NYT bestselling author Wong takes readers to a whole new level with his latest dark comic sci-fi thriller, set in the world of John Dies at the End and This Book is Full of Spiders
Dave, John and Amy recount what seems like a fairly straightforward tale of a shape-shifting creature from another dimension that is stealing children and brainwashing their parents, but it eventually becomes clear that someone is lying, and that someone is the narrators.
The novel you're reading is a cover-up, and the "true" story reveals itself in the cracks of their hilariously convoluted, and sometimes contradictory, narrative.
David Wong is the pseudonym of Jason Pargin. He is the former Executive Editor of Cracked.com, author of the bestselling John Dies at the End series and the award-winning Zoey Ashe novels. Jason has a new Goodreads profile under his real name, you can follow it here:
I always go ga-ga over these books, and for a really great reason. They're FUN AS HELL.
It bends all genres, has some of the absolutely most delicious wry comments and commentary on our modern f***ed-up life, and is consistently over-the-top when it comes to action, monster mashing, and total reality crushing.
Did I mention that this is to UF as Evil Dead is to Horror? It's not a bad comparison. But then, it's sure as hell not complete, either, because this stuff is in it's own league.
Think slacker/slasher fic that does the funniest Supernatural episodes but adds a bit of crack to it to make it even more addictive, then throw in a major course of Cthulhu, sexual innuendo, and Cracked Magazine, and then you're getting pretty close.
It's the same for all three of these books, and I'm proud to say that this third one is still very strong, indeed. No spoilers, but as it says in the series, John Dies at the End.
For those of you who don't know the books, he really does die, but it doesn't always stick thanks to the Soy Sauce. The time travel and alternate dimension hopping and a barrel of snakes that is potential girlfriends just makes things a bit complicated. You know, normal stuff.
All in a day's *unpaid* work.
Of course, that's not to say everyone has supernatural girlfriends, and Dave's Amy is a real trooper and a badass whom I really love. :)
Honestly, this is some of the most righteous laugh-out-loud OTT technocolor raunchy cool books out there. :) It's a self-conscious B-Movie that transcends into ultimate badassery. :) I am STILL totally recommending this series. :) :)
This is by far one of the wackiest books I've ever read, and I absolutely loved it. I've been in one hell of a reading slump lately. I've read some excellent nonfiction, but the fiction has been bad to pretty good. This knocked my socks off. It's not anything I would normally read, and the humor is everything I hate....The monster is named the Millibutt....It's babies are fuckroaches. Dildos and silicone butts are made into weapons of m"ass" destruction. Oh and they live over a sex toy store. Sounds ridiculous, but I laughed, giggled and guffawed my way through! Also, it somehow managed to scare me and cause a few nightmares. No Batmantis's unfortunately, as that might have made the nightmare a bit more fun. If you're looking for a good time, "ahem." I mean if you're looking for a Lovecraftian type horror, with comedic touches, then here you go. Thanks much to the St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for this most excellent story.
David Wong manages to pull you into his "world" for the third time - it is a bumpy ride, but - Damn! - isn't it fun?!
The three main characters are David, John and Amy, who still live in Undisclosed. Their lives has not changed much: David lost his job at the video store when they close and has been unemployed ever since, so they live on Amy's income on top of a dildo store. John is...well, still just John, which is not really a compliment, but what can you do, right?
The worst possible thing happens - ahem, meaning the worst possible thing in OUR world - when a child is abducted. David and John takes the case, and the police of Undisclosed gives them the middle finger. I don't mean figuratively - as they drive away, the cop literally gives him the finger.
But all is not as it seems. Unfortunately, Amy threw the last of the Soy Sauce in the river, so they are left on their own to figure it out. And then another kid disappears, and the cops starts looking closer at Dave - is he a suspect? Of course he bloody well is, don't you know ANYTHING about these kinds of books? And they are chased by NON-agents: Black cloaked entities who MUST have a hidden agenda. And then there is the BATMANTIS??? - which doesn't have anything to do with Batman, in case you are wondering.
After the Soy Sauce traveled to the Orient and back - David and John gets a chance to take some to find out what is really happening this time. When they do, will they think that ignorance was bliss, because things are actually worse than they thought.
