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John Dies at the End

John Dies at the End

4.5 380
by David Wong

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David Wong has updated the Lovecraft tradition and infused it with humor that rather than lessening the horror, increases it dramatically. Every time I set the book down down, I was wary that something really was afoot, that there were creatures I couldn't see, and that because I suspected this, I was next. Engaging, comic, and terrifying.-- Joe Garden,


David Wong has updated the Lovecraft tradition and infused it with humor that rather than lessening the horror, increases it dramatically. Every time I set the book down down, I was wary that something really was afoot, that there were creatures I couldn't see, and that because I suspected this, I was next. Engaging, comic, and terrifying.-- Joe Garden, Features Editor, The Onion
"Wong is like a mash-up of Douglass Adams and Stephen King... 'page-turner' is an understatement."
--Don Coscarelli, director, Phantasm I-V, Bubba Ho-tep

"That rarest of things--a genuinely scary story."--David Wellington, author of Monster Island, Vampire Zero

"JOHN DIES AT THE END has a cult following for a reason: it's horrific, thought-provoking, and hilarious all at once. This is one of the most entertaining and addictive novels I've ever read."--Jacob Kier, Publisher, Permuted Press

STOP. You should not have touched this flyer with your bare hands. NO, don't put it down. It's too late. They're watching you. My name is David Wong. My best friend is John. Those names are fake. You might want to change yours. You may not want to know about the things you'll read on these pages, about the sauce, about Korrok, about the invasion, and the future. But it's too late. You touched the book. You're in the game. You're under the eye. The only defense is knowledge. You need to read this book, to the end. Even the part with the bratwurst. Why? You just have to trust me.

The important thing is this: The drug is called Soy Sauce and it gives users a window into another dimension. John and I never had the chance to say no. You still do. I'm sorry to have involved you in this, I really am. But as you read about these terrible events and the very dark epoch the world is about to enter as a result, it is crucial you keep one thing in mind: None of this was my fault.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this reissue of an Internet phenomenon originally slapped between two covers in 2007 by indie Permutus Press, Wong—Cracked.com editor Jason Pargin's alter ego—adroitly spoofs the horror genre while simultaneously offering up a genuinely horrifying story. The terror is rooted in a substance known as “soy sauce,” a paranormal psychoactive that opens video store clerk Wong's—and his penis-obsessed friend John's—minds to higher levels of consciousness. Or is it just hell seeping into the unnamed Midwestern town where Wong and the others live? Meat monsters, wig-wearing scorpion aberrations and wingless white flies that burrow into human skin threaten to kill Wong and his crew before infesting the rest of the world. A multidimensional plot unfolds as the unlikely heroes drink lots of beer and battle the paradoxes of time and space, as well as the clichés of first-person-shooter video games and fantasy gore films. Sure to please the Fangoria set while appealing to a wider audience, the book's smart take on fear manages to tap into readers' existential dread on one page, then have them laughing the next. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
Two wisecracking slackers attempt to thwart an invasion by supernatural beings. When smart but troubled video-store employee David gets a peculiar late-night phone call from a friend, he assumes John is just having another of his semi-regular drug- or alcohol-induced freakouts. But as progressively more bizarre events unfold over the next few hours, David realizes that things are different this time. It turns out John had spent the preceding evening with a man with a fake Jamaican accent named Robert Marley and had taken a strange drug called Soy Sauce, which gives users incredibly heightened awareness-along with a few odd side effects that all too often include a grisly demise. By the next afternoon, David has also inadvertently taken some Soy Sauce, been dragged to the police station for questioning about a series of gruesome deaths and received another odd call from John, after John has expired in the interview room next door. Things only gets stranger from there, as David and John (who doesn't stay dead for long) discover they are the thin, oddball line of defense between life as we know it on this planet and dark invaders from somewhere else entirely. Originally offered online in serial form, Wong's debut is creepy, snide, gross, morbidly dark and full of lots of gratuitous weirdness for weirdness' sake, not to mention penis jokes. So why is it so funny? Perhaps it's the author's well-tuned eye for the absurd, which gives his tale a compelling-against-all-odds, locker-room-humor-meets-Douglas-Adams vibe. The characters are also unexpectedly sharp, rarely the kind of two-dimensional cutouts frequently found in genre fiction. While the clunky text sometimes reads as though Wong hadshoved together several different episodes against their will, it nonetheless satisfies narrative demands that could have conflicted. When it's funny, it's laugh-out-loud funny, yet when the situation calls for chills, it provides them in spades. Lowbrow, absurdist horror/comedy that works-a difficult trick to pull off.
From the Publisher

