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Review: John Dies at the End by David Wong

Dual cover for Film and book – John Dies at the End by David Wong. I like this 70’s vibe.

WARNING: This book contains adult themes such as violence and drug use, even if that drug is named after a condiment. And, if you are apt to be offended, this book will probably offend you.

STOP. You should not have touched this flyer with your bare hands. NO, don’t put it down. It’s too late. They’re watching you. 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 you’ll read on these pages, about the sauce, about Korrok, about the invasion, and the future. But it’s too late. You touched the book. You’re in the game. You’re under the eye. 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.

The important thing is this: The drug is called Soy Sauce and it gives users a window into another dimension. John and I never had the chance to say no. You still do. I’m sorry to have involved you in this, I really am. But as you read about these terrible events and the very dark epoch the world is about to enter as a result, it is crucial you keep one thing in mind: None of this was my fault.

If you were to mish-mash the American party scene with the supernatural and an anything goes story of impending doom you get John Dies at the End. It’s a satirical, quick page turning parody adventure with plenty of humor and supernatural scares and it tackles these two with a main over-arching theme of science fiction. It’s punchy, sarcastic, fun and the best part – unpredictable. Wong creates fresh ideas that include, just like the blurb says – bratwurst in a special kind of configuration that is not well. With twists galore on not so common life turned into fiction, like characters with celebrity names, but aren’t celebrities and these are executed with finesse and David Wong gets away with literary murder via pen and paper.

This book was adapted for indie film:

I think this is a clean trailer? Not exactly sure, sometimes the curse words pass through me unabated.

I did watch the film and it is pretty much a close-to, condensed version of the book and it did well in my mind for a low-budget indie film.

This book doesn’t provide much in the department of extra complex thought, concepts to rack your brain intellectually or poetic writing. However, it does keep your brain busy dealing with all these out there experiences and mishap interactions.

Thank you to Misty for snapping this picture for me. 😎. I love you.

David Wong is a pen name for Jason Pargin, the former executive editor at cracked.com, but that isn’t even the most interesting thing about it. David Wong is the main character of the book and first person narrator throughout. The writing is simple, great and snarky, so even though there is strong themes and language, I think the comprehension level here is relatively low which makes it a virtually effortless read and nice change of pace with some of the other stuff I have been reading.

However, don’t be mistaken because there’s a ton of detail that goes into the world of John Dies at the End and that is in every corner, however the books presents these details by sneaking them in with action and inner dialog which is a great way to explain a detailed world in literature without being verbose. I could tell that Wong was much more adept in the department of humor that he was in horror, but succeeded at both by combining the two. Nothing in the book was scary to me ( I believe my tolerance for horror is pretty high, so it may be scary for you ) besides the fact that this is somewhat of a close relation to reality, even if it’s in a metaphorical sense.


Fun fact: John Dies at the End started as a web serial beginning in 2001 and was read by an estimated 70k users before being taken offline in 2008. The book was first published in 2007.


The reason I picked this book up was because of this review on LJ and Rom book #1. I had never heard of this book or author before then. I can see some of the similarities in style and text, but the main difference here is that John Dies at the End is in first person and LJ and Rom was in third, along with the story lines being completely different. LJ and Rom don’t use drugs or cuss anywhere near as much. Although, the books are similar in randomosity and flavor. I enjoyed this venture into comparison in not only the film to the book, but also author to author and book to book. It’s nice to know there is a writer out there just as wacky.

Go check out David Wong’s homepage.

Recommendation:

If you don’t mind sitting back on a roller coaster ride full of nonsensical mayhem with puns, fart jokes with supernatural twists on real life party themes and a play on what comic horror slash science fiction can be, then do pick up John Dies at the End. If you are looking for something that will give your brain intellectual food and expand your horizons, then look elsewhere. I give this completely fun and wild ride ★★★★☆ four stars out of five.

Guys, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley

By S.D. McKinley

S.D. McKinley lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. He was born in the first half of the 1980's and grew up in Wisconsin as a young boy, then moved to Georgia when he turned exactly twelve years old. During teenage years, he raced dirt track go karts and played guitar. He discovered his current love for all kinds of art after his mid-life crisis at 25 years old. S.D. McKinley began writing books in 2017.

5 replies on “Review: John Dies at the End by David Wong”

That it is! Yeah, it was really cool watching the movie after I finished the book. I just started diving into reading the source material for some of my favorite movies. Its an interesting adventure. I can really see why a lot of people say the book is almost always better than the movie, just because exactly like the intro to this particular book says, you can really only fit about 100 script pages into a normal length movie, so there is a lot of humor / inner dialog that isn’t in the movie. Thank you for checking out the article. 😎

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