I only recently learned about the book John Dies At The End by David Wong, ironically enough from a movie blog, as the adaptation was discussed finally finding distribution after a number of problems. Not even an hour later a Facebook friend mentioned the book in a status update. Said friend is a professional musician/visual artist and has an uncanny knack for digging up the weird sh!t, so I popped open the Kindle Fire, hit the buy button, and had all my free time sucked away for the next few days.
Our main protagonist is David Wong. Yes. Same as the author, and fittingly enough is told in first person flashback. Dave and his best buddy John, live in a southern Midwest town near the Kentucky border that they never refer to by name, working crappy jobs, playing video games, and indenting the seat cushions at the local Denny's. Until one night when John's half-assed band plays a party that gets slightly outta hand, when Dave is questioned by a dread locked guy who knows way more about Dave than he should. And it's not just Dave, he seems to have all the secrets on everyone at the party. Well, John and some more of the party people head over to the mystic Rastafarian dude's place and Dave, rightly getting a bad vibe, doesn't.
That's when he gets called by a freaked out John the next morning (several times actually, and receiving them not exactly in the order dialed), about some beast in his apartment, and that they need to get to Las Vegas as soon as possible. And this, dear reader is just the tip of the weirdberg. At the party, Rasta boy came clean about how he came by his knowledge. Seems he came by an illicit substance that they nicknamed Soy Sauce, that alters your perceptions, and shared it with his guests. However, it's not a hallucinogen. The user gets a window into things mankind was not meant to see, and the problem with windows is that while they let you get a good look out, they also provide ways for nasty things to get in.
This is a book of twisted ideas that throws a lot of horror conventions on it's head. For one thing it's pretty damn hilarious at times, which makes the horror more horrifying when facing our loveable losers. Try imagining Jay and Silent Bob wandering into a Clive Barker story, or H.P. Lovecraft's take on Bill and Ted's excellent adventure and you can kinda get close to the feeling this novel evokes.
There's a lot of things left unexplained (the bratwurst, and Molly the car driving, immortal canine for starters), which makes sense if you consider the characters. Not elite paranormal investigators, or centuries old children of the night, just a couple of foul mouthed f*ckwits living in nowhere America, trying to make sense of what strangeness has set up camp in their lives. I loved this book, was gobsmacked at the twists in the story, and the black humor spread throughout kept me laughing out loud and wanting more. On October 2nd, I'll get my wish, when Wong's next book comes out: This Book Is Full of Spiders (Seriously Dude, Don't Touch It).
Jason's Rating: 4 trans-dimensional jellyfish outta 5.