Revisited: John Dies at the End by David Wong
We here at WatchPlayRead have been talking about starting a feature in which we revisit books that we have read and loved. Honestly, the first book that came to mind for me was John Dies at the End by David Wong. It’s not a classic, nor is it really what some would call “literary genius,” but it is one of the most brilliant, witty, and all-around entertaining books I have ever read. So let’s revisit it, shall we?
You should not have touched this book with your bare hands.
NO, don’t put it down. It’s too late.
They’re watching you.
This is how the description on the back of the book starts. Immediately I was drawn in; I assume that’s the point of the description starting this way: it wants you to keep reading despite it telling you not to. Well, it worked on me. Then I started reading, and OH MY GOODNESS! Right from the beginning this book drew me in, and it kept me captivated for the rest of the 496 pages of awesomeness. John Dies at the End is a joyride; okay, it’s more like a surreal, strange, seriously gross acid trip (well, I’ve never done acid, but I assume it’s something like this).
“And watch out for Molly. See if she does anything unusual. There’s something I don’t trust about the way she exploded and then came back from the dead like that.”
See what I mean?
Our narrator is Dave, who is decidedly unreliable; he even admits it to us: he lies when he is nervous. After enraging a wannabe magician by revealing he’s an obvious hoax, Dave and his smart-ass friend John are exposed to a substance called soy-sauce, a drug that allows the pair to see into an alternate reality and reveals some pretty scary creatures that are all around them. They soon find out that something from another world wants to come over into our own, so the two begin a hilarious, scary, and, at times, disgusting quest to save our world.
“John flung himself into a pseudo-karate stance, one hand poised behind him and one in front, posed like a cartoon cactus. I thought for an odd moment he had moved his limbs so fast they had made that whoosh sound through air but then I realized John was making that sound with his mouth.”
It seems as if Wong’s imagination is limitless; he creates some of the most bizarre, fascinating, and horrific creatures I’ve ever found in a book, movie, TV show, or really any form of entertainment. I was impressed with his ability to combine both horror and humor so well. He reminded me both of Stephen King and Christopher Moore, as well as earning his many comparisons to Lovecraft.
I will say that I would not recommend this book to anyone that is squeamish in the slightest as you probably wouldn’t survive the first ten pages of the book. As I said earlier, this book is GROSS. Seriously gross. There are monsters made of cockroaches, an excessive amount of penis and poop jokes, several people who explode and blow up, and a lot of crude language. Personally, while it’s not like I’ve seen these things or regularly spew out penis jokes, John Dies at the End was a really fun, wild ride.
“Somebody said my name, asked if I was okay. I didn’t answer, the sound of the commotion dying around me as the heavy monkey of sleep rested its warm, furry ass on my eyelids.”
I won’t tell you that John Dies at the End is a literary masterpiece. It’s not. The plot has a lot of flaws, the humor is sometimes rather juvenile, and it might make some people gag more than once. But it was fun to read from start to finish (okay, it was also really strange and surreal, but fun).
Fred said, “Man, I think he’s gonna make a fuckin’ suit of human skin, using the best parts from each of us.”
“Holy crap,” said John. “He’ll be gorgeous.”
Have you read John Dies at the End? Let me know what you thought in the comments!
If you haven’t, you can order your copy John Dies at the End here.