No, He Really Doesn’t. “John Dies at the End”: A Review

I’ve been a big fan of Cracked ever since I started working in a cubicle. It’s one way of coping with life in the corporate grind. I honestly think we ought to have a Cracked Appreciation Day. Those dick jokes they crank out every day do help minimize the number of people jumping out and painting the sidewalks with their bloody innards.

So: Thanks, Cracked.

Anyway, this is not about Cracked. This is about a book I discovered, thanks to Cracked. David Wong (a pseudonym, for those who’ve already mentally conjured the image of a wise Asian man) is Cracked Senior Editor and author of “John Dies at the End”, aka JDatE. The book started out as a web series of sorts, which quickly snowballed into a book and — wait for it — a movie that’s already in post-prod. That’s as much of a writing success as anyone can hope for these days.

The Skinny: the book follows the adventures of David Wong and his friend John. These high school buddies come across the “Soy Sauce” — a literally out of this world drug that allows them to see and travel through time and space. It shows them the “Shadow Men” and other astral or semi-astral beings. The effects of the Soy Sauce are long-lasting, so now the bastards see ghosts AND find a way to make a name for themselves with this little talent of theirs.

Along the way, they come across ghouls, floating jellyfish, clones, zombies and whatever else seems to be inhabiting these world right along side us clueless twerps. Turns out there’s something sinister afoot: there are parallel worlds, the evil god Korrok and nasty worm things that burrow into humans and use them as breeding grounds.

Nasty.

Here’s the thing: Standing between us and bloody chaos are two of the most incompetent heroes ever made: David and John.
Right now I don’t think it would be proper to discuss the book “technically”, e.g. David Wong has the tendency to ramble lengthily, causing the prose to be less than fluid yadda yadda critics.

It does get a little difficult to follow the train of David Wong’s thought, but that’s explained as a side effect of the many adventures that he and John had while under the influence of the Soy Sauce. Even the narrative declares their adventures “unexplainable”, with no solid proof to back them up. It’s just a string of misdemeanors, felonies and homicides, if you really think about it.

The thing, though, is that it would be a great disservice to both David Wong and yourself to THINK too much. Certainly, there are occasional gems; poignant moments that allow you to peek into the humanity of Wong’s characters. But to expect this to be your new “Bhagavad Gita” is to expect too much.

This is not a book for introspection. This is not a book for cute insights. You do not read this and strive to leave with a more profound outlook in life.

NO. This is a fun exercise in stretching the limits of reality, which is really really what good fiction should be. It strains credulity but enigmatically pulls you back in with its sheer stupidity. John and David (the protagonists) are disgusting and crude, but you root for them as you would for any other hero.

They’re the John McClane of horror stories, if you will.

Kicking ass, taking no names.

Sometimes, that’s all a really good book should be.

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