Saturday, February 9, 2013

About Books: John Dies at the End by David Wong.

Last weekend I read John Dies at the End by David Wong.

It's got all kinds of accolades, which you can easily find for yourself here. 

The only/best quote I'll repeat goes something like "A cross between Douglas Adams and Stephen King."

John Dies At The End began as an online goof and became a popular web-episodic project, and then it was a book that people loved, and now it is also a movie opening very very soon.  Or now, depending on your geographic location.  Also there is a sequel called This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It, which sits on my bookshelf waiting for me to get to it one of these years when everybody else has already read it, loved it, and long-since moved on.

Bottom line:  Ian liked John Dies at the End.  I was highly entertained and laughed out loud many times.  Not the kind of laughed out loud that ends in me writing LOL, but the kind of laughed out loud that caused my family to look at me funny and, in the case of the dog, jump off my lap and go sulk in another room.  I don't get enough time to read, but I gobbled this thing down in a single weekend.

The book's protagonist (David Wong) is a career loser.  Always been a loser, continues being a loser during the book.  Sometimes Loser is also known as Average Guy, but that's not accurate.  Some of us are below average, which can result in being the protagonist of this book.  Wong's best friend John is also a loser and as a bonus reminds me 100% of a dude I knew in College also named John, also a severe social misfit also a druggie, also holding a severe misconception of himself as an actual musician.  So it's him I pictured throughout the book, which made the whole thing funnier to me.

There is a level of prolific imagination throughout the novel that is often exhausting.  It's like mental gymnastics (which, for lazy people like myself, can result in the burning of actual calories).

As a reader I can see where the author’s initial love and enthusiasm for this project flagged and was replaced with a case of the "Well, NOW what?s".  The middle of the book lags, then kind of slowly ramps up to become a decent novel without the density of experience that we had in the first half.  So while I can call the book "uneven", an uneven road can be one helluva ride.  And this one is quite a ride.  With penis jokes and poo jokes.

I don't have a ratings system and I'm not going to use one.  I can give it a "Two Feet Up" rating because that's how I spent my weekend, but that's as close as I'll get.

I believe I'm looking forward to the movie, opening right now at a theater near me.

The Not Roger Ebert Movie Review

The John Dies at the End book page on Amazon

The actual review quote I was too lazy to put in the body of my actual post:
“David Wong is like a mash-up of Douglas Adams and Stephen King . . . ‘page-turner’ is an understatement.” --Don Coscarelli, director, Phantasm IV and Bubba Ho-tep [Um, this is also the guy who directed the John Dies at the End movie - Ian]

An actual review from an actual book reviewer:

From Publishers Weekly

In this reissue of an Internet phenomenon originally slapped between two covers in 2007 by indie Permutus Press, Wong— 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 clich├ęs of first-person-shooter video games and fantasy gore films. Sure to please the Fangoriaset 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 the Hardcover edition.

The actual book flap text:
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.
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.
Unfortunately for us, if you make the right choice, we’ll have a much harder time explaining how to fight off the otherworldly invasion currently threatening to enslave humanity.
        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 is was my fault.