body horror

[Book Review] John Dies at the End (David Wong, 2007) ★★★★★

book

John Dies at the End is an out-of-the-box hilarious, weird, original rollercoaster of cosmic horror and chaos. 


John Dies at the End is a supernatural cosmic horror comedy that is very original, imaginative, creative and a lot of fun. It’s a unique story with a unique and authentic voice that is relentlessly crazy, bizarre, adventurous, comical, exciting and full of gore and gruesome things. It mixes all these elements into a wonderful and amazing story that with a fast pace makes you laugh or cringe, sometimes even at the same time.

It’s a fantastical read with brilliantly funny characters, with a creative structure, that although sometimes can feel a bit chaotic, always knows what it is doing, even if the characters have no idea at all. If you are into weird stuff, then this is it.


Plot

David Wong, not his real name, lives in a small town in America, let’s call it [Undisclosed] because of the dangers that lurk there. With his best friend John he has had some  wild and crazy, out of this world adventures and now he is telling his story to journalist Arnie Blondestone. 

It all started when John took some strange drugs called Soy Sauce that made him susceptible to other dimensions and creatures that lurk within. The others who also took this drug are all dead and now that David also took it, they can’t stop seeing things and that makes them responsible to protect the world and [Undisclosed], sort of. Now they are in deep trouble.


Why you should read it

It’s cosmic horror and comedy at its best. It’s original and the tone and voice of David and the book are just brilliant. The monsters are gory and imaginative and so gross. But fun. It’s a rollercoaster of successive bizarre events, crazy stuff, weird monsters, and it gets weirder and weirder. It’s a nightmare come true but written in a brilliant witty and absurd comical style. 

David and John are the best antiheroes you will ever meet and they get help from Amy and her dog Molly. All these characters are very fleshed out and you get to know them by what they say or how they act or react. It’s all about the story that seems to develop out of its own and in which David and John got caught and can’t seem to escape from. 

The structure is highly creative as well. It starts out with David’s diary so we learn of some gruesome and fun things they are up against, later on in the story. We dive right in and it’s a bit of a teaser for the rest of the book. Then David is telling the whole story from the beginning up till now to Arnie. Everything is told from David’s point of view and told in the first person singular. While David has a great way of telling a story with lots of wry humor, it reads like a bonfire story, or a pub story with lots of bragging, told by your best friend and feels more intimate and fun. 

David’s story consists of two parts. The first part is titled ‘They China Food!’ and we are told how it all began and more importantly what began. The second part is titled ‘Korrok’ and takes place a few months after the crazy first adventure and then the adventure starts all over again, but worse and more bizarre and weird and dangerous. 

But it’s much more than just a retelling of the adventures, it’s also a mystery that still is in full progress while David is telling the story. The whole setup is well-crafted and feels so natural, but sneakily it is very smartly put together with a big reveal and finale that you won’t see coming. 

The whole book reads like a tv series, consisting of two seasons. There’s a big story arc and plot but there are also some monster-of-the-week storylines that eventually are connected to the story arc. It’s an original structure that works very well and creates a whole new fresh universe of storytelling, while the plot itself is also about a new fresh universe that causes all this trouble. Meanwhile David and John develop themselves as creature hunters, in their own style, which is nasty, inventive and very funny. 

The humor combines slapstick humor with dry humor, great observations and dialogue. The horror is cosmic and full of vile filthy gruesome never seen before fleshy meaty things. And the characters are a fresh new Scooby Gang that lives and learns very fast. 

It’s so unique and authentic and written in such a great style that you have to read it to believe the superlatives. 


My favorite part

In short, everything. From start to finish. It’s just one big adventure that might seem chaotic and incoherent but is anything but. Molly was a great mysterious character and when she and Amy came into the picture the whole story felt even more complete. It’s so imaginative and such a rollercoaster with the most bizarre and crazy things happening, that you can easily read it again and enjoy it all over again. It’s full of such creativity that you don’t see often. The characters, the creatures, the horror, the humor, the events, everything is fresh and new which makes this book a horror gem you don’t want to miss out on.


A favorite quote

My name is David Wong. My best friend is John. Those names are fake. You might want to change yours. You may not want to know about the things youll read on these pages, about the sauce, about Korrok, about the invasion, and the future. But its too late. You touched the book. Youre in the game. The only defense is knowledge. You need to read this book, to the end. Even the part with the bratwurst. Why? You just have to trust me.


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★★

Fun factor: ★★★★★

Gore factor: ★★★★★

Scare factor: ★★★★☆

Gruesome factor: ★★★★☆

Originality factor: ★★★★★

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★


Info

John Dies at the End is written by David Wong (Jason Pargin) and was first published by Permuted Press in 2007. It consists of 466 pages. 


book cover John Dies at the End by David Wong 2007

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