John Dies At The End: A Theatre For The Absurd
I was never really too much into the whole internet thing. I used it mainly for cheat codes and looking at the most disgusting things my cousin and I could think of to put into whatever search engine we were using at the time. That was fun. However, I could never spend the amount of time on their that most people could. There were other things I would have preferred to be doing. Years went by and my internet usage slightly increased due to the sheer number of things people began putting up there. Long story short, my buddy introduced me to Cracked.com a while ago, and I fell in love with that site. I would read anything and everything on there, still do sometimes. However, I began to see ads for a book written by the editor of Cracked.com, David Wong. David is not his real name, but it is the one he prefers to use, so I will respect that. The book was called John Dies At The End. Catchy title I thought. Horror/comedy/insanity was used to describe the book. As we all know, good ol’ Arthur here is drawn to that shit like a magnet. So naturally, I picked it up and started reading. What follows is my decent into madness and the following crawl back to sanity bundled with a really solid read. But before reading this, I must warn you….sometimes when you least expect it….like in this wonderful book of batshit craziness…a dick may appear out of nowhere.
Now before we get officially started, get your jokes out now about the title. I’ll wait…..we done? Okay let’s go then. I think it is a brilliant title. Keeps the reader guessing as to if the author is messing with them or if it’s true. Only one way to find out….keep reading! Now like I said earlier, I am drawn to horror/comedy with a passion. I find it to be an awesome blend of two separate genres and keeps it refreshing to the point of either the comedy or the horror staying away from becoming stale or drawn out. If it is one thing that annoys me, it is a never ending walk through a creepy hallway. You guys are better than that, and the author needs to give you more than that. Thankfully, David Wong walks a very well made line in that aspect. Never one to shy away from dick jokes or mountains of meat coming together to create a monster of cold cuts, David weaves his tale with a fresh take on the subject. Even giving us a nice twist ending that I won’t even mention or touch in this article. A good way into the book, you’ll come across a “package” of sorts. And the ride to finding out what it really is, is just simply a treat.
The book centers around two friends, David and John, and through a series of events at a party, they encounter this new drug known as Soy Sauce. Now the sauce isn’t just some random heroin/cocaine sort of drug. It is the sort that when you take it, time becomes irrelevant, and so does the normal waking world. The effects are permanent, and the things that come with it are not something you would wish upon your worst enemy. Needless to say, they both take it. One voluntary, the other on accident. Once again for spoiler’s sakes, I will not reveal who. What transpires is a series of what the fucks and holy shits. Taking the sauce opens up a gate to another dimension where monsters are real, shadows are not your friend, an ancient entity has its sights on you, and the coolest fucking dog in existence rides to battle (or should I say explodes?). It is a pure ride into sheer fuckery that you just have to take.
During the course of the novel, David takes you to certain places you know for a fucking fact you would not want to go to. Introducing you to characters you either will never want to encounter in real life (Shitload!) or just generally hate (Shitload!). All of the characters are well done in terms of giving you a good sense of who they are. Particularly David, John, and Amy. Might I also say that Amy is one of the most endearing characters I have read in a long time. You feel for this poor girl, and you also marvel at her strength in the face of whatever the fuck is going on and what she’s been dragged into (Phantom Limb!) And you will all fall in love with Molly. I won’t say who she is, but you will find out if you read.
In the process of dealing with the effects of the Soy Sauce and the lasting side effects, David and John discover they are actually really shitty, but somewhat effective with dealing with the horrors and craziness that gets thrust into their paths, even reveling in it (looking at you John.) The things they face, including a video game inspired trek through an abandoned mall where old boxes and items explode and drop items when bashed open. NEed extra ammo for that awesome triple barreled shotgun? No problem! Bash open that box right there. Need an extra life? Smash open that mannequin! This was by far one of the best parts of the book. It just made me laugh hysterically since their confusion and acceptance is the same feeling I get when playing most games. Why does everyone hide money in boxes scattered haphazardly or keep bonus lives in the most ridiculous places? It just adds to the what the fuck factor of the story.I thoroughly enjoyed this whole sequence amongst other things.
If there was any gripe I could make for this book, it would be in the pacing. I really enjoyed it for the most part, however, there were a few instances where I thought things could’ve been done a bit snappier, but overall it was well done. You may think some parts will have no effect on the base story, or that it just doesn’t feel like it belongs in the book, stick with it as they will become important later on. Trust me, I know what I am saying. You’ll thank me later. Especially when a certain character begins to act a little bit…off so to say.No spoilers there…I promise.
I know most of you are going to think, ” But Arthur, how can a guy who writes articles on a comedy website possibly put together an entertaining book?”
Simple…He fucking does. That is it, and that is all. Do not simply look over this book mainly because you are thinking along those lines, as you will be sorely mistaken. A lot of great authors started out writing articles (ahem…) and grew their stories and writing abilities into full fledged novels or comics. It is not necessarily a stepping stone onto bigger and better things, but a way of gaining experience points (NERD!) and honing the craft into something more refined and sharp. Not everything starts out huge (sorry JK, I know your first book was huge and I freaking love the whole series, but I’m sure it wasn’t the first thing you wrote )so don’t simply sweep this one under the rug thinking it won’t be good. It is, and I hope you all get a chance to enjoy it. And if you do enjoy it, you are very lucky as a sequel was just released titled “This Book is Full Of Spiders.” I just finished this book, and may I just say it is a great follow up. I will also write a review for that one very soon. I’ll just give you guys enough time to read “John” before moving on to “Spiders”. Also, they have just released the film version of ” John dies At The End” which i was lucky enough to see a few nights ago. I won’t get into that here, as I will most likely write a review of that too when I get a chance to see it again. I was half in the bag when I saw it. Don’t judge me.
00===D Arthur Harkness.
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