Book Review: John Dies at the End

Book Review: John Dies at the End by David Wong 
By Gabbie Zeller

What do you get when you cross “Soy Sauce,” two slackers, a ghost dog, and shadow people? You get the horror/comedy masterpiece, John Dies at the End by David Wong.

David Wong is the pseudonym used by Jason Pargin, an Illinois native. He is the chief editor of the humor website; a site that introduced me to more of his work.

I first came across John Dies at the End when I was a student page at my local library.  I was shelving books in the fiction section, when I came across a very peculiar book cover. The edition that my library owned had a dismembered arm with bright green nail polish on the fingernails. The back cover showed the where the arm had been severed and had the synopsis scrawled on a piece of notebook paper.  I remember reading the summary and thinking, what the heck is this? I thought it looked like some crazy train wreck of a novel that someone wrote trying to be “original.” Even though I wasn’t very convinced, for some reason, every time I passed that section, I looked to see if it was still there, hoping that I might eventually check it out.

Months later, after I had quit my job and gone to school, I had some free time and could not decide what book I wanted to read. I wanted something original that had to do with magical creatures or the paranormal. I remembered that odd book I had seen while I had been shelving.  I checked it out from the library over winter break, and was sucked into a world unlike any other I had ever seen.

Enter David Wong, a slacker who works with his best friend John at the local video store in his small, unnamed Midwestern town…or at least that’s how it used to be…when things were normal. David is sitting down with a journalist in a small restaurant discussing the peculiar events that had happened recently involving missing people, demons, and a mysterious drug called, “Soy Sauce” that allows one to see the paranormal.

Unfortunately, I cannot divulge many details on the incidents that occur involving David and John, a dog named Maggie, and some really bizarre creatures. What I can tell you is this: if you want a morbidly hilarious jaw dropping horror farce, this is a book for you. Pargin does a great job creating a secret world within a world that we think we know. At times, this book is confusing, but if you keep plugging along, it’ll be worth it. There were so many times when my jaw dropped and I thought: did that really just happen? Are you kidding me? Jason Pargin creates a universe unlike any other that I have ever encountered. His descriptions make you feel like you are with David and John experiencing the disgusting world that the “Sauce” allows them to see. I could not put this book down. I had to know what happened next and was even yelled at by family members to put it away…Oops.

There were so many things I wanted to know. Does John really die at the end? Will the shadow people take over our dimension? Does the journalist believe David’s story? These questions and more are all answered in the novel. Don’t forget the most important question that still remains: how come you haven’t read it yet?

About the Writer:
My name is Gabriella Zeller, and I am a freshman English major at DePaul. I am from Peoria, IL, three hours south of Chicago. I love to write short stories and hope to go into editing/publishing one day. I believe that to be a good writer, one must be an avid reader. Reading is an important hobby instilled in me at a young age by my family. I enjoy reading all types of books and here are a few of my favorites: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Starter for Ten by Andrew Nicholls, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy by Steig Larsson.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: John Dies at the End

  1. Great write-up. I’m glad you liked the book so much. There’s a sequel already out, a third book that should be making its way eventually, as well as a JDatE movie that came out in December. I wrote a review on my blog (sorry for shamelessly plugging it :P) to the sequel, This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It. Since you liked JDatE so much, however, I doubt you’d need to read a review to at least consider buying it though.

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