Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review: John Dies at the End

There is something to be said about the power of a good book. Books can take you on incredible journeys beyond your wildest imagination. Books can make you care about characters that don't even exist. Books can make you laugh out loud, weep uncontrollably, or send shivers down your spine. Then there are the books that make you glimpse into the dark abyss at the edge of insanity, making you question whether you believe what your eyes tell you. Books that can rip your mind to shreds and leave you shuddering at the very thought of your own shadow. I can tell you this much, boys and ghouls: the author of John Dies at the End is at least half way insane.

David Wong, the author and main character of the book, goes through what basically can be described as a few bad days of Lovecraftian levels. And it's all thanks to a little substance known only as "soy sauce." Trust me, this has nothing to do with condiments. "Soy sauce" is a substance, within this book's universe, that can basically open up the mind of whoever takes it. They start being able to read people's histories through their faces. Not only that, but suddenly they can see people who are not of this world. And those things are terrifying to a level greater than I can explain. David and his friend John must fight meat monsters, armies of wig demons, swarms of bugs from other dimensions, and a giant sentient organic computer. This is a weird one folks, not gonna lie.

As I understand it, it's a Lovecraftian story for two reasons. 1.) There's a focus on other dimensions and the "gods" of said dimensions. 2.) The depiction of lunacy when people find out the world isn't the way they thought it was. Now, I've never read a story by H.P. Lovecraft, but I have played Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth... Okay, I watched a Let's Play of it. But I believe the ideas and scares behind these stories are still pretty similar.

While the book is, by far, one of the freakiest books I have ever read, it IS supposed to be a horror comedy. And there are some legitimately funny moments. I mean, how could a frozen meat monster with a turkey for a head NOT be funny? However, most of the humor falls into the poop joke/penis joke/fart joke category. While at times it's a welcome comedic release from the tension of the rest of the book, sometimes it gets annoying. To be honest, I'm getting sick of the generation that keeps thinking fart jokes are funny. But I guess I've just gotta get over it. Not like they're ever gonna go away.

Anyway, as to the scares in this book, I am not kidding when I say this is the most terrifying book I've ever read. The suspense is perfect, worrying whether or not a character will actually make it through a scene, even when it's the MAIN character. The images are quite disturbing, including: the still laughing head of a mutilated corpse, a mutant centipede the size of a human torso... You know what? I don't need to give you anymore. The book can do that quite well for you.

One last thing the book does right. The twists are just... amazing. There is not one twist in this book I ever saw coming. You start guessing one thing happened or one explanation is possible and the book just completely slaps you and throws something else at you. And once you find out a few of the twists, you just HAVE to know what'll happen next. By definition, this book is a page turner, an up-all-night horror-fest that keeps you guessing.

There's a quote on the cover of this book that basically sums up my feelings: 'John Dies At The End... is a case of the author trying to depict actual, soul-sucking lunacy, and succeeding with flying colors." It hasn't given me nightmares (yet), but it was the scariest book and story I've ever seen. If this is Lovecraft's type of story, I seriously don't think I want to read Lovecraft any time soon. I don't think I can handle the insanity. As for this book, give it a read! That is, unless you'd like to go insane with curiosity.

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