The strangest thing is not the fight with the dildo and Oreo cookies. It is not the reason why there is a place called Taco Bill. It is not the question of whether a plane could take off when it was sitting on a giant treadmill. Not even the explanation by the eight year old boy about why the penis is mushroom shaped at the tip.
No, the strangest thing about this story is the moments of philosophical wisdom that lies scattered throughout this story. Whatever your opinion about the humor in this book -David Wong is not dumb, and nor are the characters in this story.
Overall - I enjoyed this one a lot, laughing often and thinking about deeper things than expected. This entire story takes place in the rain - okay, except for the final chapters - so it might remind you of something like the movie GODZILLA with Matthew Broderick. However, a closer comparison I want to make is to the original BLADE RUNNER - don't misunderstand, the stories are vastly different - but like the movie, there are more genres at play than you might expect. There's a little bit of horror, sci-fi, drama, comedy, philosophy, fantasy and even, just in the background on the horizon, a love story.
I honestly don't know who to recommend it to - you'll just have to decide for yourself.
“You want to hear a story? Well, buckle the fuck up.”
You’re probably wondering how someone who incessantly and annoyingly occasionally mentions how she doesn’t read past the first book in a series ended up reading a #3. Well, the answer is simple . . . .
But in this case I want free books. Here’s the part where I publicly out myself and admit that I have had a hard copy of What The Hell Did I Just Read in ARC format for EIGHT MONTHS. This is why NetGalley denies me so frequently – they are well aware of how much suck I bring to the table. Look at this . . . .
Even Django Unchained can’t hide his judgey face while witnessing me read volume after volume while WTHDIJR remained untouched on the pile of shame.
Now that I have finally read this, what do I have to say? Much like the many pornographies I read, the term “series” can be applied pretty loosely here. I don’t necessarily think readers would feel out of the loop if they jumped in on #3 and I am living proof that you don’t have to read #2 in order to have a good time with it. The backstory of David, John and Amy is briefly summed up in snippets where applicable throughout story in order to catch everyone up to speed. Other than that? In the immortal words of Jackie Gleason . . . .
This time around the crew is assisting with a missing child case . . . .
“Let me give you a tip: if you’re ever the victim of a terrible crime – like, say, your kid goes missing – and you see the cops consulting with a couple of white trash-looking dipshits in their late twenties, it’s time to worry. It’s not because John and I are incompetent at what we do – and I assure you, we are – but because you need to start asking yourself a very hard question. Not “Will I get my child back?” but “Do I want to get my child back?”
From there it’s another long strange trip filled with secret government agencies and alternate universes and fuckroaches and “the biggest titties I’ve ever seen on an Asian girl” and vigilante ex-military members and weapons of choice like a t-shirt gun that shoots the Shroud of Turin and an iPod shuffle loaded with 80s power ballads. And when all else fails? Put a little Soy Sauce on it . . .
In layman’s terms this book is sorta what would happen if this . . . .
(Do y’all watch Ghosted? I’m not a real avid T.V. watcher, but this one has been pretty entertaining.)
And this . . . .
Had a baby. I get asked a lot by co-workers if there’s a genre that I don’t really care for and I am always quick to say Science Fiction. I think I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that . . . .
Because this was straight up Sci Fi and I absolutely loved it.
Endless thanks to St. Martin’s Press for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.
A young girl goes missing in Undisclosed. since strange elements are suspected Dave and John are called into the case. of course Amy, Dave's girlfriend ia soon entangled in the plot. speaking of the plot if you thought once Maggie was returned to her parents it was case closed, you may not have read any Wong before. it is once the girl is returned that the story gets stranger and stranger in magnificent David Wong fashion.
This third title in the JDATE series is on my opinion the best pace with the plot never losing much momentum. As I told my best friend Morgannah despite all the weird delicious action and wonderfully dark humour I could nitpick and detract half a star. But the fact is i loved the whole so much and therefrore am refraining from being too nitpicky as this is a really fun tale and I dont have the heart to take anything away from that.
David is an unemployed collector of cursed objects. The savvy Amy is his sweet girlfriend who supports the household. And then there's John, the apocalyptic friend. These are the characters- and the story, unreliably-Mach 8.
David and John do not know their way around a nine to five job. But they do know how to battle monsters and ghoulish evil. Amy is the grounded one on the team. They are the ones the cops calls when children go missing. And one does. Can these two find the Maggie while fighting the darkness, armed with only an air cannon and a speaker wailing monster ballads? And without effing the whole thing up?
