If anyone ever asks me in the future, “What’s the most demented book you’ve ever read?” I won’t have to think about it very hard. It’s hard to imagine anything more bizarre than David Wong’s John Dies at the End. The best that I can describe it is to say that it’s a blend of horror and surrealism, with enough humor thrown in to spare your sanity.
It all starts at a party. David Wong (the narrator in this case, not the pseudonymous author) sees his friends taking off with another one of the guests. The next thing he knows, people are dead and anyone who took the drug starts to see really weird things, really weird things. The novel is framed by David telling his story to a reporter, and moves back and forth through time from the party and its aftermath to a massacre in Las Vegas to a horrific climax in another world.
After the party, David tells the reporter, he and his friend John (of the title) end up getting into the business of laying various weirdnesses to rest. They basically make it up as they go along. David is mostly clueless, but John seems to have a knack for figure out how to deal with things like floating giant Portuguese men o’war and giant scorpions wearing wigs. (After a while, you start to wonder what kind of drugs the author was one when he wrote this.)
Strangely enough, David Wong (the writer) manages to infuse this parade of bizarreness with enough heart to make you care for the characters just as much as you want to know what the hell is going on. David (the character) and John are obviously the kind of friends that will stick together through anything, and will take extraordinary risks to save each others’ lives.
If you do pick this book up, try to read it in as few sittings as possible. This book is tricky enough to follow as it is, without having to remember what you read 24 hours or more ago.