“John Dies at the End,” by David Wong, is the essence of a cult classic horror film distilled into book form. The story thrashes between absurd and creepy like Peter Dinklage singing on Sesame Street. There were moments I had to put the book down, stare at the cover, and ask myself, “What am I reading?”
Although an answer to that question is yet to be discovered, I kept reading; diving further down the rabbit hole. It wasn’t that the book was too weird to accept, far from it, the disturbing aspect is the ease the reader accepts it. The premise is a combination of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “Doom,” where the two main characters take “soy sauce” that allows them to see into other dimensions. Go ahead and read the first chapter, the logic goes downhill from there: hell, monsters, Korrok, bratwurst, and improvised flamethrowers, this is real life. It’s too late to back out now, they can see you. No, closing the window doesn’t fix it; you have to read the book.
Regardless, the book makes use of it’s situation from multiple angles, including a number of bad flamethrower and chair puns that just work:
“‘GENTLEMAN, I WOULD LIKE TO PROPOSE A TOAST!‘ And then, the whole world was on fire. Heat and light and horrible, inhuman shrieks.”
And finally, “Anybody else want to donate blood to chair– ity?”
This book encourages prolonged reading, getting better with every minute spent towards it. Don’t attempt to summarize or simplify it, this is like “Rocky Horror Picture Show;” just experience it and enjoy the ride.
Though this may seem like some cheap gag book without any real worth, it’s surprisingly well-written. The characters are all well developed and thought out, with some amazing plot twists later on.There is a film adaptation by Don Coscarelli, with Paul Giamatti starring in and producing it, perhaps the most suited persons to work on this movie. Be warned though, the book is always better, and the movie cuts out some of the best parts.