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John Dies at the End
David Wong
Thomas Dunne Books, 480 pages

John Dies at the End
David Wong
David Wong is the pseudonym of Jason Pargin, online humorist, National Lampoon contributor, and editor-in-chief of

David Wong Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sandra Scholes

For those who like to delve into the realms of the unreal and offbeat, this is a really good one. What other cover has a severed hand on it wearing green nail varnish? This is as good an indication as any that what's inside is a fun read -- not just the blurb on the back. It is an unusual novel that has several influences from some of the most notable horror fiction writers around, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King and dare I say, Douglas Adams, but as far as horror goes, it ends up going more along the lines of comedy as David Wong is the pseudonym of Jason Pargin, the editor of

In John Dies at the End it is interesting that David Wong uses his own name for the main character in this novel. His best friend is John, and according to the title of the novel -- dies at the end, but that is far from all. His friend and he are involved in a series of related and unrelated events that seem like they should be in an indie movie if the scriptwriter happened to be Weird Al Yankovic. John and David witness the most comical occurrences known to man, not knowing who to blame, only that they keep on happening. Strange spider episodes, weird phone calls from a girl friend and the trouble they are to have in the future. They have no answers to what is going on, but there is something that could help them if they take it -- soy sauce -- the drug of the future:

"In those first hours after you take it, your brain is tuned in like nothing you can imagine. Eyes like the Hubble Telescope, sensing light that's not even in the spectrum. You might be able to read minds, make time stop, cook pasta that's exactly right every time. And you can see the shadowy things that share this world, the ones who are always present and always hidden. It'd be like if a doctor could walk around with miscroscopes strapped to his eyes all of the time, so he could just look and see the sickness crawling around inside us."
Soy sauce opens a portal to another dimension so the user can experience life differently, and also see into the future. But this future they see isn't enlightening, wonderful, or in any way bright as it's a lot like Hell, apparently, and if the two of them have come to save the world, then they have to be very quick about it. There are others at work who want to prevent them from doing this -- the Korrok and the invaders of the world as we know it.

In Book II: Korrok, John and David find a part from Dr Marconi's book on the alien fiends who seek to terrorise and enslave man, Page 192 of Science and the Beyond by Albert Marconi makes out that an Egyptian god called Kuk was a frog-like deity who was steeped in darkness and chaos:

"Haleine, however, believed he had stumbled upon a cult that worshipped his rash and destructive son, Kor'rok. This god was represented symbolically by a man punctured by two spears, one in the mouth and one in his groin, the twin centres of desire for mankind. In the cult's mythology, Kor'rok was a reckless and cruel slave master, who used men's bodily desires to lure them to their destruction for his own amusement."
It is interesting to note that David Wong uses some of the ideas for his god from Egyptian mythology, one in particular that surrounds their chaos god, Seth, only in his own version he is made to be that much funnier by his strange, if unusual antics. David's grasp and use of myth alone prove to be just as comical in the text from Dr Marconi's book, as it goes into great detail on two pages as to why the god was this way, and what others did to try and suppress its appetite for destruction. Wong's character mentions the reference to Korrok's symbol being the same one which also appears mysteriously on Molly's foot:
"Another day of travel took me back to the village. I arrived in such a state of excitement that the priest had me restrained by several strong men and forced me to drink a potion to "cool the embers in my head." After some time I got alone with the priest and asked him about Koddock and the symbol. The symbol, he told me, was a representation of the god Koddock himself. Koddock was a young god, he told me, hot-headed and prone to fits of rage if not pleased. The vertical line was his body. The top horizontal line was a stream of vomit; the second horizontal line was a stream of urine. For, you see, the tribe believed Koddock liked to drink to excess, and when he was intoxicated he interfered with the affairs of man and caused great destruction."
One of the funniest moments in the book is in Chapter 13: The Chat Transcript where more is found on the aliens who serve Korrok as Amy watches what happens during the chat itself as she sees the ensuing madness unravel around her. A Korrok minion sneaks onto the chat and tries to convert a human, with tragic consequences. Readers will be shocked at the many names Korrok goes by in this novel, though Korrok the Famished will make the reader think the god is eternally hungry.

Copyright © 2011 Sandra Scholes

Sandra Scholes enjoys many pastimes, painting, drawing, writing short stories and when she's busy as hell she writes for Active Anime, Quailbell magazine, The Chronicle and Love Romance Passion to name a few.

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