John Dies at the End

John Dies at the End

4.5 376
by David Wong

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Recut. Remastered. Reanimated. And Back from the Dead...See more details below

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Recut. Remastered. Reanimated. And Back from the Dead...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this reissue of an Internet phenomenon originally slapped between two covers in 2007 by indie Permutus Press, Wong— 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.

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

David Wong is like a mash-up of Douglas Adams and Stephen King . . . 'page-turner' is an understatement.
author of Monster Island and Vampire Zero David Wellington

David Wong has managed to write that rarest of things---a genuinely scary story.
The Onion AV Club

The rare genre novel that manages to keep its sense of humor strong without ever diminishing the scares.

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.

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Product Details

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

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?

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