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review 2017-06-09 03:59
John Dies at the End Review
John Dies At The End - David Wong

"There's nothing new under the sun."

If you're an insecure creative person, you'll hear this phrase quite often. Friends will try to build you up, because there's no easy (or friendly) way for them to say, "Maybe storytelling isn't for you, you know? Perhaps take up model-building or lint-collecting?"

I used to agree with "There's nothing new under the sun." Really, I did. Hell, I'm even guilty of uttering it once or a dozen-hundred times. The truth is, that sentence is bullshit. "There's nothing new under the sun" is a lie creative people (or people who identify as creative people) tell each other when they can't think of something original. How do I know this? Because books like this exist.

I've recently (recently, as in, like, yesterday, fam) sworn off bitching about unoriginal content and shitty writers. You assholes do you. But when you get a negative review lambasting your ass for unoriginal content and/or crap writing, you don't get to complain. I tried to warn you that you were shit. You just wouldn't listen.

"Big words from some fat fuck on a computer. My mommy says I write all the good words!"

Good for you, Pudding. Here's a pat on the back. Now kindly go write another couple thousand words on your super-original vampire/werewolf/zombie/plague novel set in Nazi-run Victorian England. There's totes an audience for it. I promise. smooches.

John Dies at the End was written by a data entry clerk in his free time. Word of mouth begat word of mouth and soon enough he had offers from publishers and filmmakers alike. You can tell the author is not a trained writer. He's a gifted storyteller, but the writing is your basic high school creative writing. We're not talking Billy Shakes here, but I think you already knew that. Dude's got a tale to tell and he's gonna tell it in the simplest way possible: with pop culture references and a metric fuck-tonne of naughty language. Sometimes the best stories are written this way. Nothing pretty to get in the way. Just words in the proper order to waylay confusion. Rad.

Me? I loved every minute of it. Yes, even the wacky pacing and start-over mechanic employed between parts one and two. The only thing I could've done without was the use of "retarded" in place of "stupid", but given the narrator is the type of guy he is, it fits the profile. I was certainly not triggered. Just wanted to let those of you who are sensitive to such things know that such things happen in this book. A lot. Like, everything's retarded to this dude. Even himself. Then again, I think I'm only one of like six people who haven't read this book or seen the movie. So whatever.

I will refrain from talking about the movie here because I don't remember a fucking thing about it. Like, nothing, son. I know I watched it. I even discussed it with my dude Linton the following day. We were both confused by the fact that (view spoiler). Still, I have no idea what happened in the movie. I do hope the book is not equally forgettable.

Will I be reading the next book, This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It? Probably. Not anytime soon though because I have twenty-three bazillion kajillion other books to read before the end of the year. But, yeah, I want to.

In summation: A wacky, original novel with a few pacing problems and a dumb-fun narrator who's equally likeable and offensive. What might shock you is the level of character depth on display. More than once the author sneaks deep moments into his otherwise shallow narrative. Bravo to him.

Final Judgment: Come for the bizarre shit. Stay for John's one-liners.

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review 2016-12-22 15:01
Review: This Book is Full of Spiders (John Dies at the End Book 2 of 2)
This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It - David Wong

First of all, look at that cover.  On second thought, if you’re afraid of spiders, cover your eyes and scroll on by.  I really like it, and I don’t normally take much notice of book covers.  Pictures don’t usually do much for me; I’d rather have 1000 words.  But apparently I like pictures of books with holes that have book-page-spiders crawling out of them.  Who knew?

 

This book is the sequel to John Dies at the End.  Each book tells a complete story that stands on its own, although there are some fun references to the first book that would go over somebody’s head if they hadn’t read it.  This second book has the same crazy humor combined with goriness, crudeness, and silliness, but I did think it was toned down a little bit as compared to the first book.  On the other hand, I’ve now read almost 900 pages of this author’s writing, so I may have just built up an immunity.  Or brain damage.

 

I didn’t think this plot was as unique and strange as the first one, but it still had its own unique flare and it was told well.  In fact, I may have been more absorbed by this story simply because it wasn’t quite so bizarre.  It definitely wasn’t devoid of craziness and fun, though.  With this book I don’t see much harm in a brief synopsis, as long as I leave out all the juicy details: The story is basically about the zombie apocalypse coming to a small town in the Midwestern U.S., but with the not-really-zombies caused by not-exactly-spiders.  Normally I hear the word “zombie” and reflexively reply with the word “ugh”, but this isn’t one of those tedious types of zombie/monster stories.  I get bored if a story primarily consists of characters running from scary monsters, finding a temporary refuge, getting found by scary monsters, and running from scary monsters again.  This book has an actual story, and it never once felt tedious.