John Dies at the End…[is] a case of the author trying to depict actual, soul-sucking lunacy, and succeeding with flying colors.” —Fangoria

“David Wong is like a mash-up of Douglas Adams and Stephen King . . . ‘page-turner' is an understatement.” —Don Coscarelli, director, Phantasm I–V and Bubba Ho-tep

“David Wong has managed to write that rarest of things---a genuinely scary story.” —David Wellington, author of Monster Island and Vampire Zero

“The rare genre novel that manages to keep its sense of humor strong without ever diminishing the scares.” —The Onion AV Club

“Sure to please the Fangoria set while appealing to a wider audience, the book's smart take on fear manages to tap into readers' existential dread on one page, then have them laughing the next.” —Publishers Weekly

“When it's funny, it's laugh-out-loud funny, yet when the situation calls for chills, it provides them in spades.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The book takes every pop culture trend of the past twenty years, peppers it with 14-year-old dick and fart humor, and blends it all together with a huge heaping of splatterpunk gore…. Successfully blend[s] laugh-out-loud humor with legitimate horror.” —i09.com

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
John Dies at the End , #1
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Read an Excerpt

Prologue Solving the following riddle will reveal the awful secret behind the universe, assuming you do not go utterly mad in the attempt. If you already happen to know the awful secret behind the universe, feel free to skip ahead. Let’s say you have an ax. Just a cheap one, from Home Depot. On one bitter winter day, you use said ax to behead a man. Don’t worry, the man was already dead. Or maybe you should worry, because you’re the one who shot him. He had been a big, twitchy guy with veiny skin stretched over swollen biceps, a tattoo of a swastika on his tongue. Teeth filed into razor-sharp fangs—you know the type. And you’re chopping off his head because, even with eight bullet holes in him, you’re pretty sure he’s about to spring back to his feet and eat the look of terror right off your face. On the follow-through of the last swing, though, the handle of the ax snaps in a spray of splinters. You now have a broken ax. So, after a long night of looking for a place to dump the man and his head, you take a trip into town with your ax. You go to the hardware store, explaining away the dark reddish stains on the broken handle as barbecue sauce. You walk out with a brand new handle for your ax. The repaired ax sits undisturbed in your garage until the spring when, on one rainy morning, you find in your kitchen a creature that appears to be a foot-long slug with a bulging egg sac on its tail. Its jaws bite one of your forks in half with what seems like very little effort. You grab your trusty ax and chop the thing into several pieces. On the last blow, however, the ax strikes a metal leg of the overturned kitchen table and chips out a notch right in the middle of the blade. Of course, a chipped head means yet another trip to the hardware store. They sell you a brand new head for your ax. As soon as you get home, you meet the reanimated body of the guy you beheaded earlier. He’s also got a new head, stitched on with what looks like plastic weed trimmer line, and it’s wearing that unique expression of “you’re the man who killed me last winter” resentment that one so rarely encounters in everyday life. You brandish your ax. The guy takes a long look at the weapon with his squishy, rotting eyes and in a gargly voice he screams, “That’s the same ax that beheaded me!” Is he right?

Meet the Author

David Wong is the pseudonym of Jason Pargin, online humorist, National Lampoon contributor, and editor in chief of Cracked.com.

DAVID WONG is the pseudonym of Jason Pargin, Senior Editor and columnist for humor megasite Cracked.com. Visit him at www.johndiesattheend.com.

