Review: John Dies at the End (John Dies at the End Book 1 of 2)

John Dies at the End - David Wong

This book was on a list from which I pull many of my reading selections.  Every time I noticed this title on that list, there was always a brief pause while I speculated about it.  Is John the main character?  Does he in fact die at the end of the book, or at the end of something else?  Is it a physical death, a metaphorical death, or a spiritual death?  Is it a complete lie?  I had many, many other theories, but I knew absolutely nothing about the book itself.  When the Kindle edition went on sale a month ago, I grabbed it so I could finally get some answers.

 

I’d believed this was a fantasy book, but it reads more like a horror story to me.  I could see reasons to classify it as either horror, fantasy, or science fiction, depending on which parts stick out the most to the reader.  I’m happy that I went into it completely blind, and I think a large part of the fun in reading this came from not knowing what to expect, so I’m afraid to try talking about the plot.  The story is crazy anyway, and the only way I could make it sound very sensible would be to explain things that aren’t revealed until near the end.  I’m going to limit myself to this: The main characters in the story are two early-twentyish males who are completely immature.  They get caught up in some… strange events.  Chaos ensues.

 

I’d be afraid to recommend this book to anybody, and yet I wish everybody I know would go read it right now so I can find out what they think when they’re done. :)  Most of the time, I was completely wrapped up in the story, but once in a while I would pause and think to myself, “Ok, now that’s just ridiculous.”  But even though this book has a lot of crazy stuff in it, the story still felt coherent and interesting.  It isn’t one of those stories where the author throws in every crazy thing he or she can imagine to the point that it overwhelms the story. 

 

There were some inconsistencies, most of which I blame on the unreliableness of the narrator rather than on problems with the writing itself.  There’s a lot of goriness, cussing, and crude humor.  There was also a lot of clever and truly funny stuff, and the story completely sucked me in.  It's told in a slightly non-linear fashion, which helped keep it interesting.  It wasn’t a terribly scary book, but there were some parts in the second half that did start to creep me out a little.  I think it probably depends on what scares you.  I could easily see other people being freaked out by completely different parts that didn’t bother me at all.  This is a complete story without any cliffhangers, but there were some interesting reveals near the end that I hope will be dealt with in more detail in the sequel.  The sequel is definitely the next book I intend to read.