 

The first book had been told primarily from the first-person perspective of the narrator.  In this book, our main characters aren’t together for large portions of the story so the reader gets to spend some time in the heads of the other main characters.  I enjoyed that because I felt like I got to know those characters better, and I enjoyed not being confined to a single viewpoint and a single chain of events.  On the other hand, I wished the characters were together more often because I think they’re more fun that way.

 

One semi-spoilerish comment:

It seems pretty pointless to persist in calling the town “Undisclosed” to discourage tourists, considering the entire world has been watching news about it for days.  The town is likely to be a household name for years.  But then, the narrator does make references to potential readers 200 years from now, so maybe he’s trying to prevent tourism in 200 years. :)

(spoiler show)

 

In summary, there were some things I liked better about this book as compared to the first book, and some things I liked less.  On average, though, I think I enjoyed them about equally.  I may have to check out some of the author’s other work someday.

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review 2016-12-19 20:52
Review: John Dies at the End (John Dies at the End Book 1 of 2)
John Dies at the End - David Wong

This book was on a list from which I pull many of my reading selections.  Every time I noticed this title on that list, there was always a brief pause while I speculated about it.  Is John the main character?  Does he in fact die at the end of the book, or at the end of something else?  Is it a physical death, a metaphorical death, or a spiritual death?  Is it a complete lie?  I had many, many other theories, but I knew absolutely nothing about the book itself.  When the Kindle edition went on sale a month ago, I grabbed it so I could finally get some answers.

 

I’d believed this was a fantasy book, but it reads more like a horror story to me.  I could see reasons to classify it as either horror, fantasy, or science fiction, depending on which parts stick out the most to the reader.  I’m happy that I went into it completely blind, and I think a large part of the fun in reading this came from not knowing what to expect, so I’m afraid to try talking about the plot.  The story is crazy anyway, and the only way I could make it sound very sensible would be to explain things that aren’t revealed until near the end.  I’m going to limit myself to this: The main characters in the story are two early-twentyish males who are completely immature.  They get caught up in some… strange events.  Chaos ensues.

 

I’d be afraid to recommend this book to anybody, and yet I wish everybody I know would go read it right now so I can find out what they think when they’re done. :)  Most of the time, I was completely wrapped up in the story, but once in a while I would pause and think to myself, “Ok, now that’s just ridiculous.”  But even though this book has a lot of crazy stuff in it, the story still felt coherent and interesting.  It isn’t one of those stories where the author throws in every crazy thing he or she can imagine to the point that it overwhelms the story. 

 

There were some inconsistencies, most of which I blame on the unreliableness of the narrator rather than on problems with the writing itself.  There’s a lot of goriness, cussing, and crude humor.  There was also a lot of clever and truly funny stuff, and the story completely sucked me in.  It's told in a slightly non-linear fashion, which helped keep it interesting.  It wasn’t a terribly scary book, but there were some parts in the second half that did start to creep me out a little.  I think it probably depends on what scares you.  I could easily see other people being freaked out by completely different parts that didn’t bother me at all.  This is a complete story without any cliffhangers, but there were some interesting reveals near the end that I hope will be dealt with in more detail in the sequel.  The sequel is definitely the next book I intend to read.

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review 2016-10-08 01:09
Review: John Dies at the End by David Wong
John Dies At The End - David Wong

 

A fantastically misanthropic horror tale, laced with bouts of obscene and obscenely funny comedy that heightens the absurdity of the entire thing. A sort of horrific Bill & Ted for the Millennial generation.

 

Listen, the comedy isn't going to be to everyone's tastes; I've seen many people who've dismissed it as stupid and childish. And some people who enjoy the comedy might not be comfortable with the level of gut-wrenching horror that makes itself known again and again. Originally serialized over the internet, readers may not even enjoy the format, which reads with an episodic feel.

 

The story itself isn't the main attraction though; it's the emotional connection to the characters that entices--David and John, originally, then, as the cast grows, definitely Amy in the second half. And, of course, Molly. I hung on to each page, turned with anticipation, because I genuinely cared about the characters in a very personal way. And then, boom! Suddenly, there's extremely strong emotional content about abuse/bullying that, from my own high school experiences, felt not only entirely and heart-wrenchingly real, but deeper than most non-lewd comedy material that I've tried to read. And weaves a story of a shockingly sweet romance in the second half, which was a wonderful surprise.

 

Comedy, horror, obscenity, gore and, above all else, absurdity, make this a solid read, that slips you some very real, and occasionally/not occasionally hugely misanthropic views of the world, in a veneer of chuckles and gag-worthy terror. One of my favorite reads of the year.

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text 2016-09-30 17:18
Reading progress update: I've read 469 out of 469 pages.
John Dies At The End - David Wong

Loved it. I'll be picking up the sequel as soon as I can. But I'm putting off reviewing it off for the moment, since I'm sick--again, and just feel blah.

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