The John Dies at the End series is one of the few books that actually makes me laugh out loud. Not in the new age LOL way, but actual sound escapes my throat and those vibrations form what is commonly recognized as laughter. JDatE’s series is also the only books to make laugh my ass off and also terrify me. David Wong (Pen name for Jason Pargin) is a clever writer who has created a world of comedy, horror and self-deprecation wrapped up in inter-dimensional terror. That’s a whole lot of adjectives, but they are accurate and Wong is back to further the adventures of John and David and he brings a whole new batch of dick jokes and body horror!
David Wong (yes, the book is told through first person. The pen name is more than just a way to hide his identity. He’s also the protagonist for the entire series) his best friend John Cheese and his girlfriend Amy are still living in the town of [Undisclosed] (the name is kept hidden to help Wong’s privacy) and as per usual the [Undisclosed] is a hot bed of cosmic horror. This particular time the town is being stalked by a shape shifting pedophile who is kidnapping children while in the form of Wong. To make matters worse, a shady government-esque company has placed tabs on our heroes and are preventing them from taking down these cosmic perverts and saving the town if not the world!
The beauty of What the Hell is Wong has not lost his ability to be hilarious while also creeping the ever-living hell out of me. So many times during while reading this book, I was laughing so hard it annoyed my wife and child. I understand their frustration with these uncontrollable fits of laughter that seeming came out of no where. This a testament to, not only how funny of a writer Wong can be, but also to his ability to shape characters that are 100% real. While I know praising a book filled with cosmic monsters that can shape shift about having realistic characters seems a bit “off”. Just know that it’s these grounded characters and their reactions to all squirrel shit nuttiness that make it so damn funny. Or terrifying. And that’s a line Wong doesn’t just walk, but runs full speed on.
Like most of the people who visit this site (I imagine) I love to root for the underdog and there is no better underdogs than David Wong (the character not the writer. I’m sure Jason Pargin is a “go getter” in real life!) and John Cheese. These lovable losers (one so consumed by self loathing and low self-esteem he can’t even accept payment for the work he does. The other is so self delusional [and or stoned] that the chapters that are told from his perspective come with a disclaimer) may be exactly like people you know, if not yourself. Being able to root for these characters and laugh while they literally go through hell and back is one of the greatest complaints I can give.
What the Hell Did I Just Read? Is available everywhere books are sold now!