Sent to me by Titan Books in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 03/10/17
Publisher: Titan Books
Format: Paperback, 448pp
Summed up in a word: Outlandish
It is soooooo good to be back with this series! I am a huge fan of David Wong (Jason Pargin) and I can’t get enough if his writing. This series is not for everyone but it is exceptional enough to have a dedicated cult following. If you want to ease into Wong’s writing then I recommend Futuristic Violence & Fancy Suits as a starting point. The John Dies At The End series is the definition of bizarre. Wong’s writing has this refreshing absurdity that I can’t seem to get from authors these days (other than Chuck Palahnuik). I really appreciated the fact that Wong has scaled back the randomness a notch and focused on a thrilling and mind bending story that I could really invest in. More in my full review below
From the writer of the cult sensation John Dies at the End comes another terrifying and hilarious tale of almost Armageddon at the hands of two hopeless heroes.
It’s the story “They” don’t want you to read. Though, to be fair, “They” are probably right about this one. No, don’t put the book back on the shelf – it is now your duty to purchase it to prevent others from reading it. Yes, it works with ebooks, too; I don’t have time to explain how.
While investigating a fairly straightforward case of a shape-shifting interdimensional child predator, Dave, John, and Amy realized there might actually be something weird going on. Together, they navigate a diabolically convoluted maze of illusions, lies, and their own incompetence in an attempt to uncover a terrible truth that they – like you – would be better off not knowing.
Your first impulse will be to think that a story this gruesome – and, to be frank, stupid – cannot possibly be true. That is precisely the reaction “They” are hoping for.
It is great to be back with John, David and Amy and their crazy antics. David Wong writes with such an infectious and entertaining peculiarity that I can’t get enough of. I have read all of Wong’s books and I have to say that What The Hell Did I Just Read? is the most well rounded and engaging episode of the series so far. With a fantastic story, which includes an unforgettable enemy, compelling and nuanced characters and writing that creeps you out/makes you laugh/is exceptionally bizarre this is a must read for all fans of the weird and wonderful; I laughed so hard for a lot of this book as the atmosphere and dialogue was spot-on as usual. It is like Men In Black meets Dude Where’s My Car? influenced by Chuck Palahnuik and Stephen King. (Just a quick note, you should really read the other instalments before getting into this as it can’t really be read as a standalone without you going whaaaaaaaaaat?)
John and David are, for lack of a better term, paranormal investigators. They are the go to people for creatures of darkness, aliens, shadows, ghosts and other worldly entities. It isn’t like they go out of their way to find these monstrosities, it kind of just happens to them. Protecting the streets of their home town of [Undisclosed] is what they do and most of the time they do it for free. In What The Hell Did I Just Read? John and David have been tasked with finding a lost child. A young girl has disappeared from her home, vanished into thin air, and the only clue is a dark character called Nymph who visited the house a few days prior. John and David have an innate ability to understand the workings of the universe that makes them better and dealing with cases beyond our own understanding. They are soon chasing leads, finding clues and by extension evil creatures.
Not long after the case begins John, David and Amy are thrust into a fight against creatures who can alter reality, manipulate those around them and change memories. The crew must overcome an ever changing battlefield, brainwashed citizens and a dreaded, unbelievable and monstrous entity that is assumed to be a legend. This story was so good! It is by far the most cohesive, well rounded and compelling story of the series. The other two instalments are great but they are so random at times it is absurd and kind of frustrating. WTHDIJR? Changes the formal slightly and amps up the story with a slight reduction in the overall outlandishness of the whole endeavour. This was much appreciated as I was able to follow the story arc with better comprehension without being left feeling confused or annoyed. For readers of this series, you will probably have an idea of what I mean.
The standout element of this book has to be Wong’s writing. As I have mentioned numerous times, DW writes with a blend of thriller, fantasy, science-fiction and action. DW has created a peculiar but captivating dynamic within the town of [Undisclosed] and I honestly could read his stories for hours. In WTHDIJR? David narrates the story as it is happening with occasional insights from Amy and John; as well as the writings of the Paranormal Expert Albert Marconi. I won’t go too much into the characters as they are sort of ‘see them to believe them’ but each member of the group tells the story with a different tone.
David is your typical unflappable/indifferent type with a lack of self-preservation and severe issues with the world he lives in. Amy is emotional, pragmatic and risky all at once. My favourite is John who tells the story in a heroic, over-indulgent and larger than life style which I genuinely looked forward to when I came across them. I was also thoroughly impressed with the ‘villain’ of the story, I thought ‘they’ were imaginative creations that made this story excellent instead of just great. I can’t go too much into it but I was astounded by how well DW crafted the gang’s new threat and it was a dynamic delight to behold.
I don’t really have that many issues with the text as I feel that WTHDIJR? has actually improved the series by a mile. The fluidity and enjoyment of the series was amped up with a solid story that infuses DW’s refreshingly random writing but isn’t completely defined by it. I would say that there are a few moments in the book that change the tone and atmosphere of the book, not always clearly, and they can challenge the reader. There are some tough themes included as the story is centred around missing children and David and John dealing the parents. I was impressed by the nuanced feeling of the writing this time around. WTHDIJR? is mainly a hilariously entertaining romp but it is nice to see that there is depth and challenging writing included to round of the story.
Overall I was very impressed with this instalment. I hope that DW continues this series as I can’t seem to get enough of it, especially after reading WTHDIJR?. I am hoping that DW explores John’s character more in the future but his mysterious nature is one of the main reasons I keep coming back for more so maybe not. I highly recommend this series to all those readers who want to invite unforgettable characters and weird and wonderful storylines into their reading time.
About David Wong (Jason Pargin)
David Wong is the pseudonym of Jason Pargin, online humorist, National Lampoon contributor, and editor-in-chief of Cracked.com.