book-reviews

John Dies at the End

by David Wong

Rating: ★★★★

John Dies at the End is a riotous blend of otherworldly horror and crackpot humour. The story details, in a roundabout manner, the paranormal investigations of a pair of high-school friends who got themselves exposed to out-of-this world drugs. Dealing with daemonic powers with all the cruelty and sense of humour of a 14-year-old, their world becomes ever stranger as the book progresses, but their crude jokes and bloody-minded refusal to take anything seriously form a thin shield which keeps the terror at bay.

Wong's style is addictive and amusing, blending well-designed mystery and horror with japery which harks back to idle summers spent with high-school friends, cracking terrible jokes and performing amusing feats. This is not limited to the main characters. Even the daemonic forces use 'street' talk, reference video game tropes and hurl childish insults. Such a setup does sound like it might be tiring, but the balance is struck just right.

A strong counter to horror stories in which the protagonist is either emotionally fragile or a terrified skeptic, John Dies at the End is a good read for anyone capable of enjoying some silliness.