Never one to pass up an opportunity for a good read from a fellow reader and writer, at 3am it was a no brainer to start reading the book ‘John dies at the end’. Seldom do I start reading a book without having read at least the blurb however, in this case I knew nothing of the book’s origins let alone the genre – which is far from the usual I’m used to, I assure you. The clue should have been who the book was recommended for – with his desirably warped sense of reality, I have no doubt that this individual will know exactly where this book is going from page 1 – said with much love of course.
When I began reading the book, I gauged that I was dealing with some dark comedy here – knowing that this book has been made into a movie, I likened the style to that of Idle Hands with its dark plot relayed in a whimsical way. The first few pages in, I started to wonder if this wasn’t the kind of book that required some narcotic assistance for enjoyment. To put it bluntly, I quickly ascertained that I probably would in fact need acid for the continuation of the story. Truth be told the story telling is rather descriptive, I generally don’t have a problem picturing the scene and yet David Wong’s (not his real name) infinite adjectives allow for accurate imagery, however disturbing. By chapter 3, I was no longer needing acid, I had determined that in fact acid had already been pumped into my bloodstream and perhaps the next step would be rehab, all in only a hundred pages of black comedy and twisted plot.
So what’s the book about? Hell, demons, darkness? Despite the largely referenced religious injection into humanity and playing out of good versus evil, to me it wasn’t about spine chilling creatures, drug use or a Jamaican with a death wish. When you get passed the ‘Soy Sauce’ and the never ending make shift demonic creatures that will either try to kill you, inject you, possess you, drug you or just curl up and sleep on you, it was about the human psyche. For me, the book is one big mind f#@k and perhaps if it isn’t, a brief visit to a padded room will serve you well. One things for sure, I’ll never look at meat or turkey the same way. Suddenly, we are allowed a glimpse of what the world really is… and it’s pretty messed up.
Being an Anne Rice fan, it was difficult not to note that the story is told in a very ‘Interview with a vampire’ kind of manner. David Wong as Louis, Arnie as Daniel and Denny’s the venue where the character plays his story out. That said, you quickly forget the ‘story telling’ and become submerged in the events described by David, clearly imagining every darkness he brings to the table. You can imagine my surprise when the author references Anne Rice midway, another fan I’m sure. After my first few chapters I decided I would only then read up on the nature of the story, it was here that I deduced the story was written as a ‘horror’ novel – Something I would never have read if I had investigated beforehand, I am a bit of a baby when it comes to horror. Not only do I not do horror, I fair poorly with blood and guts and anything gory. As mentioned, it’s a rather descriptive book so there is no shortage of homosapien horrors and yet I read on, completely enamored with this unbelievable sequence of events that kept me glued to the ‘page’… In fact, I’ll never look at Ronald McDonald the same way and eating a sausage will take some courage.
Though it appears that David Wong is the protagonist from the start, John is truly an attention seeking character that quickly draws you in with his witty retorts and sarcastic undertones – he was calling the shots from day 1, the puppet master in control of the situation (well, almost) at all times and the class clown. Perhaps that’s why he is my favorite character, I can identify with his warped sense of humor, though we definitely do not share his non existent fear for the unknown. David’s version of events portrays John as somewhat of an annoyance to him, yet someone he would suffer without… It is through David’s vivid imagery that John comes across as cocksure, in control and grounded – hard to believe I’d say that about someone who sees dead things.
David on the other hand comes across as a character who’s been somewhat of a nobody, he is a follower, submissive and in a bit of denial. Don’t get me wrong, his character is not weak, merely introverted with a need to lash out every so often. I say ‘lash out’ loosely as perhaps shotgun fire and murder could be described as ‘losing his sh1t’ instead. What I do love about David is his frequent referral to music, the song playing in the background, giving the book it’s own soundtrack as you read on while singing back the tune subconsciously… Obviously, the demon annoying music is somewhat of a mandatory requirement but I get to sing along to Guns n Roses, even if the underworld hate it. His narration of the whole story is rather comedic without being an Adam Sandler movie, he grabs and holds your attention and many early mornings I’ve not been able to put the book down, no matter how many times the dog dies.
It is important to note that role reversal is fairly common throughout the book and nothing and nobody is as it seems, everything I’ve just told you about John and David could be wrong, misinterpreted or just made up. ‘John dies at the end’ is a book that leaves you just as bewildered at the end of the book as it did after the first chapter. For every answer, another question. Even though it is penned as a horror novel, I got through the book in a matter of days fairly easily, with the lights on of course, so don’t let its genre deter you. Just when you think the book is ending, it doesn’t – just when you think another death is in sight, it’s not and just when you think you’ve figured out the how and why, you’re wrong. All in all, a fascinating read outside of the realm of reality that doesn’t involve sparkling vampires or moon turning wolves.
Just remember, do NOT judge the book by it’s cover.
Movie time ;)