Having read this series backward might have been David's favorite thing about this review. I realized I might have lost some nuances of the characters and situations. But this read was a laugh out loud, and slapstick heroes conquer monsters book.
The main protagonists are over the top ridiculous, yet they still retain a down to earth quality. They show soul and vulnerability about where they are in their lives. David's ponderings made him an everyday guy trying to get by in the world and do right by Amy. And John, although fly by the seat of your pants kind of guy would like to have someone to share his life. The characters are just trying to keep up in a chaotically fast life. But enough of this, there is a little girl in the balance!
I read this original book slowly to savor all the interesting details. The story at large was very intriguing and well plotted. The narrative was humorous with punch-drunk dialogue but at times made you empathize with the heroes. The freaky shape-shifters imitating the characters made it challenging to determine who was who. Nothing is as they seem. And actual David, John, and Amy were tri-dimensional and kept me vested in the whirlwind narrative.
Love, love, love this crazy journey into ...
Thank you, NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and the author for this ARC in exchange for my honest review
David Wong always knows how to deliver enjoyable, surprisingly deep, and universally unsettling sci-fi/horror books with his John Dies at the End series.
This installment had a very monster of the week feel to it as Dave and John and Amy find themselves pitted against a foe capable of distorting their memories and minds in unsettling ways. Not a ton of references to the previous books and that is fine by me. I think this series makes more sense as a series of standalone adventures that slowly build and develop the main characters and their relationships. When Wong wants to finish the series for good he will have a rich vein of backstory, world building, and character depth to draw upon to give the story of Amy, John, and Dave a satisfying conclusions (where hopefully John will not die).
We get POV chapters from all three (with John's being the most entertaining by far) and a nice further character development from them all. It is interesting to see the world through each of their own perspectives and how those perspectives differed. We get plenty of action, weird existential horror, and Dave and John's patented screw-ups. Oh, and lots of crude jokes, can't forget about the crude jokes.
Overall an excellent sci-fi/horror book whose horror comes not in jump scares or bloody scenes, but existential ponderings and otherworldly horrors that subvert the very essence of what it means to be human. While not as transcendent as John Dies at the End this was still a great, weird, entertaining read.
I didn’t think it was possible to get any crazier than the first two books in this series but the third book takes it to a whole new level of crazy and weird and wild and I soaked up and adored every single second of it! Right from the beginning I was sucked into what felt like the wildest, fastest and scariest rollercoaster ride I’ve ever been on. This book really doesn’t let up, it just ramps the energy level higher and higher until I felt like I was going to explode with the need to find out how it all end. It’s quite absurd at times and that’s part of why I love it so much, I can’t help but laugh my ass off when a dildo gun is brought into a story! And despite all the craziness and hilarity, it still is quite scary and that’s part of what makes it so great! Wong has found the magic recipe for a book that will make you both laugh and scream.
What the Hell Did I Just Read (John Dies at the End #3) is solid step up from the second JDATE book, This Book is Full of Spiders, which I found to be enjoyable but flawed. And WTHDIJR is an even bigger step up from his last book, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits, which I did not enjoy much at all.
In my opinion this is David Wong's second best book, not far behind the original. It is definitely his most cohesive and well-plotted book yet. It never reaches the giddy heights of the best parts of the original, but it delivers a more consistent entertainment experience throughout the duration.
As with all of his works David Wong's prose is not amazing literature, but hidden within are many clever pearls and strikingly wise observations. Whereas the last two John books started off strong out of the gates before petering off a bit, WTHDIJR starts off with a leisurely pace, only to unveil an incredibly clever twist about midway through that cranks things into high gear and presents some really interesting concepts. Things wind down a bit idea-wise towards the end, but overall I'm 100% pleased with the book and the time I spent reading it.
If you enjoyed JDATE, I can't imagine you wouldn't want to read this one as well.
I've been waiting on this book for years, so I admit I'm a tad disappointed. There were a few things that really annoyed me when I was reading, so even though this was ridiculous and funny, it wasn't nearly as good as it could have been.
First, I don't need the political arguments. I'm reading a book about illusion making maggots, I don't really care about the author's view on the healthcare system. Anyway, it wasn't as if the political views were subtle, they were utterly glaring and sort of took me out of the story.
