John Dies at the End by David Wong

John Dies at the End  - David Wong

I've been side-eyeing this novel for a long time, so when a recent trip brought us to a used bookstore I picked up a copy. I usually don't for recent books still in print, but I'm glad I went on the cheap side for this one.


'John Dies at the End' is mostly David Wong telling his story to a reporter. After accidentally taking a strange drug known as 'Soy Sauce' he and his buddy John have gained notoriety for their ability to spot and intervene in supernatural problems. Wong, which is an alias for the character as well as the author, can't avoid sharing some details about his troubled youth and lots and lots of details about what a lonely, sad life he has.


The humor is juvenile, but effective. Its the language of a bro and loser who got in over their heads. The angle that the demons or whatever have an even lower, racist and homophobic, sense of humor is kind of funny. Any inconsistencies within the logic of the story is played off because of drugs, lies, and other hand-waving - which is also fine. I'm not going to read a goofy horror novel and expect internal consistency. The plot itself has no real momentum, and the book feels like the episodic piecemeal narrative the novel originated as. The real problem with the book is the female characters. There are only two substantial women in the book: 1. Jennifer Lopez who looks like J-Lo from behind and is a love interest; and 2. Amy, the younger sister of an early character, and who becomes a major character herself in the last act. There's also the dog, Molly, who arguably has a more fulfilling character arc then either woman.


All other women are either non-entity off-the-camera coworkers, party guests, victims, and girls John is having sex with - one gets a name and a brief speaking role so we can admire her breasts. Which, that's the market for this book, fine.


I've read worse, of course, Wong interjects a few paragraphs about women and how they're more than objects of desire, so he tried, I guess. The book had some entertaining absurdist moments. If I come across the sequels for less than wholesale I'll think about it.


John Dies at the End


Next: 'This Book is Full of Spiders'