Friday, 13 April 2012

John Dies at the End by David Wong

John Dies at the End David WongSummary - 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. -GoodReads

4 Things you should know about John Dies at the End

Since David Wong, the author of John Dies at the End, is also the senior editor of, I could think of no better way to honor this book than to put the review in their format. I've even split it up into two pages to make it closer to the real thing.

I should start off by saying that although the four things you should know about this book all contain some level of criticism, I did enjoy the book to a certain extent. But you should know what you’re getting into, so without further ado, here are the four things you should know about John Dies at the End:

#4. They’re making it into a movie…

….which is probably a better format than a book for the kind of story it’s telling. One of the book club participants called it a “series of short vignettes.” Not surprising, since the book is already divided into four sections: a prologue (which it is not), Book I, Book II and an epilogue. The four sections are related, but sometimes not clearly so, and the visuals of a movie will probably tie things together a bit better. 

The biggest problem with the format is that while the first book “They China Food” is an enjoyable read, the second, “Korrok” isn’t. It suffers from strange pacing and a plot that careens wildly from scene to scene. By the time it reaches a conclusion, you are not entirely sure what really happened.

#3. It’s a sloooooow read.

I’ll admit it. I love to crash through a book as quickly as I can to get to the ending. That’s why I can’t ever solve the puzzle in an Agatha Christie novel – I missed some clue on an early page that would have tipped me off. But I do appreciate a complex book, so long as I feel like I’m not getting hampered in getting to the ending.

John Dies at the End throws up roadblocks constantly. It skips around in time and in place. Crucial characters are intoxicated often. Descriptions are given and then taken back by the characters as they discover what is and is not real. The entire story is set as a story being told to someone - and at one point the storyteller tells a story that someone else told him that is embellished to the point of hilarity. But the use of these devices add up and it makes the book very dense and difficult to wade through.

(What's after the jump contains both NSFW references and a spoiler. You've been warned.)

#2. Heh-heh-heh-heh, uhhhhh huh huh huh

If Beavis and Butt-head were literate, this is the kind of book they’d write.

Our male members of the book club actually liked this element of the total package as they know or have known people like the main characters and they thought the use of humor was a useful tool in fleshing out the characters.

But let’s get to the meat of the matter. Look, I’m a straight woman. I’m not averse to manly men and their manly man parts. But I have a bone to pick with an author who thinks the tent pole of all humor is the word penis.

Think I’m exaggerating? Actual book quote:
“Every man is blessed with his gifts from the Lord. One of mine happens to be a penis large enough that, if it had a penis of its own, my penis’s penis would be larger than your penis.”
That’s the point where you think the author may be a little nuts.

(If you are counting, the number of references to genitalia in this section is 16, including the 6 instances of the word penis, not counting this one.)

#1. John doesn’t die at the end…

…And thank goodness he doesn’t, because he is by far the most likeable character in the book. He fills out the role of the slacker buddy pretty nicely, and provides a lot of the humor throughout the story. You really get the feeling like he’s up for any kind of adventure, and that drives a lot of the plot throughout.

The narrator, on the other hand, is fairly pathetic. He holds himself up as being more responsible than John, but yet he is solely motivated by what would benefit him, which makes it harder to root for him throughout the book. It’s the kind of book where you really feel like you ought to be rooting for the narrator, so making that difficult doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, even though that might be more realistic.

Bottom Line: If you’re the type of person who likes trippy non-linear storytelling with a sci-fi plot and lots of penis jokes, this is the book for you. If that’s not your cup of tea, read at your own risk. Grade: B.

1 comment:

Hey Lady! said...

This is the best review for this book. Period. The format is perfect, the review is spot on, and the penis jokes, well you have to include those they were a quarter of the book (not really, but it seemed like it at times). And you're so right about the first half of the book being so much better then the second! Thanks again SO MUCH for writing this review. Hilarious and brilliant!