Second. Oh my freaking god, just kill off Amy already. She is the literal worst. Almost everything she said was utterly annoying and painful to read. I thought she was bad in the last book, she's gotten to levels of annoying that I wasn't sure could exist in a fictional character.
Last, also irritated the balls off of me. I could see it coming, but it was still stupid and pointless and not at all funny.
Overall, this was readable and ridiculous, which are two things I do like about it. As always, without John this probably wouldn't have been a very good book, but his random insanity is at least very refreshing. I really just wish that "David Wong" would stop getting so emo and serious and causing such a mood dissonance in the last two books.
Believe it or not, the Sauce didn’t bring this book to my doorstep. Shocking? Definitely. I mean, how else could it have found me? Perhaps Molly’s ghost could have brought it by. Or maybe Amy thought it might come in handy when [REDACTED] comes looking for me. But no, believe it or not, it was the hooded figures at St. Martin’s Press that sent it my way, in exchange for a review. I have yet to figure out their true motivation for sending this book to find me, but find me it did….
I am going to keep this review spoiler free as I’d hate to be the reason you find out that Dave shoots [REDACTED] right before John took [REDACTED] and that UNDISCLOSED is really [REDACTED]. Also? I’d hate to ruin the reason that Amy finds [REDACTED] traumatic.
When I first got my hands on the book I was tempted to tear through, just gobble it down like a starving monster at an all-night people buffet. But I didn’t. I decided to take it slow and really savor every page, kind of like a monster who’d found a REALLY tasty child to munch on. I’m so glad I did. On the surface, What the Hell Did I Just Read reads like John and Dave’s other adventures, but just like the previous two novels, if you read deeper into the story, you will find shocking layers of horror that you probably weren’t expecting.
Where the first was heavy on the comedy with a healthy dose of horror and the second was heavy on the horror with some comedy, What the Hell is a more equal balance of the two, which I really enjoyed. Instead of long stretches without one or the other, they flowed together much more smoothly this time around. Not that I had a problem with the two previous books, but it made this installment feel more grown up and refined.
Speaking of being more grown up, John still hasn’t. And bless him for it. He is just as ridiculous and over the top as ever, whereas Dave really struggles in this one. He’s having a hard time coping with where he’s at in life and it’s this storyline that takes this book from being just a crazy monster ride into being something so much more. His struggles are, at times, painfully relatable. One of my favorite things about these books is Wong’s ability to infuse the supernatural horror with so much humanity. That is what makes these reads such a treat for me.
The monster storyline in this book had me shocked, amused and horrified. There was one point where I had to put the book down and walk away. My mind was blown. Still is at the thought of that particular moment. It’s with John racing away from the church, that’ all I’ll say.
I marked this book five stars, but I really think that 4 ¾ is more accurate. My only issue with the book was that I wanted a little more resolution in the end – from both the human and monster storylines. I’m not someone who needs everything wrapped up perfectly, but it was just a little too open for me. I can only hope that this means we’ll get a fourth adventure; one that will address Dave’s struggles more.
There are so many books I want to read, so many that are piled up in my bedroom waiting to be read. I have this terrible feeling that I will never make it through everything I want to read. But this one was my most anticipated book of 2017 from the moment I heard about it. I had the whole release day planned out for October 7th, but getting to read it early was an incredible gift. These books touch something deep within me and I connect to them on a soul-deep level. I don’t know what that says about me, or my soul. Perhaps that means it’s filled with [REDACTED], I don’t know. But I love these books dearly and thank you David Wong for giving them to us. I can’t wait to see what’s next…………
There better be a next, or I’ll have to [REDACTEDREDACTEDREDACTEDREDACTEDREDAC…….]
Definitely the best book David Wong has written. A very mature (did I really just say that?) and polished entry in the JDatE saga that still retains the sophomoric humor and zaniness of its predecessors. I have no idea how this book was not monumentally confusing but he writes and explains things in such a way that I never felt lost and I always knew who was who. There were laugh out loud moments but also scenes that poke your heart and make you feel your feelings, did I mention how mature this one is? All three in the series are pretty much standalone and can be read independently but to get the full effect of who everyone is and what they mean to each other, start from book one. Top notch, quality entertainment, I highly recommend.
