John Dies at the End (John Dies at the End, #1) Book Review


This book is probably the most entertaining and FUN book I have read. . . in a decade. I genuinely had a really good time reading the majority of the book. So much so that the few scenes that weren’t riveting had that consequence — of being smushed in between some really interesting stuff and thus became way more boring then they would be if they were in another book.

Cover of "John Dies at the End"

Cover of John Dies at the End


Interpretations will vary, but for me, where this book thematically goes well is in the realm of Meta. What a book is and what a writer’s powers are becomes really clear when you read something so . . . absurd. This book heavily plays with the fact that whatever the author writes becomes very real to the reader. Even if it isn’t likely to happen. Plot holes, dialogues, and images that are extremely psychedelic just make sense in this Universe. Even it is as retarded as a half gorilla half crab. Retarded being a descriptor of the self-deprecating MC. . .

. . .Who’s voice I love. Yeah he has a curious plot twist but that’s not actually why he is interesting. He is interesting because he is very. . . real. This book really takes advantage of first pov when it has a MC with a really distinct 21st century young voice. Though I loved some of the puns (“Anybody else want to donate blood to chair-ity?”) this book was more. . . fun than funny. And a lot of the “fun” of it was the MC’s really casual voice. I would also argue that it is the casual voice that makes the horror so striking. Because you don’t expect this every-man to be as dark as he is.

So yeah, this is horror. I wouldn’t argue it isn’t. There are some images and ideas in here that reached to my fundamental fears and phobias — like Cockroach Man and people in your TV — but the real horror comes from the things that will last. The big ideas, y’know? Like, I’m always going to wonder about Todd now. It is deep in my subconscious.

Some other Theism/Free Will/Hell ideas were discussed. But Vonnegut and Anne Rice did it better. I guess that isn’t fair, but I read too many Vonnegut books that really spine-shaking deconstruct fee will (and same with Anne Rice and Heaven/Hell) for me to give this book its props. It was there but there were a lot of other things going on too in this book. For these themes and ideas to really take hold it needs more space. That’s my take.

Though I have some other critiques most of it I can really just push under the rug and still give this book five stars. I had a lot of fun reading it and I really appreciate all the risks Wong took in writing such a unique story. Yeah other books discuss similar big themes but whatever. That’s a vague similarity. I would be really surprised to read anything that is like this book unless this book IS the inspiration. Vonnegut is the closest thing but the Voices are way different. A key lesson to new writers to find and master your voice.

I’m ranting but I get like that when I get this excited.
This book in brief: Fun and casual but at the same time spilled-oil dark.

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