Tuesday, August 21, 2012

John Dies at the End by David Wong

Plot: "The important thing is this: The drug is called soy sauce, and it gives users a window into another dimension. John and I never had the chance to say no. You still do. ...As you read about these terrible events and the very dark epoch the world is about to enter as a result, it is crucial you keep one thing in mind: none of this is my fault." (excerpts from back cover of book)

Note: David Wong is the pseudonym of Jason Pargin.

Comments: This book is... strange. Also shocking, malformed, surprisingly hilarious, and rather creepy. John Dies at the End is a whirlwind story that no one can ever really understand. It hooked my attention, made me laugh, and caused me to see nightmares everywhere.

I very quickly grew attached to the main character, Dave. I also grew to love his best friend John and the random assortment of other characters. John adds heavily to the hilarity of this story, while Dave piles up the emotional factor. The two work well together in a way that makes you scratch your head.

There are many things in this book that will be unclear and muddled, but that's how it's supposed to be. It's best not to question too many aspects. Just grab hold of the first page and hang on for the ride. It's a wild ride, but well worth it. Pay attention to every word and just keep reading.

Sometimes it seemed like the book hit a dead end, but there was always a story that continued on. I wouldn't try to guess what will happen next, because there are more twists and turns and random happenstances in this book than you could shake a stick at. The point of the story isn't evident.

A warning: this book freaked me out. I read parts of it at night and wished I hadn't.

Rating: I rate John Dies at the End a nine out of ten.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Plot: Young English adventurer Robinson Crusoe shares his tales of misfortune and survival as he travels the world. He lives through shipwrecks, encounters with cannibals, and many years on a deserted island.

Comments: Robinson Crusoe is an old book. It was first published in 1719, so as you can guess, the language is odd. The way in which Crusoe speaks can make some sentences confusing. Most of it is understandable, if outdated.

Another thing about the book being old: it's racist and religious. The foreign tribesmen of the Caribbean are treated as animals, which was the way they were viewed by England in the 1700's. I didn't like reading those parts, but it's from a long time ago. Don't be offended because the past is past and things are better now. As for the religion, I accepted that Crusoe was religious and left it at that. It doesn't have to affect the story.

The story itself was interesting. Crusoe certainly survived many fatal situations. It was fun to read about how he grew his civilization on the island where he spent so many years. I didn't always understand the science of how he did things, but the general concepts were clear.

The sense of time in this book seemed rather skewed to me. Sometimes Crusoe would say "two years later..." Also, he described all the things he did on the island, then explained afterwards that this took him years. Everything he did seemed so in the moment, until you realize he's been doing it for months. I can't imagine having the patience and determination to begin projects knowing they'll take that much time away. The book encompasses many years of his life, and it felt strangely like fast-forwarding.

Rating: I rate Robinson Crusoe a seven out of ten. A good read, and a classic.