This book was an exercise in insanity! This is not the first time I've said this about a book, and considering there are two sequels to this, it won't be the last!
Sometimes I'm not sure if I'm too generous with my book ratings, or if I just have superb taste and amazing luck at picking great ones. I'd like to believe it's the latter...so I will.
My hubby and I, on a late night Netflix binge, saw this movie and were intrigued by the title--hello, spoilers! So we watched knowing it would be my kind of flick. It was bizarre and yet good. Bizarrely good. Horror/comedy with a bit of camp. Everything you need to make a future cult classic. And of course the moment I found out it was based on a book, it went on my wishlist. And let me tell you, it is surprisingly hard to get a used copy of this book! (I was on a budget and trying not to give Amazon any more of my money.)
And after I finally got a copy, I didn't read it right away. Big mistake! Huge! If I could kick my own butt for waiting so long, I would.
The whole thing is told from David Wong's point of view (yes the author is also a character). I normally hate first person stories, but this was great. It's about David and John and their ridiculous shenanigans. It's like they get into the kind of situations that you just can't make up. I had a friend like that once. She would get into the craziest stuff, and I was there half the time, so I know she wasn't making it up.
In the story there's this drug called 'soy sauce' and it's pretty much a gateway to hell--or so Dave and John think. Crazy things happen when you're on the sauce, a whole new part of your mind is opened up to you. And once it's opened, there's no closing it!
John takes it on purpose, and Dave is accidentially stabbed by the needle he confiscated from John. Now they are seeing things they would have never wanted in a million years, ever wanted to see. And they're able to do things--almost supernatural type things. They get caught up in some serious mess all because of this 'soy sauce', and no matter how hard Dave tries to pull them out, John keeps dragging them in deeper. It's almost like their [undisclosed] town is situated on a hellmouth! And John and Dave are the 'slayers' poised to save the world.
Everything in this book is just insane. It's the right amount of dark, creepy, crazy and funny. It's like Evil Dead with two good Ashes. I loved every minute of it. And now I'm about to dive into the sequel as soon as I post this.
...Why does it always have to be spiders?!
"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.