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John Dies at the End 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 380 reviews.
ratdude More than 1 year ago
When I first read the original weekly installments on the internet, I lost a day's productivity at work each week. Not that it took me a day to read it - I'm a slow reader but not THAT slow. It's that it stuck with me, it crept around in my head all day making me suddenly laugh out loud one moment and other times causing me to quickly turn my head to catch a glimpse of a shadow that I was sure I had seen out of the corner of my eye but now wasn't there. It drew me in to it's world. By the end of the day I had rationalized it enough that I was OK. Until the next week. Then when the book came out (not this one, a limited release under a different publisher) I was lucky enough to get it signed by the author. He even drew a little unsmiley face on it. I'd describe it to you but I haven't checked it today to see what it currently looks like. I keep the book on a shelf behind my computer at home where I can always see it. Not because I pick it up and re-read it often. Because I want to make sure I always know where it is, in just that specific cockeyed position, so I know that no one else in the house but me has read it. Because I love my family. The book (and just to be clear, I use that word with reluctance, since those of us who have read it know that...well I can't explain it, nevermind) is about a couple of friends, John and Dave, who live in a midwestern town. You may identify with one or the other of them at various points in the story...especially with John if you have a large genital member, a large ego, and little appreciation for the fact that actions have consequences. Uh, unless you're a chick, in which case scratch that genital member part...wait that didn't quite come out the way I meant it. Um, Anyhow, the plot..So these two friends end up imbibing "Soy Sauce" - a drug that opens up the supernatural world to your senses - and they realize that their town is basically the beachhead for a supernatural invasion. They encounter unbelievable horror, some of the really gross kind and some of the really "shocks-the-mind-into-numbness-and-disbelief" kind. And they also encounter unbelievable comedy, some of the really gross kind and some of the really "makes-you-laugh-even-though-its-inappropriate-to-do-so-right-now" kind. And they often encounter both horror and comedy at the same moment. The story is good. It's so good you won't want to put the book down. And sometimes you'll just be too scared to put it down. It must truly be read to be understood. But once you understand, it won't leave you alone. In fact, it's already too late for you. You're reading these reviews, so you're in the game. THEY know you're reading these reviews, and THEY won't leave you alone now. I'm so sorry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like Burroughs, Vonnegut, and Lovecraft had a baby and that baby got whiskey drunk, took a handful of Adderall and stayed up for3 days writing a horror novel.
Thomas_Gilroy More than 1 year ago
From the moment I read the dedication, I knew that this was the book for me. When I finished the Prologue, there was no question of whether or not I would enjoy it. But when I try to explain John Dies at the End, I am forced to end with "Just... read it, okay?" The book leaps over genres with feckless abandon and changes pace at a brilliant, though never sickening, speed, like a peregrine falcon wearing a dust jacket. I could take a moment to crudely carve out various possible niches for the book. It will fit "comedy" and "horror", but not perfectly, which is the problem (and beauty) of David Wong's work: any attempt to classify it always feels wrong, like a diploma displayed on a slant or a bike trail added to a narrow road. In fact, the best piece of advice I could offer a potential reader is this: the book is not a Capital Letter Genre book. It is not a Horror book, but it contains horror. It is not a Comedy novel, although the book will reduce you to quaking with silent mirth, as you are too busy laughing to even make noise. It is not a Romantic novel, but characters fall in love. I could go on. To put it simply, the book is more than the total of its parts. It is too big, too bold, too wonderful, to be contained by descriptors. I could tell you that the book has jokes and scary moments, but it is so much more than a book with jokes and scary moments. It is a book that can only be defined by itself. I will put this next sentence in a new paragraph, where it can be clearly seen: Do not let any part of this book, or any genre that it is listed as, scare you away from it. To elaborate: if you do not like horror, buy it. If you are not looking for humor, get it. If you don't feel like thinking, read it. Yes, it will scare you, and yes, it will make you laugh, and yes, it will make you think. But in the end it will not matter, because you will be glad that you have read this book. What makes Wong's writing so powerful is, again, hard to classify. It is not his comedic timing (which is brilliant), and it is not his characterization (though it is impeccable). If I was pressed for one explanation, it would be his understanding--of human behavior, of human emotion, of reality, of fantasy. If you don't believe me, just look at this review I am writing, here. I have tried several times to explain why I think you should read this book, and I am not sure I have done the job. I know I have barely touched on the book's plot, except in vague terms. I have to weigh including details against the space I have for recommending it, and I'm trying (and failing) to hit all the points briefly before running out of room. But look at how hard I've tried. It's taken me forever to write this review, to re-read it, to re-type it, to slave over each phrasing. So if you want any evidence of how powerful this book is, look no further than this. Whether or not you are inspired by my praise, it exists, and I have devoted a considerable amount of time to writing it. It would seem that it is important to me that you think about buying this book. And it is. I really, truly care about whether or not you buy this book, because I like it, and I am convinced that you will like it as well. I've spent my time on this because John Dies at the End is not only a book, but a book that is fantastic, incredible, and entertaining, and that has inspired at least one person to type out the maximum number of charac
