for no other reason than to enjoy John's company and one-liners.
* Even though the story stretches the limits of "ok, now I think you are just making stuff up", and regardless of how I feel about that, I still found myself amused and continuing to turn the pages... so I think that counts for something.
If you go into this thinking you are going to have a campy/silly adventure, I think you'll be very happy with the experience. If you read the hype about "gore" and "horrifying" on the cover or on the reviews online, that's marketing crap that gets you to buy it -- it worked on me -- and it's categorically not true. I've been more scared in a Dean Koontz book than this one -- but like I said above, there are other charming things about the book that make it a fun read. I just want you to know what you are getting.
I think a good way to summarize this would be to say, if you liked any of the following movies:
* Big Trouble in Little China
* Nightmare on Elm Street Series
* The Neverending Story
* The Goonies
* Evil Dead Series
You'll dig this book because it's fun/funny. If your kids are into those types of books I don't remember any part of the book that I found offensive except for some language.
Also the book is written to be part of a longer adventure/series, so if you like the characters you can continue to have fun with them as Wong writes more.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2009
Two years ago, a book blew me away so much it became my book of the year. That's not an easy thing for me to choose, usually, but that year it was. That book was Nick Harkaway's The Gone Away World. What made that book work so well was the humour, the weirdness, and the hook. I never honestly thought I'd read anything more like that again.
But I was wrong.
Enter: David Wong. He's had a cult following online for some time, and when you read his book, you can see why. He's an insane man. A deeply deranged, and possibly very disturbed man, but he's also a funny man - and I don't mean funny in that he has a weird walk, an eyepatch and a wonky elbow. Though, he might. I wouldn't know. I've never seen him.
But if I DID see him, then I imagine he's got a very wonky elbow.
He also has bleary eyes from too many illegal substances.
He HAS to. This kind of genius doesn't come naturally. If it does, we should tie him down, suck out all his blood and make a new drug to feed other writers, because the world needs this kind of imagination desperately.
John Dies at the End is, quite frankly, a rollercoaster of weirdness. How to describe it? It's like Douglas Adams woke up one morning and decided to track down William Burroughs. He had deep and meaningful sex with Will, the result of which was a bastard child who grew up overnight (thanks to some killer drugs Will fed it) and it fell through a whirly thing in space and time and ended up on top of one very-surprised looking Franz Kafka who was entertaining Edgar Poe, who were both forced into an unwilling union with this foul spawn, and once more this resulted in an evil offspring which was whisked off by daleks to become their god for a few years before abdicating its throne and exploring the jungles of the Amazon for a few years. Traumatised by a dread of insects as a result, this new offspring hid on an American gunship where it witnessed all sorts of ooooh nasty violence, and then it hitched to Texas, married Stephen King for two weeks before realising he was simply crap, and then heading out to Vegas where it met and did the nasty with the drummer from GWAR, and then downgraded to Warrant's roadies - producing another eerie little offsping. This crazed creature was named David Wong, and thus a hero was born.
All terribly simple, really.
I'm openly in awe of this book. It competes very heavily with Robert Rankin's Retromancer as the best thing I've read all year.
Plotwise, it's not simple. It's all over the place. It's basically three or four adventures locked together into a story disguised as the near-confessional history of David Wong as told to a reporter. Mister Wong has fought all manner of evil. He has fronted up to the jaws of Hell and challenged evil slugs, shadowy men made of shadowy black manstuff, weird ghostly demons and wacky undead the likes of which are terribly hard to explain without benefit of being very drunk indeed. It's this endless rollercoaster of imagery and flashing action that makes this an exciting read. It never slows down from beginning to end, and doesn't let up at all on the weird factor. It's like Shatner's there, calling for warp factor 100, and Scottie's saying, "I canna give no-" and Shatner's like, "Bite me, you little engineer! I'm the captain! Do as I say! Gimme 100!!!"
And that's about all that's missing from this book - Shatner.
It's got everything else, though. And in what other book do you know do the heroes chase after demons by weilding the greatest and most powerful weapons known to man - '80s ballads?
I mean - '80s ballads!
Ballads! Real ones!
It made even me cringe. Those things can be uber-powerful weapons in the wrong hands, and it seems David Wong has two of them.
His style is uber-cool and nerdy in a way without being overly-nerdy. There's an honest, alomost relaxed and vibrant quality to his prose that's deeply refreshing. It feels happy, and energetic despite the themes and the central character's desire to just not be part of it all. It's also got more tangents and long meaningless asides than a Tarantino script. It will appeal to everyone who ever stomped on a cockroach and pretended it was a demon they just vanquished. Or anyone who ever had a little too much "caffeine" and ended up talking to their reflection in the mirror. Anyone who's ever been to "the other side."
A big part of me wishes I could have been there at the "beginning" of this novel, to have witnessed its growth into a novel. It's got a fine history as outlined in the afterword by David Wong, but I'm happy to simply have read the book. It's an amazing achievement it really is, and it's one of those books which clearly shows creativity isn't a lost artform and that not everyone's trying to write something for the masses - just for the kicks and giggles.
I cannot recommend this book enough to you. I really can't.
It's horrifying how good this is.
Only one thing really horrifies me any more than reading this book: the fact that they're making a movie of it.
when reading this book, i recommend you listen to: nomeansno
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2011
During part one of the book, I thought that the plot and characters were somewhat interesting; overall, I was entertained enough to continue reading. Upon reading part two of the book, I found that the storyline progressively got worst as the storyline became vaguer and less congruent. In all, I think that David Wong is an excellent writer, but I completely lost interest in the plot; it feels like John Dies at the End is just a series of mini-plots placed together. A friend expressed how he holds this book in such high esteem and I cannot understand why. Decent characters and fluid writing style can only carry a book so far. I really am a patient person, but when something fails to entertain, I am not afraid to state so.
PS: At some parts it tends to be more entertaining and I hoped that things would lead to the "major" plot-line, but I was always disappointed. 70 something percent in and there is still no major plot focus, no antagonist, etc., but maybe that is what David Wong wanted out of this. It's not for everyone.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2011
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.