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John Dies at the End Paperback – September 14, 2010
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“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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Top customer reviews
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Yeah, I was too... then I got this piece of garbage. Luckily I didn't have to buy it.
It's written like a poorly edited, nonsensical and self satisfied internet forum post. It's pure, PURE crap... The first third of the book does this:
2 Losers -> 2,000 terrible jokes and horror cliches -> Party -> drugs -> some kids die from drugs -> kidnapped by zombie who takes them to Vegas for some unknown reason -> something about time travel.
I am not joking, it's the worst thing I've ever read. I thought I was having trouble following the trash, but in actuality -it's just that poorly written.
IMPORTANT POINT: Many of these reviews seem fake. Many use the same adjectives, they're from similar dates, many are "real names," many have only 1 review... Many with other reviews are just 1-3 sentence idiocies like, "Really cool! I decided to spend 10 minutes registering this account just to share completely mundane reviews! Awesome!" The fake reviewers are getting more sophisticated I wish Amazon would/could take action.
I speed read this garbage so you don't have to! Run, run away from this nonsense.
Wong, if you outsourced an army of fake reviewers shame on you for resorting to such pathetic marketing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How does this book have so few negative reviews? Maybe it's just me.