What the Hell Did I Just Read by David Wong is the third book in the John Dies at the End series. It is a serious blast and a hell of a fun ride. This book is equal to the brilliance of the first book and it really makes up for a flat second one.
This book is written for me. From the first page to the last it is a bizzaro, freaky, science fiction romp that is filled with characters that I love. The funny thing about these strange books is that the story really doesn't matter. David Wong has such an amazing style that makes you think, laugh, and cringe out loud. I absolutely love it. He also writes characters that I really love.
The title is of this book is so appropriate and only David Wong could have such hysterical titles that also somehow fit the theme of the book. This is one of the most fun series that I’ve ever read, and even though I think I liked the last one a little bit more, What the Hell Did I Just Read was so entertaining. It had the elements of mystery and horror paired with that laugh out loud type humor that I’ve come to expect from this series, and I love it every single time I pick it up. In this entry, there are alternate dimensions, “fuckroaches” (yes that is an actual creature in the book that John unsurprisingly came up with the name for), and a dildo cannon that is surprisingly effective at bringing down supernatural creatures. Dave is still the hero of the book who’s doing his best to try and save the town and the people that he loves, Amy is still the heart and soul of the team, and John is still completely ridiculous. I love this series so much, and if/when another book comes out you can be sure I’ll binge-read it on release day.
Review: WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST READ?: A NOVEL OF COSMIC HORROR by David Wong
I laughed throughout this book, especially gleeful because I usually take everything seriously, even solemnly. I couldn't help but chortle at the antics and consequences of this feckless trio of semi-nitwits, well-meaning but imperfect. This was the first of the "David Wong" novels I had read (JOHN DIES AT THE END; THIS BOOK IS FULL OF SPIDERS) but now I intend to rectify that. John and Dave remind me of boys on the cusp of adolescence, in attitude, perception, and yes, immaturity. In large part, their monster-hunting is adventure as much or more than "saving the world," and for John, it's also a money venue. David's love Amy is a "do-gooder" with a soft heart. She is also the breadwinner. Although she doesn't perceive monsters, she believes, and brings a much-needed logic to their efforts.
The third entry in this series and back to form as far as the characters’ personalities. The parts shown through John’s eyes are always a treat. There were some creepy scenes in alternate universes. I love how unreliable John and David are as narrators and how unreliable their universe is in general.
I've been a fan of David Wong for a while now. I started reading his articles on cracked, then found out he had a book published online that I could read for free. I read it in one sitting, staying up all night. The next day I went to my local book store and bought a hard copy of John Dies at the End and read it a second time. I pre-ordered The sequel, This Book is Full of Spiders, and devoured it when it eventually arrived at my doorstep. When I found out That Mr. Wong was writing a Sci-fi novel I pre-ordered and devoured that book as well. So, it should go without saying I was excited when six months ago I learned I could pre-order the third JDatE novel. It arrived two days ago and I just finished reading it. It's good. It's filled with all of the things that made me love the other books. However, this one veers in a more open ended direction. This is why my rating is a bit low. I enjoy vague or interpretive endings, but there are so many instances in WtHDIJR that conflict with the ending that it just leaves me feeling a bit disappointed in the final pages. This novel is definitely an example of the journey being more satisfying than the destination. I'm hoping it isn't as vague as it initially appears and that when I eventually re-read this book things will clear up at least a little. I don't want to spoil anything from the book so I won't go into detail about the conflicting instances I take issue with. It isn't the first time the ending to one of these books didn't tie everything up in a neat little bow. The first book in the series actually has a huge plot hole that was left dangling that I hoped would maybe be cleared up in this one. It's possible that it was, but because of the vagueness of what actually occurred in the story it's hard to say. Overall I loved this book and upon a second reading my rating may change. There is nothing wrong with a story adding clarity on a second or third read. The damage here is that there was too much left in the wind, too many questions left without answers, and the questions themselves being trivialized a bit by the ending. It's just as funny, exciting, and horrifying as the other books, but the overall plot isn't as well executed as This Book is Full of Spiders. I look forward to whatever David Wong's next project is. He is my favorite modern author and an inspiration in my own writing. This book is for anyone who read the first two. Although it is readable as a standalone, you really should read the first two books before jumping into this one. For anyone wondering if they'll enjoy the first book, you'll like it if you enjoy meat monsters, crude humor, and a lingering existential dread that at any moment you could cease to exist in any capacity, not even being a memory in the hearts and minds of your loved ones.
