Review: John Dies at the End, by David Wong

John Dies at the End, by David Wong

Official Synopsis

STOP. You should not have touched this flyer with your bare hands. NO, don’t put it down. It’s too late. They’re watching you. My name is David Wong. My best friend is John. Those names are fake. You might want to change yours. You may not want to know about the things you’ll read on these pages, about the sauce, about Korrok, about the invasion, and the future. But it’s too late. You touched the book. You’re in the game. You’re under the eye. The only defense is knowledge. You need to read this book, to the end. Even the part with the bratwurst. Why? You just have to trust me.

The important thing is this: The drug is called Soy Sauce and it gives users a window into another dimension. John and I never had the chance to say no. You still do. I’m sorry to have involved you in this, I really am. But as you read about these terrible events and the very dark epoch the world is about to enter as a result, it is crucial you keep one thing in mind:None of this was my fault.

Review

What a wonderfully Animorphs-esque synopsis, am I right?

David Wong (the author, not the character), is the head editor for Cracked.com and the man I hold responsible for creating the clickbait menace. His roots are obvious here – it basically reads like a fan fiction of Cracked’s most prolific writers. Whether or not you like Cracked.com will decide entirely what you’ll think of this book. Personally, I’m a fan, and this book was hilarious.

It immediately draws you in with a riddle, promptly followed by doorknobs turning into dicks, and an entire monster made from frozen meat products. The story, told in three acts, bounces from one zany idea to the next, making such little sense that you almost feel like you’re on “the sauce” yourself. If there’s one thing I can’t say about David Wong, it’s that he lacks for imagination.

Bratwurst Poltergeist

The phrase “sodomized by a bratwurst poltergeist” suddenly flew through my mind.

Apparently, John Dies at the End was originally published as a web serial. The three acts feel disjointed, more the episodes in a story than one cohesive whole. It slogs in the middle, as you become unsure of what any of this is even about. As expected, the novelty of Cracked-flavored fiction eventually wears off, and you’re left with the story and the characters.

The story is utter nonsense. The characters aren’t particularly likable either. David proves to be vile, as he reveals the actions of his past and continual selfish behavior. Jennifer and Aimee might as well be the same person, minus the hand. John was only interesting in that I kept picturing him as Alan Ritchson, ripping his shirt off at every opportunity and talking about dicks.

Alan Ritchson, My John That Dies at the End

Why he didn’t play John in the movie, I’ll never know.

Luckily, there’s a twist at the end that sucked me right back in and redeemed a lot of my complaints about the novel, when David loses time and finds himself with blood on his hands. It drove me to finally finish, and appreciate the novel for what it is.

The Movie

John Dies at the End Film Poster

As soon as I finished the book, I finally allowed myself to watch the movie.

It started out promising, and I could barely contain my excitement at seeing the bratwurst poltergeist. They even used practical effects! The dialogue is almost word-for-word quoted from the books, and you begin to think that this could be the most accurate movie adaptation in existence.

Of course, they had to go and fuck it all up.

John Dies at the End

While they nailed the supporting cast, the three leads were so incredibly not my leads it rivals even the X-Men films. The incoherent David in the movie seemed more like he stepped off the set of Trainspotting than he resembled the selfish, but mostly level-headed David of the books. Jennifer was merged into Aimee’s character, which I totally get, but they took out Aimee’s entire story. Literally the only thing she did in both the book and the movie is open some door. Not once did I see Alan Ritchson, so I’m not satisfied with John either.

They tried really hard, going so far as (inconsistently) having David narrate to preserve some of the inner-monologue jokes. But they missed one GIANT THING. That huge twist that saved the whole novel is nowhere to be found, tossed aside in favor of the most useless scenes the book had to offer.

See, the plot in the novel was just a vehicle for whatever joke or crazy idea David Wong had in mind. The movie took itself too seriously and focused on all the wrong aspects. Instead of skipping the middle, where the novel completely loses focus, they skipped the stellar ending and stopped in the slog. Because it was taking the plot so seriously, the jokes are muddled in translation and it all just turns out like a really bad high. When it’s over, you wake up and wonder what the fuck happened to you.

Kudos for an awesome introduction, but I vote for skipping it until you’ve read the novel.

Quotables

The phrase “sodomized by a bratwurst poltergeist” suddenly flew through my mind.

“John, let me make one thing clear,” Jim said, cutting me off in his most stern, evangelical voice. “Every man is blessed with his gifts from the Lord. One of mine happens to be a penis large enough that, if it had a penis of its own, my penis’s penis would be larger than your penis.”

“You’re the kind of man a man wants when a man wants a man.”

I WOULD LIKE to pause for a moment, to talk about my penis. My penis is like a toddler. A toddler—who is a perfectly normal size for his age—on a long road trip to what he thinks is Disney World. My penis is excited because he hasn’t been to Disney World in a long, long time, but remembers a time when he used to go every day. So now the penis toddler is constantly fidgeting, whining, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How about now? Now? How about . . . now?” And Disney World is nowhere in sight.

“I’m burning out, John. Seriously. I don’t know if I’m up for this. I feel stretched out, like too little butter scraped over too much waffle. And then it all falls down into one of the waffle holes and there’s none left for the rest of the waffle and you sort of have to tilt it to make it run out.”

John Dies at the End is a fun ride if you’re able to let go of all logical reason and simply enjoy it for what it is: insane, hilarious nonsense. I guarantee that you’ll laugh in at least the first few chapters, but I can’t guarantee how long you’ll last before you’re just over it. If given the choice between the book or the movie, definitely go for the book. The twist at the end makes so much of the story worth slogging through, and it’s a shame the film saw fit to go without.

John Dies at the End

John Dies at the End
7.4

Characters

6/10

Story

6/10

Laughs

10/10

Pace

6/10

Ending

9/10

The Good

  • Hands down, one of the funniest books I have ever read.
  • Insane. There is literally nothing else like it.
  • Sodomized by a Bratwurst Poltergeist.

The Bad

  • The novelty of the comedy will eventually wear off.
  • The pace lags considerably in the middle.
  • No coherent storyline.

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