BoneStatic More than 1 year ago
This is really worth picking up. The hardcover has a great build-quality and the selected font is easy on the eyes. The cover art is great, proving the same experience as reading the process inside--It makes you smile then grimace. The characters and pacing of the book are spot-on. It reads a bit like a comic book, but with a higher degree of character development and environmental detail. The story is gripping, creepy (like, really creepy), and goes through enough peaks and valleys to keep you turning the page.
MaximusBonesteel More than 1 year ago
This is a very hard book to describe. No one does it better than David Wong himself, both on the book's jacket and website, JohnDiesattheEnd.com. This difficulty stems directly from book's greatest strength: the writing. Make no mistake, the plot is good. It is engaging and accessible to someone looking for simple entertainment, yet impressively deep if you care enough to gaze into that abyss. This makes it a perfect candidate for re-reads. There is always something more you pick-up on, no matter how many times you read it. Or, alternatively, I am quite dense. Regardless, one read is definitely not enough. However, you could read the most descriptive plot summary imaginable and still miss the true quality of John Dies at the End. David Wong's narration stands head-and-shoulders above the sea of giants made up by the strengths of this book. It contains humor greater than most comedies - rightly so, given David Wong's background as an online humorist - and it keeps a pace and maintains an atmosphere that makes the book a legitimately scary story. The humor is saturated to a point that every page contains something that will elicit an audible laugh but it is refined enough to not interfere with the story. This also adds to the book's re-readability, as I find myself noticing new, understated jokes every time. In a closely trailing second comes the characterizations. The people in this book are cut from a cloth that was woven specifically for this story. No where else is their type found - the title character, John, and the author's avatar, David, especially. "Lovable screw-ups" would be the most general term, but their simultaneous intelligence, stupidity and hilarity put them in a separate class all their own (it is the one held in the boiler room, with the tenured teacher who's stopped caring and where every student is trapped in the showed-up-for-a-test-unprepared-and-naked dream every single day). There is one important caution: this book is not for the easily offended and is definitely for mature audiences only. It is essentially what you might expect from a story centered around college-aged kids of less than respectable repute. If this causes you concern, read some of David Wong's other work first at http://www.cracked.com/members/David+Wong. Really, the only way to get a feel for this book and to understand how it went from free, online and serially published to being distributed by a multinational publisher, is to read it for yourself. This is my best recommendation and I have never had anyone follow it and come back anything but a new life-long fan of Wong.
KalliJ More than 1 year ago
You're introduced to John and Dave by accompanying them on one of their "exorcisms", and the story proceeds, without the slightest pause to draw breath, to take you on a terrifying yet hilarious coal-mining-cart ride through the darkest portions of this or any other Universe, with brief forays into the blinding light. David Wong tells his story in such a straightforward manner that many times I found myself reading some lines over again; (did I *really* read a description of a horrifying creature wearing a wig? "It had a head that was sort of an inverted heart shape, a bank of mismatched eyes in an arc over a hooked, black beak, like a parrot's. On its head, no kidding, it had a tuft of neatly groomed blond hair that I swear on my mother's grave was a wig, held on by a rubberband chinstrap." Yes. Yes, I did.) After reading this book you will be more suspicious of the things you almost but don't quite not see out of the corner of your eye.
Etyx More than 1 year ago
JDATE is the most amazing story I have ever read. It took everything I knew about how things worked, threw it in a blender, and hit Frappe. This story will in one moment make you silently laugh in extreme mirth at John's rediculous jerkishness, or David Wongs pessimistic sarcasm, and the next you will hear a cryptic analogy that will keep you up nights. Not that the book itself won't keep you up because you will not be able to put down this book, I promise you that. My brother has never willingly read a book in his life, not reading any book bigger than "The Lightning Theif" but when he picked up this book he didn't put it down. David Wong has an understanding on how people react to fear, he knows what really scares us. He knows its not monsters that scares us, but the possibility that the monsters don't haunt houses, that they haunt minds. I have read the book multiple times, and every joke still continues to make me laugh, dispite the fact that its not strictly a horror or comedy story. I will reiterate another review when I say that even if you don't like one of the many genres in this book, buy it and read it anyways. I promise you it will rock your world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really one of the best books I have ever read. Found this book in its free version about 3 installments into the weekly update years ago and immediately became obsessed. From printing the web version to buying all the different versions once it finally came out, to stalking the site for updates and making all my friends read it. Buy it, read it and join the cult.