**update** Having re-read the book I can say I'm mostly just as confused from the first reading. I noticed a few things I didn't before. Like, John's chapters are more than likely fabricated. That Amy knew more about what was going on than she let on, also casting her sections into doubt. Each time a chapter would shift perspective the name of the pov character would be displayed before the prose. Except for David. Each chapter that starts with his pov doesn't have his name at the beginning. Now, I could chalk this up to a style thing, but if a chapter started with John, Amy, or whoever else, it would clearly state there name before the beginning of the chapter. Only two of the chapters that start from Dave's pov actually say the name "David" in the beginning. Possibly an editorial fluke, but it could mean something. Throughout the book the town of Undisclosed is in the middle of a rainstorm, until the BATMANTIS??? is killed. Once he dies, the storm ends.
Last thing I'll say I thought was neat that I didn't notice before, Early in the book Dave mentions knowing the exact wording to the famous speech that Roy Batty gives at the end of Blade Runner. Later in the book, the villain, Nymph, gives his own rendition of the same speech.
Obviously it's a good book because I enjoyed it both times that I read it. I was going to change my rating to 4 stars if I finished a second reading and found myself making sense of the misleading narrative. Unfortunately, it's just as confusing as before. Not enough evidence is given to justify the "twist" at the end making it feel a bit week compared to the first and second books.
The most consistent and straight forward book in the series so far. That ended up being both a curse and a blessing. The first book had the highest highs but also had large chunks of dull, repetitive and complete misses. The second book while overall better than the first had large dull patches but a killer beginning and end. Here with the third book the story starts off well enough but the narrative style feels different and the wackiness feels a little more forced here. 3.5/5.
John and Dave are growing up. But don't worry, this doesn't mean that they've changed too much. If you want to be reassured that they're still the same people they ever were, then know that John has a side hustle selling JDATE merch on the internet, and Dave's too principled to get involved in it.
And yet this book is darker than the earlier novels. If the existential horror can't get any worse, then the mundane horror of everyday life can. Dave's resume is now worthless, as all his experience is from the video rental store, an industry which no longer exists. He's unemployed and his girlfriend earns all their income. A difficult and depressing situation for a man who wants nothing more than to protect and cherish his girl, and is too proud to count his unpaid work saving the universe. Dave's depressed – and all the nihilistic comedy in the world can't stop that being, well, depressing. Meanwhile, John's borderline substance abuse problem has escalated all the way to a secret-not-secret meth habit. I suppose there is a time when we all realise that the coping strategies which were so useful in our early twenties are maladaptive as we approach our thirties.
If I'm making this sound bleak, don't worry, there's still a ton of dick flying dildo jokes. Like Shakespeare, Wong will not allow the fact that everyone is going to die at the end prevent him including plenty of knob gags. I am utterly in awe of Wong's ability to shift from juvenile potty humour, to genuinely spooky horror, to snarky observations on human nature, to some really profound philosophy. I was going to say 'shift seamlessly' but actually there are occasions where the plot bumps you viciously from one to the other for maximum effect.
The fourth wall is still being dismantled and used as structural support for the rest of the plot and now we have three terribly unreliable narrators instead of one. This leads to some really interesting puzzles and twists, but I left 3 months between reading the book and writing the review so you'll have to wait for next year's re-read before I expand on that point. But trust me, this is a really clever and devious book and you're missing a lot if you only read it at dick level.
