John Dies at the End by David Wong (Jason Pargin)
As I was reading John Dies at the End, I was trying to figure out how to describe it to my friends. “If Dave Barry decided to write a horror novel, this would be it.” It’s very funny and has crazy situations all throughout the book. These situations are most often involve supernatural monsters that want to kill and/or maim the main protagonists. The humor comes in the forms of inner monologue, physical description, and dialogue. The author keeps up the pace and humor all through the book which is very rare and I commend him for it.
I was often laughing while simultaneously scared spitless. John Dies is very, very scary. I don’t often get frightened by simply reading a book. In my opinion, if a book can scare you, the author is doing something right. All you have is the writing on the page and your own imagination to work with. If that makes you scared, the author has made the book come alive for you in a very palpable way. This definitely happened for me. I felt like I was watching what was happening rather than reading about it. I would be glued to the page not looking up, hardly breathing, hoping against hope that the good guys were going to win. Very gripping.
One or two notes on the characters: David may be the ultimate anti-hero in that he really, REALLY doesn’t want to be the hero. His actions reflect that and makes for an interesting dynamic. John, on the other hand, is definitely the hero in his own head. He constantly, if inadvertently, drives David to be more heroic. The end result is a reluctant hero and a sidekick with delusions of grandeur.
The story seemed to be constructed solely as a backdrop for all the crazy things the author could come up with. This is not a book where storytelling is the point. The point is cramming in as many monsters made of cockroaches and phallic jokes as possible. I understand this. Unfortunately, it does take away from my personal reading experience.