There’s absolutely no reason why I should like or even love this book. In fact, I’m not going to recommend it to anyone I’ve ever met (on the Internet or in real life)…ever…because I don’t want to be judged on this book. John Dies at the End is uneven, it definitely feels like something someone published piecemeal on the Internet before it was picked up by a publishing company (oh wait, it was), it needs a much better editor because there are issues with a capital ISSUES– but then again, it was also inventive, completely fun to read and simply bizarre (in a good way for me. Not for you, never for you!). So let me tell you the barest minimum about this book I don’t want you to ever read and associate with me.
We have two guys–David Wong (HEY! That’s the author’s name-now things are getting all meta up in here!) and his best friend John. They are your intelligent, yet underachieving loser heroes of our story-think Bill and Ted and the guys from Clerks get thrown into a blender for a reference point. After John does a new drug called “Soy Sauce” he becomes aware of other dimensions and is no longer confined to linear time…oh yeah, he can see the threats that are looming on the horizon for the human race…so of course, now David and John have to save the world.
I mentioned it earlier, and it bears repeating. The book has serious problems in terms of plot and pacing. Part one is wild weird and awesome, part two feels like a reset and a rehashing of part one (then I worried that maybe I had damaged my brain and that perhaps I didn’t really like part one). However you go on a roller coaster of quality of plot and time until the end, which I think is the payoff. The end is great, if you make it there. But will it be enough for you? Doubtful. So you gotta ask yourself a question: Do you like Big Trouble in Little China? How about Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension? If you answered yes…you’ll probably still hate this book and you’ll hate me for recommending it. So I’m not going to do it.
But if you do end up reading it, I should warn you…
There are a lot of dick jokes…and an exploding dog that comes back from the dead…and weird alien creatures wearing wigs. It’s kind of Hunter S. Thompsonesque (with a dash of Burroughs), if Hunter S. Thompson was writing for 13 year old boys who love gore and flatulance. So yeah, the humor? It’s not everyone’s bag. This book is an amalgam of horror, comedy, suspense, dimensional time travel and really just bizarre stuff. And I loved it. I’m only giving it 3 stars because of the major problems and the parts I would cut to streamline the action but in my heart of hearts, this is a five star rating (but I’d never tell you that, because you’re judge-y, I know you are, don’t deny it).
Check out the reviews on Goodreads. It’s probably the most divisive book reviewed. You can get a feel for how you would like it. Whatever you do–don’t watch the movie. It was horrible. Actually, I don’t know that–I turned it off early on.