Saturday, 13 November 2010

John Dies at the End by David Wong

I've been hunting around for this for a while, and I finally found it on import in a very nice horror, sf, fantasy bookshop in Edinburgh. I don't tend to buy books any more (not first hand anyway) but I didn't mind shelling out.

It's comedy horror by Jason Pargin, editor of the often very good David Wong's actually the narrator who, along with his friend John, fights unspeakable horror after accidently eating some black jizz from hell. Pair of slackers fight evil - not that groundbreaking - but it succeeds on two fronts. The horror elements are really strong and it's very funny. The opening section when they fight a meat monster ("the phrase 'sodomised by a bratwurst poltergeist' flew through my mind") is fantastic.

It's also got people being possessed by parasitical worms, a massive jellyfish in someone's house, a car full of cockroaches and an exploding dog. And there's always the sense that "is this really happening, or have I gone insane?" It works because the horror isn't treated as a joke - that comes from the characters, primarily John. He's a penis obsessed knucklehead with an endless supply of Arnie-type puns as he whacks demons. Wong is the opposite - a gloomy guilt-ridden pessimist who falls in love and learns that he isn't a hero. Luckily, he's also hilarious.

This works on lots of levels, but it is a little disjointed. It was originally posted online chapter by chapter. Great opening, a big climax half way through, treads water a little, then comes to a big satisfying conclusion. It could probably do with a bit of editing, but it's a pretty small grumble.

Thumbs up from me.


Bryce said...

Sounds good. I want you to bring me a bunch of books next time you come by. I'm half way through Slash's autobiography (spoiler: he has had a lot more drugs and sex than me).

Anyway, you don't get a lot of funny Asians... just saying.

Joe said...

He's not Asian. It's a pseudonym so "they" can't find him. He points out that wong's the most common name in the world

Joe said...

And you've always been a massive pussy compared with slash and me

Bryce said...

Finished it today. I really enjoyed it but get the whole 'disjointed' thing... At times I started to question if the story should be taken at face value and at times if it was going anywhere. At other times I think it moved at too much break-neck pace.
However it was always original, kept me interested, grossed me out and made me smirk. So all good.