Pandora’s Pick of the Week: “John Dies at the End”


By David Wong

Background:What started as a bunch of faux-autobiographical internet vignettes by the editor of quickly became a cult sensation, culminating in a full book in 2009. According to David Wong (real name Jason Pargin):

“It was a tale that  required 150,000 words to tell and 36 of them were ‘boner.’ I called it John Dies at the End because I realized most people were busy and would want to know the most relevant facts right away.

SPOILER: John doesn’t die at the end.

What it’s about: A mysterious drug called Soy Sauce is introduced to our two less-than-heroic protagonists, Dave and John, who work at a video store and have a really terrible band. When the Sauce begins unlocking their minds to other dimensions and allowing them to slip through time, John and Dave are pulled into a gorey and otherworldly adventure involving people who spontaneously explode, body snatchers, and monsters made of meat (you heard me).

But John and Dave are special. Of the people who have tried the Sauce, they are the only two who not only survived, but continued to be in tune with other dimensions after the effects wore off. As such, they become paranormal experts of a kind, like a weird mashup of the Ghostbusters, the Winchesters from Supernatural, and the guys from Clerks.

All of the evil stuff going down seems to be connected to Korrok, a Lovecraftian god-like mastermind (apparently) out to destroy the world or some such. A whole bunch of hilarious and absurd shenanigans ensue, leading to the realization of the master plan when John and Dave finally travel to other dimensions and meet Korrok for themselves. This meet involves mortal danger and fart jokes.

Why it will keep you up at night: An excellent mix of horror and humor, this one will probably have you laughing more than screaming, but there are plenty of cringe-worthy moments, like the worm-like bugs that start swarming in people’s bodies. The absurd and surprisingly convoluted plot will keep you guessing the whole time, and there are even some poignant moments at the end when a certain dead body is revealed. It’s just as clever and bizarre and hilarious as you would expect from the editor of Cracked, and a highly-recommended read.

I hear the sequel, tentatively called This Book is Full of Spiders, is currently in the works. Also, the book has been made into a movie, debuting at the Sundance Film Festival in late January. From the trailer, I’d say it’s lookin’ pretty baller.


Read John Dies at the End now!

Categories: Recommendations


  1. I liked John Dies at the End. Since it was a few short stories stitched together into a novel, I think you could really tell which parts he was into and which parts he was mailing in.

    The first half with the wig monsters and Shitload was way better than the end half with … Korrok? I think his name was.

    Anyway, it’s always great to see a guy who was fartin’ around on his blog make it all the way into being published.

    • Yeah, it could have done with some serious tightening and editing to bring it all together, but in spite of the unevenness I think he made it work as an entertaining romp. I’m thinking the sequel might be more coherent since it’ll be written first as a book instead of as short stories, and more people are waiting for it to be good.

  2. What a trip! I hadn’t heard of this. The trailer looks interesting. Maybe I’ll check out the film when it comes out, since my TBR pile recently fell over. Lol!
    Take care, Joanna.


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