Book Review: John Dies at the End by David Wong

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Arimus Adcock, Reporter

Since I’ve been reviewing a lot of electronic media recently, I figure I’ll mix things up by reviewing a book. The book I’ll be reviewing today has a special place in my heart because I have fallen in love with its off-the-wall absurdity. Before I get into the actual review, I should give some background on how the book was written. Jason Pargin, better known by his pen name David Wong, worked as a simple copy editor for a law firm and wrote this book as a side project. He published individual chapters of it online to his blog, never expecting it to go far. But the manuscript blew up, with as many as 70,000 people reading the online version during the seven years it was up. Due to this popularity, Wong was able to find a publisher who would take on the book and it was published on August 15, 2007. The book became so popular that in 2012 a movie was made off it (Don’t watch the movie, it is irritatingly mediocre).

To begin, the genre category can best be described as a horror/comedy, but with emotional nuance. The plot revolves around two slacker dudes in their early 20’s named Dave and John. Dave and John become monster hunters after a Bob Marley look-alike gives them a drug known as ‘soy-sauce’ at a concert. Soy-sauce, as it turns out, is a supernatural reality-enhancer that allows its users to see the paranormal side of reality that’s normally not visible to humans. After taking this drug, a whole bunch of hijinks ensue, and it culminates with a threat to the world that only John and Dave can stop. The book’s tone is certainly unique. This book is way funnier than it should be on one page, yet viscerally mortifying the next. The humor gets very crude and irreverent, so I would caution my more sensitive readers away from it. The characters in the book are well-developed and none of their motivations feel contrived. The book in its entirety is a very immersive read. 

No review of something would be fair without listing its negative aspects. However, I can’t find any with this book. I guess that it might feel a little outdated because Dave works at a video store, but I’m willing to forgive that. This story was published in the much more innocent year of 2007, after all. This book is simply excellent, and if you enjoy it as much as I did, then you’ll be happy to know that it’s part of a trilogy of books (I’ve read the whole trilogy myself, all its books are bangers). I strongly recommend this book. I’m giving this one a 9/10.