Review

John Dies at the End by David Wong (Jason Pargin) is early-2000s bad clickbait.

Wow.

WOOOOOOW. Wowowowowowowowowowowowow.

I have no words. What a fucking novel. I just wasted so many hours of my life for NO PAYOFF. Thanks “David Wong” thanks for that you fuck.

First and foremost, the title is blatant false advertising. Can you imagine my disappointment when I read the last page and the character John was still alive?? WHY THE FUCK DID I EVEN FINISH THE NOVEL IF YOU CAN’T EVEN PROMISE YOUR TITLE OFFER??

Second, WOWOWOW talk about whitewashing. Did you think by the title, “Hey! Wong! An Asian-American author? Count me in! But what’s that name in parentheses?” Well, David Wong is just a pen-name for Jason Pargin, some Cracked.com shitty writer that is more show than substance.

Can you tell I’m mad?

This novel has been sitting on my shelf for years. I can tell because the price sticker is from Borders in the US, and I haven’t been to the US in possibly 7-8 years, so yeah. I remember I tried reading it when I first got it, but I put it down after like 30 pages. I’m now experiencing so much buyers remorse.

I only finished this book because I have a personal policy where, if I bought a book, I’m gonna read it through to the end. I spent hard-earned cash, I better get my money’s worth.

There were so many times I wanted to stop reading John Dies at the End. It’s just a bad book guys. It’s awful! I’m sure there are people out there who could like it, but those people can only be found in in the early 2000s.

Apparently John Dies at the End used to be a serial web novel. 70000 people read it before it was taken offline and published into a book. I’m unsure if I should be impressed by that number. Let’s be honest, 70000 views on a YouTube video is kinda meager (not bad, but not good). However, we’re talking the early days of the web-boom. Not a lot of people were online back in 2001 when this thing was first published.

But 70000 people over 7 years? Yeah, colour me not impressed.

God knows what those people saw in this story. Maybe the internet was super boring back then and they had nothing better to do. The book really reads like a web novel though. Long chapters with several section-breaks. A lot of ‘90s “I’m a loser” motifs to make the main character relatable.

I mean, the book already dated itself when it talked about ‘piles of magazines.’ And then it really doubled down when cell-phones were mentioned but said “Yknow it’s a cell-phone when it has bad reception,” (paraphrasing).

Okay, enough bitching, let’s attempt to get to the meat of this review.

The Summary

Our main character David Wong lives in “Undisclosed” USA. He’s meeting with a reporter to tell his story of weirdness. Thus the majority of the novel is told in flashback.

Split into two parts, Book 1 documents David, a drug known as ‘soy sauce’ and a demon hell-bent on attending some event in Las Vegas to end the world. Book 2, significantly longer than Book 1, goes further into what the demon is and where it came from.

I don’t even know where to start. To accurately recount the plot would be writing a small novella. Even the back of the book knows it’s too ridiculous to summarize.

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Fuck this book and everything on the back cover. “None of this is my fault” eh David? Yeah well FUCK YOU

Okay. So. David wants to tell someone his story because he just wants to decompress or something. He contacts a reporter and basically tells his life story. It starts with David at a summer concert where we’re introduced to John, a vain asshole who is David’s only friend. At this concert David meets a ‘spooky’ faux-Rastafarian who pulls some weird tricks. Only later do we learn he was on ‘soy sauce’ a drug equal to the one in Limitless but also welcomes demons into the world. The metaphor “a portal between worlds” is often used.

The night of the concert, several kids die/go missing at the faux-Rastafarian’s party who also died via self-combustion. Because of the soy-sauce, demons from another world were brought to this world, enter the body of a kid, and that kid kidnaps four others (John, David’s former classmate Jim, David’s crush Jennifer, and another whose name I can’t remember).

The rest of Book 1 is this group of kidnappees and David attempting to stop the demons from taking over their world. It’s kind works out.

Book 2 is basically David and John fighting this constant presence of ‘shadow people’ who keep entering their world from an alternative world. “Spooky” shit happens, the two eventually go over to this world, destroy it, and return home. David gets the girl (new girl called Amy), it turns out he was a shadow person all along, blah blah blah.

No one should care about spoilers because it’s a shit novel and no one should read it.

The Good

I’ll give John Dies at the End on thing: It kept me reading.

Part of that may have been my desire to get this book out of my life forever, but it was an interesting read in the sense I had no idea where it was going.

Jason Pargin, I hate this shitty novel of yours, but at the very least you’re creative.

The Bad

So, so much. Jesus Christ how did this novel get a movie adaptation?

As I said before, this book is dated. To the point it becomes distracting. Similar to Seinfeld, so much could be solved with cell-phones. But I can give that some pass considering the story does not hinge on dates.

John Dies At the End is a fucking liar – as I said – because John does not die in the end. Which is crazy since they kill of side-characters like they’re nothing! They didn’t do a fake out. They even had the chance of using the shadow people doubles (long story, don’t bother looking it up) to kill a fake John. BUT NOPE. THIS IS FUCKING CLICKBAIT A LA 2001.

Most of the characters are unlikeable. John is a vain douchebag. David is a fucking loser, but he sure as hell isn’t likeable. The guy just makes you depressed. Why the hell should I be rooting for him? He rarely does a good deed that doesn’t directly benefit him (or plays along with John’s constant pushiness).

Apparently this is a comedy-horror? Apparently there’s humour in this novel? Again, it’s pretty dated because I could only identify a lot of dick jokes and general toilet humour. Nothing clever here folks, move along.

This book isn’t even scary. I’m still waiting for a horror novel that keeps me up at night. Not this one. I found it got too technical with its description of monsters which just made them complicated to imagine. Or perhaps that was the humour? Who knows.

The chapters are too long. I mean, I write long chapters, but I don’t fill them with dumb, unnecessary filler. This is a 466-page novel with seventeen chapters. WHAT THE FUCK? THAT’S RIDICULOUS. Couldn’t give us more of a break “David Wong?” Jeeeesus.

(Also, there’s a really lame Legend of Zelda reference half-way through the book. I just wanted to mention that because I love LoZ and I hate this book.)

Final Thoughts

Fuck this book. No one should read it. I won’t even humour watching the trailer for the movie adaptation. I want nothing more to do with this series. I’m going to thow this book out as soon as possible. I don’t support book-burning but damn this would be an appropriate occasion.

There is a sequel to John Dies at the End, where perhaps John does die, but I truly, truly doubt it.

If anything, I’m glad to get this off my shelf, but it was a drain. I did not enjoy reading this book. I hate that I wasted time of it, but at least I can warn others.

I try to rate books I read objectively, but I don’t think I can do that this time. Objectively, it’s a book. It hits all the points that make it, in theory, ‘interesting.’ I can see people liking it. I can see why it was made into a movie.

But it’s just not good.

There’s something about it that just ruins itself. I think it really boils down to David as a narrator and a character. You can’t sympathize, you can’t relate, you can’t really get invested because he’s always saying “not this time” in regards to John’s antics.

Honestly, John Dies at the End is such a product of it’s time that it should stay there and rot. No one should attempt to recover this story. No one should bother checking their local library.

It’s so quintessentially early 2000s that it outdated itself by the time it was published in 2008.

Final Rating

2/10

Don’t read this book.

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