John dies at the end (David Wong)

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#1
So, I just finished John dies at the end by David Wong. My expectations were high for this one, seeing as that I am a big fan of Cracked.com, the famous humour website of which David is an editor. His articles have always really appealed to me. In fact, in my opinion he has some of the best written, informative and funny articles on the entire site. Because of this, I didn't have to think twice to purchase this book when some of my fellow BFB forum members recommended this novel.

Sadly though, the book couldn't live up to my expectations. In fact, in my opinion it is a steaming pile of cow dung. It's by far the worst book I've read this year. The story is virtually non-existant. Where after the first chapters I still gave it some leeway by placing it under the 'magical realism' category, it quickly became apparent that the story is only there to set up the many jokes in this book. If these would have been funny this would be fine, but they're not. Whereas dick and poop jokes work well in the articles on Cracked.com, they quickly lose their appeal in this book. The "humorous" aphorisms don't make a lot of sense (I don't mean that in a good way). Non sequiturs and randomness for the sake of being random starts to bore quite quickly. Furthermore, the characters became obnoxious after only a couple of chapters worth of reading. The character of John is meant as a goofy oddball, but he comes across as forced. And don't even get me started on the puns... Terrible.

Maybe I am not the target audience anymore. Perhaps my 18 year old self would have liked this book better. I doubt this though. I still love the articles on Cracked, juvenile jokes and all, but it just didn't fly in this book.

Where you would expect awesomeness like the movie Super Bad, you instead get Meet the Spartans. Where you wanted Shaun of the Dead you get Disaster Movie. Where you hoped for the Hangover you get the Hangover 2 (or God forbid 3). I think you catch my drift.

The irony is that Wong sometimes shows his analytical brilliance and skills as a writer. Some of his observations are spot on. However, these nuggets of awesome are obscured by the general shittiness of the rest of the content. The fact that my favourite Cracked editor sometimes shines through sours my disposition after reading this all the the more.

This book is trying too hard to explain funny and it therefore fails miserably. In comparison with authors like Adams or Pratchett (who actually do write funny books) Wong falls far short in my opinion.

Still, the dude made a lot of money by selling his book and the rights to the movie. And for all indie authors; the way he got his book published is very inspirational. You might want to check out his website on how he pulled it off. Perhaps the structure and plot (or the lack thereof) in this book are a result of how the book was conceived (go read up on that on Wong's website. It's quite interesting really). This is not an excuse though in my book; I paid good money for this paperback.

Anyway, I hate writing negative reviews, but for me there are not many redeeming qualities in this novel. I therefore can't sugarcoat it and have to give this book a rating of 4/10 (**2 GoodReads Stars).
 

Tanniel

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#2
I'm also a reader of Cracked like you (and where I first came across this book). I never got around to reading it, but I saw the film adaptation was on Netflix and gave it a try. I watched maybe 10-15 minutes before I stopped. It wasn't outright bad, just didn't see any appeal in it. I think you're on to something about how the parameters for a Cracked article doesn't necessarily work for writing a novel (though to be fair, I never gave the book a chance, so going purely by the film adaptation). But I'll give his website a read after what you mentioned, that does sound intriguing.
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#3
The reviews on Goodreads really make this book sound stupid, even the positive reviews. I hear some comparison's to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which really is brilliantly humorous, but that doesn't have a bunch of dick, poop, and fart jokes like this book, which isn't exactly what I would consider the acme of brilliance.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#4
The reviews on Goodreads really make this book sound stupid, even the positive reviews. I hear some comparison's to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which really is brilliantly humorous, but that doesn't have a bunch of dick, poop, and fart jokes like this book, which isn't exactly what I would consider the acme of brilliance.
Believe me, only a mentally challenged person would even dare compare this to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (which is one of the funniest books I've ever read).

I cannot recommend this book to anyone, but knowing your reading I can safely say that you would probably rate this in the top 5 of worst books ever.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#5
Hitchhiker's guide to galaxy gave me a headache well more like a migrane. I'll give it props for being the only fiction book that did that.
It's also stupid to make that comparison because the humour in these two is nothing alike.
I am also not sure I'm the target audience, being 33 and female, but I freaking loved John and his dick jokes. That character really is force majeure that moves the story, because Dave is actually a sane albeit slightly sociopathic and doesn't actually gives a shit and would probably blow (yes pun intended) everything and shut himself in his apartment.

Anyhow, sorry you didn't enjoy the book, cos thats never a good experience and it feels like you wasted time, but I fuckin loved it.
The book is not out to be something it isnt, it's very down to earth among all that fantastical shit.
It was great to read about these two small town guys, who are basically in their 20s and dont have shit going for them until they save the world, all the while making dick jokes. Whats more real than that? ;)
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#6
Also moonspawn I dont think Wong was aiming for brilliance. Not every book has to be a literary masterpiece.
But I know you have different approach to your reading, limited time and all that, and its cool man, it's cool.
But I would think you are a minority thinking like that, both from a reader and writer standpoint. Because most people read fiction for entertainment, and most writers write well..... different reasons really. Lets just say creating masterpieces isnt on the top of the list.
 

Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
#7
It was great to read about these two small town guys, who are basically in their 20s and dont have shit going for them until they save the world, all the while making dick jokes. Whats more real than that?
Pretty much sums up my 20s to a T.

Hitchhiker's guide to galaxy gave me a headache well more like a migrane. I'll give it props for being the only fiction book that did that.
And I thought I was the only person out there that didn't care for Hitchhikers in any of its many myriad of mediums. In fact, I thought I'd get kicked off the forum for saying that. Ah, it's so freeing!
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#8
I thougass the only person out there that didn't care for Hitchhikers in any of its many myriad of mediums.In fact, I thought I'd get kicked off the forum for saying that. Ah, it's so freeing!
The minute I'm unable to speak my unpopular opinion about a book on this forum, I'm out.
Although I appreciate a good dick joke I'm not interested being in a circlejerk :angelic:


...
Ok I'll stop now :D
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#9
Thanks for the feedback Alucard. To each his/her own of course.

And I like dick jokes as much as the other man (or woman in your case), but they just didn't work for me in this format. Nor did the poop jokes or the puns.

I feel that the book would have been better of in its original form: as seperate chapters/ short stories, loosely connected, that were added to David's website on a periodical basis. In this way it would have been like David's Cracked articles: chock full of (often immature) jokes without getting tiresome.

Anyway, I don't begrudge anyone anything for recommending me this book. Hell, I thought I would really like it when I read the blurb and the reviews. Ah well, you can't like em all I suppose.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#10
I think the difference between us is I had no preconceived notions about Wong or his writing prior to reading his book, while you keep mentioning his articles.
I had no idea who he is or what he does. I just read his book like I would from any unknown author and enjoyed it for what it is.
 

Theophania

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#11
And I thought I was the only person out there that didn't care for Hitchhikers in any of its many myriad of mediums
You can add me to the list. Tried it years ago, didn't like it. Too much silliness gets dull after a while. Same with Red Dwarf. So I'll be avoiding John Dies at the End even more than I was before.

Mind you, I like a good dick joke as much as anyone. Though I have to say, that part of the male anatomy is pretty amusing all on its own. Actually, especially on its own - can you imagine? :)
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#12

Theophania

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#13
No, please do elaborate
Sort of like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priapulida (Although I have seen better pictures elsewhere.)

But you can imagine them detaching in the night and going off to do their own thing. This is historical: during the medieval period, it used to happen all the time. We know this because people produced badges representing what dicks (etc) got up to once they'd ditched the deadweight and could really party - see here for reproductions: http://www.fetteredcockpewters.com/page_naughty_bits.htm

Even though it's historical, and therefore educational, probably best not looked at while your manager is leaning over your shoulder... :)
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#14
Sort of like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priapulida (Although I have seen better pictures elsewhere.)

But you can imagine them detaching in the night and going off to do their own thing. This is historical: during the medieval period, it used to happen all the time. We know this because people produced badges representing what dicks (etc) got up to once they'd ditched the deadweight and could really party - see here for reproductions: http://www.fetteredcockpewters.com/page_naughty_bits.htm

Even though it's historical, and therefore educational, probably best not looked at while your manager is leaning over your shoulder... :)
Do you have all these penis related websites bookmarked?
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#16
Hitchhiker's guide to galaxy gave me a headache well more like a migrane. I'll give it props for being the only fiction book that did that.
It's also stupid to make that comparison because the humour in these two is nothing alike.
How does such an easy, breezy read like that give you a migraine? It's usually books of merit and serious challenge that gives me a headache. For example last summer I read To the Lighthouse and there was a period where I actually started to hallucinate I was concentrating so hard.

Also moonspawn I dont think Wong was aiming for brilliance. Not every book has to be a literary masterpiece.
But I know you have different approach to your reading, limited time and all that, and its cool man, it's cool.
But I would think you are a minority thinking like that, both from a reader and writer standpoint. Because most people read fiction for entertainment, and most writers write well..... different reasons really. Lets just say creating masterpieces isnt on the top of the list.
I feel complimented when you say I'm in a minority when it comes to my reading preferences. But at the same time it does get tiring after a little while and it also means that I tend towards shorter reads and that I might end up not reading as many books as I might like. To sum up my reading I'd say I seek out books I think might influence my writing.

And I have nothing against entertainment btw. What I am against is entertainment for the wrong reasons. Also in my criticisms I tend to pay more attention to what a book shouldn't be rather than what it should be.