Updated: Jul 6, 2019
John Dies At The End, by David Wong
You're going to die. Someday, you will face that moment. Regardless of what you believe, at that moment either you will face complete nonexistence, which is something you can't possibly imagine, or you will face something even stranger that you also can't possibly imagine. On an actual day in the future, you will be the unimaginable.
Did I get your attention? Are you vaguely unsettled now? Good. Because that is exactly the state of mind you will be in when you read this book.
This book is bonkers. I'm not actually sure what to say here, as I can't really give you a plot recap because it's nonsensical. And I'm not really worried about spoilers, because you wouldn't believe me if I told you.
David and John (not their real names) start off by battling a meat demon, and things just get stranger from there. You think that they might be raunchy ghostbusters at first, but it's so much more than that. Other dimensions are involved, there are a lot of weird beings, some that wear wigs, and a drug called soy sauce that allows your brain to register on some level the weirdness that surrounds us all.
Sometimes it would almost get disturbing-level scary, and at those times it reminded me a bit of China Méville's Perdido Street Station, which I mention in my Disturbing Books post, but it never follows through with the curled up in the fetal position creepiness. Usually a dick joke is thrown in and it is a kindness on the author's part so I don't stay up all night rocking back and forth and scratching my arms. But it's also never truly funny, even a dark comedy, as it is too disturbing.
I wasn't really sure what the audience was for this book. So I did some research. I had added the book to my "want to read" list on Goodreads back in 2012, when I first joined and I had asked a bunch of people their top reading lists to get my to read list started. So that nugget of information told me that someone I knew had liked this book enough to tell other people about it, to say it was one of their favourite books. Huh.
So then I did more research, and discovered they had made a movie. A real John Dies At the End movie. With Paul Giametti. So that tells me that not only do lots of people really like the book, but enough so that someone thought that it deserved to be made into a film. For the record, it has a fairly decent 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but only 54% of viewers liked it, which I find probably pretty accurate. This might be a love it or hate it kind of thing. Tell me, did you love John Dies At the End? I really want to discuss this with you.
Because I just found it weird. It's genre-bending for sure, too gory to be truly scary for me, and too filled with dick jokes to be anything other than college frat humour at some points, it left me wanting. I will admit this is likely because I'm not a lover of the gore, or of the dick jokes if I'm going to be honest, even if some were so over the top that even I chuckled.
I'm going to say that my final word on John Dies At the End is that I didn't really get it, and it was not the book for me. That being said, clearly many people don't agree with me. So, if you like disturbing and gory books, and you also like a really good dick joke every once and awhile, I would totally recommend it. To everyone else who read it and felt like the world is already an unsettling enough place as it is, read my guide to dealing with existential angst.