Book series are hard. In general I end up despising many of them because they take a unique story and transform it into something formulaic for the sake of keeping the flame alive, and some things are better left off alone. The same day I ended reading What The Hell Did I Just Read I watched Blade Runner: 2049, the sequel to what I guess we should now call Blade Runner: 2019, and with the movie sequel and this third entry in Jason Pargin's series I got different experiences. I won't dwell on Blade Runner, but let's just say that it uses shock value to hide that it very much wants to have a formulaic third entry (not to demerit the artistry behind cameras in what is one of the most beautiful cinematic experiences of the decade). What The Hell Did I Just Read follows This Book is Full of Spiders which is a great sequel that resisted the temptations of Blade Runner: 2049, and you can see the effects in this third book. The second novel in the cosmic horror and comedy series (a hybrid that Jason Pargin continues to master with precision) was able to stand on its own but offered enough to please readers who wantED to see the story laid out in the first novel have some progress. It, however, didn't address in detail and toy with the biggest plot twist of its first novel, which had always left me hopeful that the third novel would give me answers. Still, This Book is Full of Spiders remains one of the best reading experiences I've ever had and it will always occupy a special place in my heart. When that novel ended, Jason Pargin promised a third entry, and even alluded on social media that it would be the last, so I expected some major answers to lingering questions that I'm sure many of us share. Will John actually die? Are there any ramifications to David's replaced identity? What are the consequences of David's books within its universe, since he publishes them outside of Undisclosed and they are read within that universe? After about three years of patiently waiting—if not more, I can't remember the dates—, I can say with relief that the wait was worthwhile. Are there any answers to my questions above? Not exactly, but the novel does something that takes it into new territory and it left me wanting more. But I do have to tell you something. Before reading the last chapter, I was planning to give this book a three-star rating. At first, the novel felt completely alien thanks to the choices David, John, and Amy were making, and I thought it was pointlessly breaking the rules it had set up for itself after the second novel. The novel starts like just another terrifying challenge for the gang to chase, as if it were an inconsequential episode of an animated series or a mystery that a detective needs to solve without getting any character development. As far as the “just another challenge" qualifier, the novel remains like that from beginning to its second-to-last chapter; it's not just a gateway into something larger than life, and this was the first thing that began to scare me. Was this series going to become episodic in nature? If so, why would it take three years? I mean, if it was planning to become formulaic, that's fine, but that doesn't merit a ridiculous wait time (ahem... Game of Thrones jumped the shark in its most recent season and now it's a clear cut battle between good and evil instead of the nuanced conflict with shades of grey that it had set out itself to be). Sure, I was enjoying every single page of the ride and its multiplicity of tones to tell a story from multiple angles which allow the novel to operate on multiple levels. After all, that's what continues to make this series stand out. These are not just cosmic horror novels and they are not just a series of funny jokes and gross-out moments. They offer social criticism and work as allegorical tales to discuss themes such as identity, reality, subjectivity, and all the words ending in -ty. "Titty?" John said. Except that one, John!!! Sorry, where was I? Right. Jason Pargin can deliver pretty fucking good novels even when they are standard. Except this isn't a standard novel, but let's not skip ahead. It was really bothersome at first that our three main characters, especially Amy, would suddenly act so unreasonably as if they were just doing stupid shit to feed the plot instead of out of their own denseness because the characters had done a lot of growing up in the second novel already, or so I thought. This problem made the novel even more jarring when the characters actually did a 180 and stopped to truly ask themselves what the hell they were doing with their lives and how unhealthy they were, not just physically, but emotionally. For a couple of moments I thought “This is it, this is when Jason Pargin forces us to hate Amy just to get rid of her, the same way moronic writers had done away with female characters in the past, while also leaving us with a bitter taste thanks to a stubborn protagonist who doesn't want to grow up and wallow in his misery just to make sure that upcoming sequels can remain formulaic" (this is the quintessential basis of serialized stories, such as James Bond, and any cartoon from back in the day, since modern cartoons are trying to abandon this, much to the criticism of mainstream audiences, unfortunately, because I love this new direction). I'm thankful that I was completely wrong. At least I hope I'm right about my interpretation about the significance of the last chapter. If you loved the first two novels for any reason, you'll most likely love this one. If you loved them for the same reasons I loved them, perhaps you'll find it problematic, but the ending makes all of its apparent problems feel deliberate and, instead of problems, they are great things that make this novel transcend and stand alongside the first two entries as a fresh chapter in the series but also as an innovative book. So only read the next part if you've read the book or you want to discuss spoilers.
