John Dies at the End

REVIEW: John Dies at the End by David Wong

Normally I’d give a general overview of the book I’m reviewing, whether that’s what’s on the blurb of the book or my own synopsis, but with John Dies at the End I’m not really sure I can. The blurb is weird and vague and gives now real information except warnings not to read the book, but now that you’ve picked it up bad things are going to happen and you can’t unlearn the fact there’s an “otherwordly invasion currently threatening to enslave humanity”. So needless to say, going into John Dies at the End I really did not know what to expect. I will say it’s about two friends, John and David (the book is from his perspective and parts of it has him recounting events of the book to a reporter), and how they can see things that aren’t there and go on adventures as they try and figure out what’s going on.

Even though I’ve now read John Dies at the End, I still can’t describe it. It’s a weird, creepy horror story with paranormal elements and drug-induced psychoses and a dog that’s perhaps immortal. At this point I’m not even sure I really liked it but there was something about it that was super compelling and kept me reading. Perhaps it’s because so much strange and/or unsettling things were happening all the time so I ended up feeling like I was just going along for the ride and was waiting to see what on Earth was going to happen next – and if anything was ever really explained.

There were some answers but not enough for me and the answers we did get often led to more questions. There’s so many moments when characters aren’t sure they can believe what they’re seeing and as this is being told from David’s point of view, you end up doubting things too. It’s really quite the strange reading experience.

I think I preferred the first third of John Dies at the End, mainly because that really set the scene in terms of the creepiness with horrifying creatures and the general unnerving feeling of something not being right. While I knew John Dies at the End was classed as a horror story, the kind of weirdness and horror it had was so unexpected that it was more shocking and interesting to begin with. There’s also a time skip about a third of the way though and I’m generally not a fan of time skips so that didn’t really do much for me, especially as the first third was so action-packed and interesting. As John Dies at the End is a 460-page book, variations of the same weirdness did get a bit repetitive over time and I did find the last 100 pages or so a bit more of a drag even though more and more things were being revealed.

Character-wise David seems to be a bit of a spectator to his own life and gets dragged into this situation by John and though he’s pretty resourceful, a lot of it comes down to dumb luck. The same can be said for John but pretty much everything that came out of John’s mouth was cringe-inducing as it often revolved around his penis or making himself seem more strong/smart/skilled than he was. These two guys are just average twenty-somethings and so there is the internet-related, kinda gross boys’ humour that you might expect which at times I did find myself skimming over.

John Dies at the End was an interesting reading experience. As I said, I preferred the beginning when it was all new and unexpected (one of the first sequences inside a supposedly haunted house was genuinely suspenseful and surprising) and as the plot progresses it gets more and more wild which some may love while others may find ridiculous – I was on the fence about it. I didn’t like John but being in David’s head wasn’t so bad and his sense of imagination really did paint a vivid picture when it came to some of the creatures they encountered or horrifying (and sometimes really gross) situations they found themselves in. 3/5.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Autumn 2022 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. I’m actually really excited about this TBR as this is the first one in years where I don’t have any books for my Read the World Project as I’ve completed it! I still have a couple of reviews to post and am planning to do a wrap-up post as well talking about the project but that book-related chapter of my life is done! I still have two books for the 12 Books from 12 Friends challenge but besides from that I have no more compulsory reads. It’s going to be feel very weird to be a proper mood reader with no restrictions and to read books that feel seasonal and everything.

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
This 12 Challenge book is one I don’t think I’d even heard of before it was recommended to me which is half the fun of the challenge. It looks to be a contemporary YA about a teen who’s struggling with his cultural identity and mental health. I don’t read contemporary YA that often so I’m looking forward to seeing what I make of it.

John Dies at the End by David Wong
This 12 Challenge book I had heard of before – I think it’s also a film? – but besides from the title presumably giving away the ending I have no idea what it’s going to be like.

Babel by R.F. Kuang
I have a hunch that this is going to be on a lot of people’s TBRs. I got a very pretty copy from FairyLoot and while I’ve yet to read The Poppy War trilogy (I do have the first book) I’m interested to see what I make of Babel. I also want to read it sooner rather than later as it is so hyped/popular and it’d be nice to be a part of those conversations while they’re at their peak rather than being late to the party as I usually am. Plus, though I’ve heard that generally everyone loves Babel, I know little about the plot so hopefully the general excitement won’t cloud my own judgement much.

Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega
I got this book a year ago and I still haven’t read it! I don’t tend to read middle grade at all (probably the last time I read a middle grade book was when I was a child) but I liked the sound of this one especially as it is kind of spooky but I think it’s also about grief.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
I think the sequel is released soon and this is a book I’ve heard a lot of good things about – it’s even my pal Brin’s favourite book of the year. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten properly into a YA fantasy series so maybe this will be the one.

She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
I love films about investigative journalism but I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about it before. She Said is a non-fiction book by the two New York Times investigative reporters who exposed Harvey Weinstein’s history of abuse and sexual misconduct against women. This’ll no doubt be a tough and uncomfortable read at times but I’m interested to see how these reporters put everything together and got people to trust them enough to go on the record.

Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga
October is Black History Month here in the UK so that’s extra motivation to read this. Over the years I’ve learnt more about Britain and its racism and though I think what I learnt in my history classes wasn’t whitewashed, there’s probably a lot I don’t know. Also, so much news or information on racial injustice that I hear about day to day via social media seems to come from America but there’s still a lot of issues here in the UK that I should be more educated on.

The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen
Another book I got via FairyLoot and this one I hadn’t heard before which is always fun. I think it might be a romcom with the undead? Or at least there’s bones on the cover which clashes with the cutesy colour scheme on the cover so that should be interesting.

The Sisters Grimm by Meena van Praag
Pretty sure this has been on a TBR before but now might just be the time I get to it. It’s set where I live and seems to have spooky/autumnal vibes so if perfect for this time of year.

The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden
I have heard nothing but good things about this book and the entire trilogy. I have The Bear and The Nightingale in paperback and the other two on my kindle as I got them super cheap, like for 99p each or something and it’d have been stupid not to get them even though I hadn’t read the first book and didn’t know if I liked the story or not. Hopefully I do and then I have the whole trilogy to read.

What books are on your TBR for the end of the year?