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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 6 September 2007
As soon as you see the title you pretty much know you're not about to read an average horror tale. John Dies At The End is as funny as it is scary, and vice versa, skipping effortlessly from talking hot dogs and magic healing kittens to disturbing passages about what the narrator thinks Hell might be like, and the idea of never having existed. Straight back to John's special demon-killing weapon- a baseball bat with a Bible taped to it. The story itself seems to unfold as a series of episodes (it was, after all, originally written in instalments) bound together by the author's "present day" interview with a skeptical journalist. Every character is well-written, believable and likeable, but the strength of the story really is the way it's written- the humour and horror often overlap but never feel jarring or uncomfortable together. In that sense, it reminds me less of classic horror authors like King and Koontz, and classic comedy authors like Douglas Adams, than it reminds me of Brit zombie movie Shaun Of The Dead. Both that film and this book manage this balance of gags and real, honest horror, and if you liked Shaun you'll love John and Dave.
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on 11 September 2007
David Wong's first novel is a rare treat: a comedy horror that is both genuinely funny and genuinely horrifying. Written in the first person, the novel relates the adventures of the author and his friend John, whose ordinary small town existence comes to an end when they are exposed to the drug known as "soy sauce". Now they can see the true nature of the world they live in: where demons can alter reality, anyone can be erased from history, and nobody is who, or what, they seem.

The novel was originally written as a series of episodes for the author's web site, and this origin still shows in the printed version. The tone of the story ranges from slapstick comedy to metaphysical horror, which will leave you wondering if you yourself might end up like the unfortunate woodchuck.
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on 6 September 2007
JDatE is a genuinely deft blend of great humour, scabrous vulgarity and actual, proper horror. The story benefits from being a-bristle with the unconventional ideas and enthusiasm inherent in a writer's first "proper" book, whilst being coupled to writing skills honed over a ton of fiercely intelligent and funny web articles on pointlesswasteoftime.

Watch out for Bill Paxton's cameo as a small pile of rocks.

I'm buying it despite having already read it twice online, and I'm legendarily tight-fisted. It gets one thumbs up, my highest rating.
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on 5 September 2007
I love this book; I love it for its grimy protagonists, its nebulous yet unflinchingly retarded bad guys, the awesome concepts David Wong calls into play and its beautifully profound penis jokes.

I would recommend this book to anyone even vaguely interested in horror books or science fiction. It will make you laugh and it will make you think.
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on 25 September 2012
A comedy horror that delivers on both fronts.

Probably one of the coolest books I've read in a long time and an absolute joy to read.

You'll laugh, you'll cringe and you'll have an exceedingly good time.
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on 11 January 2011
Despite the 'pre-conditions" I can't help loving this book! The pre-conditions I was aware of before I bought it were:
1) I don't like graphic horror in movies and novels and this book is full of it; some of the images will probably stay with me for a long time.
2) It also has 'heroes' of the Jackass/Jay & Silent Bob calibre - another big turn-off for me.
3) Finally, it's probably targeted towards 15-25 year olds (I am past fifty).
Three good reasons to ignore this novel, but still I bought it. Why? No idea, but I prefer to call it a lucky hunch. Though seemingly a first novel that started story by story in a blog, the print version is very well written (not to say the electronic version wasn't as good, I just never saw it). The writer avoids the use of the lingo of the above mentioned type of protagonists, the narrative flows nicely, there are no tedious or slow parts and even the newly created frame for the story does not feel artificial but ties nicely into the story. It's very funny, often thrilling and entertaining throughout.
I finished the book within two days, wholeheartedly recommend it and eagerly loo(c)k forward to next Dave & John novel.
PS: I have become very suspicious of soy sauce.
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on 16 July 2015
It's probably my own fault but I can't help but feel a little underwhelmed with John Dies at the End. In certain circles at least, it's regarded as the perfect marriage of horror and comedy and I was mostly left a little disappointed with the humour. That said, the horror is quite effective in many cases and Wong injects a good deal of tension into several scenes. It's best to temper your expectations with this one.