4.5 stars. Another excllent novel from Mr. Wong. Filled with highly imaginative plot twists, monsters, villians and just the right mix of humor and terror. I have thouroghly enjoyed this entire trilogy, which I hope will add another book to the series. Once again, David, John and Amy find themselves involved with another "otherwordly" occurance in Undisclosed (the author NEVER reveals the name of the town the stories occurs in) that, naturally, lands them in trouble with the police, the FBI, an ex-special forces man, a motorcycle gang and a tough as nails, prepared-for-anything woman. Anything and everything ensues, from the use of plastic butts, sulfer-laden flying dildos and blue beams that erases one's mind. Add to that another trip on the Soy Sauce by David & John that winds up causing more problems, danger and hilarity and the author captivates the reader with amazing flights of imagination, deft plot twists and more character developement. Mr. Wong, in my opinion, has solidified his place in the literary world of fictional paranormal, mild horror and satirical humor. Quite a combination that all leads to a thoroughly entertaining and compeling work that deserves high praise from this reader and most certainly a recommended read to others who read the first two books in the trilogy. Like the author states, "So you want to hear a story? Well, buckle the fuck up." Truer words were never written. Enjoy...and remember: beware the Sauce!!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
****Dildo Launchers, a Vaginapond, and Where did I get that Dog???****
‘What the Hell Did I Just Read’ is perhaps the most aptly titled books of all books thus far written. In fact, it’s the question I asked myself, chapter after chapter after chapter.
After finishing the book, I’m still not sure of the answer – but I did enjoy the book.
If this is your first experience with David Wong, I can only say: STOP NOW!!!! Seriously, go back and read John Dies at the End. First, because you’ll then have some idea of who our characters are, what they do, and you’ll have the slightest glimmer of what’s going on in this book. Second, because you’ll then be familiar with Wong’s style – and it’s a most unusual style to those new to him.
To this book – It’s a high octane, suspenseful, and, yes, often ridiculous adventure. The intensity doesn’t let up for a minute. In fact, I took a break mid-book to read something else, just because I was getting exhausted by it. Once I finished my much needed brain break and returned to the book, it was a quick finish to the oddly satisfying end.
Expect violence, foul language, foul smells, and did I mention dildo launchers?
These books are just getting better and better. I loved it, honestly. The humor is just totally up my alley (which says a lot about me I know) and David Wong just has such a writing talent that has me laughing and shuddering in the same sentence.
I can't wait for anything else he'll write hopefully, another David and John book because these are the best and I really don't want this to be the last of the series (also looking forward to book two of FVaFS which is coming out soon I heard)
2.0 Stars. This is the third book in the John Dies at the End series. Each book sees narrator Dave and his best friend John as they deal with whatever supernatural entity has befallen their midwestern town this time. I'll say this for the series, it takes big swings. But this time it just didn't land for me in the way that the first two books did.
I think my biggest issue with this volume was that the plot was not nearly as tight as it was in This Book is Full of Spiders. The monsters they were battling (a parasitic insect) also felt too similar to that book. Their ability to take on any form and implant false memories reminded me constantly of the Rick and Morty episode "Total Rickall" which was released 2 years before this book.
The first two books in this series were so incredibly ludicrous, so utterly batshit yet genius, I have to admit, I wondered how author David Wong could possibly keep the pure creativity, unpredictability, and laugh out loud humor of this series going for a third volume.
But he did. With flying colors. This is exactly as hilarious, horrifying, and unpredictable as the first two books in the series.
Catch up. John has bought a house (with what income I don't know), Dave is unemployed, and Amy is working a night job to support her and Dave. One day John and Dave are approached by a war veteran named Ted. He says his daughter has gone missing. Sounds like the kind of thing better suited to the cops, not this pair of slacker heroes. It's not, as John would say, "a screaming clown dick."
Except only a few days before his daughter went missing, Ted was approached by a man named nymph. Nymph informed him he'd be kidnapping Maggie, and then she disappeared from a locked room.
I can't say anymore.
It gets so wonderfully "out there" just like the other two books that to say anything more would be to spoil the many surprises contained within. This book is so similar to the first two in that it has perfect comedic timing, terrific world building and lore, great character work, and a concept that explores metaphysics and the root of human fear in a fascinating and scary way.
To me, that's what makes this series so special. Wong knows how to tap into humans most primal fears, make us recognize them, recoil from them, and laugh at them all at once. In the hands of a lesser author, this series would be a hot mess, but Wong is three for three for knocking it out of the park. And it does all this while still feeling like a radically different type of horror story than its predecessors. The first book was about confronting a dark being who is above humanity, the second was about mistrust in your fellow man and this one is about... Well you'll just have to read it and see.
If nothing I've said has convinced you to read this, there's a chapter called "the great dildo flood." Anything with a title like that is immediately art, I don't care what anyone says and not liking this book means you don't like art which means you're a filthy heathen.