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John Dies at the End Hardcover – September 29, 2009
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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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“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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
I swear I am not David Wong's mother or significant other. He has not paid me for this review. There were no sexual favors exchanged. PINKIE SWEAR.
This book. Oh, my. This book. It was like a shot of Kahlua you didn't expect in your coffee.
No, that's not quite right. It was like the coffee you didn't expect in your chicken fricasee.
Okay, I suck at metaphors.
This book was AMAZING with capitals and hip-thrusts. Is it funny? Yes. YES. Is it scary? YAAAASSS. Is it everything you wanted in a horror novel that you didn't know you wanted? *random symbols because your mind cannot process the intensity of this yes*
Read this. If you're sorry, welp, sorry. But you won't be. I know these things.
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.