I'll start with the negatives. I found the humour more consistently present than ever actually capable of producing a laugh. I appreciate Wong's commitment lack of embarrassment with juvenile humour, as it should be, but his particular brand just never really hit home for me. Particularly the titular John, who is clearly meant to be a zany dude who's a laugh a minute to be around, I found no more interesting or funny than any of the rest of the cast.

Another slight disappointment for me (which comes with a mild spoiler warning for anyone who wants to start reading with as little known about the plot as possible) was how the start of the book suggested the main characters might actually just be insane and that the paranormal goings on are all imagined. However, that idea is quickly brushed aside in favour of a plot with a much larger scale. It's not without its twists and turns but the implied ambiguity was intriguing.

The characters are also somewhat weak. Aside from the protagonist, characters seem to exist solely to serve a purpose and have very basic objectives of their own. Other characters are introduced and disappear again almost without any input to the story at all. While that fits somewhat with the somewhat dream-like quality much of the book has, it feels very much inorganic.

The plot was interesting, easily enough to hold my attention to the finish, though I think it was a little too explicit towards the end, explaining things that would have been more terrifying if they remained a mystery. It is also a bit meandery (is that even a word?), and you can almost tell that it was written and released in pieces. I strongly suspect Wong mostly made it up as he went along, or something close to it. It's the mysteries, though, that are the driving force behind the story that will push you to the last page, even if a few too many of them are demystified, in my opinion.

The best part of this book, as far as I'm concerned, is the horror. Wong crafts tension quite well in several places but it's more the creative, terrifying ideas that really sell it. Sure, some of Wong's influences are obvious but all the best horror plays on anxieties hard coded into the human psyche that are thousands of years old. Some almost familiar moments are to be expected.

Overall, I don't feel I wasted my time reading this book but at the same time I would hesitate to recommend it. For horror genre fans, it's definitely worth a look at least. For everyone else, there are likely more enjoyable reads out there for you to discover.
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on 22 April 2016
After reading this book I can't believe another reviewer saw an 8 year old girl reading it without wondering what she was when she wasn't pretending to be an 8 year old girl...

I CAN believe there are people who would hate this book. In fact, I'm probably married to one of them. That doesn't matter, just try not to let them read it. It's better if most people don't know the truth anyway. Hell is all around us but we just can't see it. Lucky us. Stay off the sauce (but you don't take the sauce...the sauce takes you...)

I won't synopsize, others already have. The ideas are wild, dazzlingly crazy, bold and confident. It's "horrible" and undeniably "horror", but not horrifying (unless you're offended by frequent references to genitalia, usually in the form of improbable boasting or implausible threats). I probably wouldn't encourage a (human) 8yo to read it but anyone over about 13 could do worse than have a look.
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on 11 May 2016
Pretty good. Interesting idea, and some genuinely scary moments - not the gory bits, but the moments when the protagonist and thus the reader think they might be going mad... "Amy wan't there, Amy had never been there" gave me a shiver!

Some weird formatting, with strange gaps in the mi ddle of wo rds. Was this a purposeful technique to suggest the fracturing of reality/sanity? Am I reading too much into it? Probably!

Not sorry I downloaded this. A bit different.
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on 13 April 2013
It took me over a year to read the book and I had to push myself to do it, because I don't want to leave half-read books.

I really don't see the point of the story. I guess there is an audience out there for gory details, and I might enjoy it some times, but I think it has to have a context, what it the meaning if you are just piling up guts and bugs without a strong story?

It seems like the last 1/4 of the book is written in a different style, less guts more story, but still I didn't feel interested in the characters.

Sometimes the humor was good, but mostly it seemed forced.

I see it as an experience, but I wouldn't read it again or recommend it.

As I said, I guess there is an audience for this kind of books, I just didn't like it.
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