Now, let's rewind to the events preceding my decision to read this book. Honestly, I would never have picked it up on my own because I probably wouldn't know of its existence. An eccentric student I taught two years ago brought the book to me at the end of this school year. He said, "I have a gift for you." Knowing his idiosyncrasies--which include eating of those scorpion lollipops, sticking toothpicks in his shorts (Hellraiser fashion), and pawning bacon-flavored jelly beans on unsuspecting victims--I chuckled and said, "Oh, no, should I be afraid?" He said, "No, I brought you my favorite book, and I want you to have it and read it." Let me tell you something, people of the Internet, if a student brings you his or her favorite book to read, YOU READ IT. Anything that keeps a kid's love of reading alive YOU DO IT. So, I decided I would read it first this summer.
Mom asked me what genre this book belongs in, and that's a tough call, honestly. If I had to give you the best genre description, I would say it's horror meets satire. (Luckily, the summary on Amazon concurs with my findings.) I guess you could throw a little sci-fi in there. If Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back mated with Men in Black, their love child would be John Dies at the End.
If you want to know whether or not I recommend it, you might want to consider my sense of humor first. Though one would not think so based on reading this blog, I have a bit of a sailor mouth. Most people in real life, however, know this bit of information. What will come as no surprise to anyone (most likely) is that I have a crass, often uncouth sense of humor. (One of my previous students used to walk by my classroom and, at random, poke his head into my classroom to exclaim, "POOP!" It made me laugh every time, which was his goal.) Keeping these traits in mind, proceed with my review.
The book, narrated from the first-person perspective of David Wong, is about how an alternate/parallel universe (hell or something like it) infiltrates and tries to dominate our world. David and his best friend, John, both of whom are slackers from the Midwest, wind up trying to protect our world from the creatures beyond when an after party goes awry. There's some doing of "drugs," a plethora of creative cussing (David's personality necessitates it, really), humor, exploding creatures/humans, secret portals (my favorite dubbed "Shit Narnia"), resurrection, madness, penis obsessions (John never shuts up about his, but I find it hyserical), and suspense. One of my favorite parts is when Dave and John walk up to a house with a placard that says "The Morrison's--Established Since _____" (can't remember the date), and Dave says how they spent several minutes fighting about whether or not the apostrophe should be there. Melted my English teacher heart. Honestly, I can tell an editor/strong writer authored this book. It's very well-written. Clearly, Pargin is not just a dude with a good book idea that he decides to write without a clue about what makes for good writing. I laughed and grimaced frequently. Any book that forces me to feel more than one emotion makes itself worth the time spent reading it.
I plan to read the sequel, This Book is Full of Spiders, and I'm excited to chat with that student about this book. Next up, seeing if the book-turned-movie is on Netflix. I'm so curious how they could turn that into a movie, so I have to watch just for that reason. (It really is a movie.)
Buy John Dies at the End here.
Next up on the list: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, which comes highly recommended by multiple teacher friends.