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
This book is about John and David, two college dropouts who encounter creatures from other worlds after taking the drug known as soy sauce. This book is both funny and frightening. There is a lot of blood and gore, yet there are laugh out loud moments also. JOHN DIES AT THE END by David Wong is a mix between Stephen King and Douglas Adams, with a little juvenile humor tossed in. I must admit I picked up the book because I like the title. Actually enjoying the book was a bonus.
Robit More than 1 year ago
And that is the damn truth! You'll buy this book right now. You'll buy it and love it. You'll open the first page and be like, "Holy crap! This is amazing!" but you'll have read only the first line. Then you will read the whole thing nonstop until the end, and your brain will explode several times in the process. But it's good exploding. Then you'll read it again and again and laugh the whole time but also be scared. Good stuff.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
John dies at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely LOVED this book and the sequel. Seriously... just read it. Its awesome.
Freelock More than 1 year ago
This book is a gem. The plot is well-made, the dialogue and narrative are blithe and witty, and each chapter will leave you asking for another. Pick it up as soon as you can!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I do not know where to even begin. First off, this book is definitely NOT for the young and definitely not for the easily offended. Oh, and not for the faint of heart either. I grabbed this book when I was checking out new releases and found the sequel to this. It looked so good, I realized I should probably read the first so I would not be playing catch up. All I can say is WOW!! This book had it all! Ridiculous humor, super scary stuff, and somewhere in the middle a great insight about some things. If you like a good zombie book, this has to be the best I have ever picked up. But I warn you, it is oh, oh, oh so much more than just a zombie book. Loved it, loved it, loved it! Read it, read it, read it!! Cannot wait to started on the next! Thanx Mr. Wong, I am COMPLETELY addicted. -- SPeeD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This author must have a.d.d. I bought the second one, though. All hail korrock.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All the other reviews take way too much time to tell you this is a great book. Read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved. Funny and sad mixed with funny and horrifying makes a great combo. I tore through the novel like a fire and regret nothing.
mrsbrimtown More than 1 year ago
Funny, great book. I'm looking forward to reading there's spiders in this book next. Hopefully David Wong keeps writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was fun to read! Plus crazy as hell! I have already started the second book (This Book is full of Spiders) and just as good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The only way i can describe this book is that it is beautifully executed madness great read and really hilarious
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever. Seriously. Penis jokes, meat monsters, wig monsters, ghosts, secret agencies, body snatchers. What more could you want. This is seriously the best book ever. It's the best book ever like The White Stripes are the best band ever, like Daniel Tosh is the best comedian ever, like early Kevin Smith movies are the best comedies. Buy the book. You'll love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was funny and completely engaging. I highly reccommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great balance of humor and sci-fi and silly penis jokes...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the reviews, then the sample, then had to buy it. Out of plain curiosity if nothing else. I disagree with anyone that says this is " the funniest" or the "scariest" book they have ever read. Obviously they dont do much reading. However it is an excellent story line and genuinely good read. It has a lot of things that seem similair to alot of books i have read but when combined they turn into a true original. Cant wait for the movie! One major complaint. Worst ending of any book i have ever read...without a doubt. I dont want to post spoilers but i will say at the end you WILL be dissppointed.
masskonfuzion More than 1 year ago
This book is truly laugh-out-loud funny and also scary. The jokes are casually interspersed, but they're expertly placed. It's hard to describe; the book is just simply funny. Also, the scary parts are genuinely scary. If you have an active imagination, you will likely see some disturbing visuals in your mind. Most importantly, the story is engaging. I didn't want to put it down at all (I only stopped reading intermittently because of stupid interruptions, such as life, social activity, sleep, and education.. barring those things, I probably would have read it all in one sitting). My only disappointment was with the ending. It doesn't really resolve, but then again, there is a sequel on the way. All in all, I'd recommend this book.