John Dies @ the End by David Wong, which was our April book club selection, is like falling off the frame and into a Salvador Dalí surrealist painting and its topsy-turvy world where very little makes sense and there is no straight path to some kind of satisfactory resolution.
Wong is a long-time editor at Cracked.com, which from what I gather is a humor website, and Wong is really a pen name. So should you take anything in his novel seriously, even if it is considered in the horror genre? My answer would be no.
In this novel, the soy sauce is a drug that enables John and David to see ghosts, demons, and other underworld-like things, and these unsuspecting and slacker heroes are less-than-motivated to take action, unless they have to. Our unreliable narrator, David Wong, is socially inept and ogles women everywhere he goes, but readers are not even sure if he is David or John or someone else because the names of been changed. In B-horror movie fashion, plots are introduced, left hanging, and reworked into even more ridiculous adventures.
“‘I call it Dante’s Syndrome,’ John said. I had never heard him call it any such thing. ‘Meaning, I think Dave and I gained the ability to peer into Hell. Only it turns out Hell is right here, it’s all through us and around us and in us like the microbes that swarm through your lungs and guts and veins. Hey, look! An owl!'” (pg. 7)
“‘But I can bless water to make it holy. The ice statue, I mean.’
John’s face brightened and he said, ‘That’s perfect!’ He thrust his index finger into the air. ‘We bless the ice, then we just have to somehow get all hundred or so of those monsters to lick the statue!'” (130 pgs.)
These examples should provide you with the humor in this book, but some of this just seemed inserted for humor’s sake and did little to add to the story. My final impression of John Dies @ the End by David Wong — the narrator for Audible was — is one of being overwhelmed by the descriptive info-dumps and the absurdity. Because of the overwhelming and topsy-turvy nature of the narrative, this one did not work well on audio at all, leaving me lost most of the time, which is why I switched to the book.
What the book club thought:
Sounded like most everyone thought the book was OK, but was not overly excited about the book. One member who said they were not sad to have read the book, said that they were not interested in reading any of the sequels. Another member said that the book was humorous, but most members said that the book had a plot that went nowhere and where there were no consequences for anything that happened.