John Dies at the End

5

First off, I am completely guilty of judging books and movies by their covers AND their titles.  When I first heard of the movie, There Will Be Blood, I was totally psyched to see the movie, because with a title like that, how could it not be excellent.  The movie was not at all what I expected, but I wasn’t disappointed.  I still think that it should be the title of a zombie flick, or a vampire movie.  So when this particular novel popped up on my Amazon.com suggestions, I was intrigued.  And just like There Will Be BloodJohn Dies at the End wasn’t what I expected, but I was not at all disappointed.

I finished this book about two weeks ago, but I couldn’t put into words what I felt about the story.  I knew I liked it, but I didn’t really know why. And the book is so involved, I think I needed time to digest everything that occurred.  I’m not entirely sure what to define this as, except as a comedy(?), it wasn’t always scary, but it was really funny. And eerie, then creepy, but always funny.   And I guess since it deals with alternate realities and demons it is part of the supernatural spectrum of the horror genre.  I mean, bad things happen in this book–like end of the world type shit.  But John and Dave are so funny; and nonchalant about the what they see and experience, you find yourself chuckling despite the horror going on around them (at least I did).

This book is jam-packed with comedy and action.  I know I couldn’t put it down because I wanted to find out the rest of the story.

Synopsis:  First, the book is told in the first person narrative by David Wong, the author and one of the main characters.  He’s telling the whole weird tale to an investigative reporter who has heard of Dave and John through weird web blogs that talk about the supernatural events Dave and John have “taken care of”.  Dave Wong (not his real name btw, he’s not even Asian)  then spins this unreal, tangled tale of demons and alternate universes that want to take over our own world.  And it all began for these two slackers (John and David) with a drug called soy sauce.  John and David, a pair of college dropouts that work at a video store, are what stand between our world and an invasion.

There is just so much going on in this book, I can’t really do this book justice with a small synopsis–so I’m not really going to try.  I advise you to pick this book up and read it.  I mean, it has strange beasts, hauntings,  a portal to hell in an unfinished mall, a drug that can possess you, shadow people,  a dog that won’t die–I really can’t list the entire tangled web of events that go down.

I like this book cover the best because it's just as busy as the story inside

Here’s a taste of why I really dug this book–The Set-Up: the gang, along with the main characters John and David are being held captive by Justin/monster and are prepared to fight when he opens the door.  They are telling each other things like, if I die, get rid my drugs and porno stash–stuff like that (you know the usual). And then we get to Fred and John:

(From the book) 

Fred whispered, “Okay. If I don’t come back, and say they don’t got my body,

like if Justin eats me or somethin’, tell everybody you don’t know what

happened.Make it mysterious. And then a year later spread rumors that

you’ve seen me wanderin’ around town. That way I’ll be like fuckin’ Bigfoot,

everybody claiming to have seen me here and there. Legend of Fred Chu.” John

nodded, as if he were committing this to memory. He lit his own firebombs,

glanced up at me and asked,“You got any final requests, in case this don’t

end well?” “Yeah. Avenge my death.”

On a personal note, this is exactly how I want my death to be–mysterious and righteous, and right when people are moving on with their lives after my loss–people will start seeing me around.  Am I dead, or did I fake my death?!

AND IT DOESN”T END THERE!

There is already a sequel in the works, entitled:  THIS BOOK IS FULL OF SPIDERS:  Seriously, Dude Don’t Touch It

PLUS:  John Dies At the End is now a movie soon to be released. Directed by Don Coscarelli, (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep). Starring two dudes I’ve never heard of as John and Dave and Paul Giamatti.  Coming out in 2012.

Here’s the link, check it out:  http://www.johndiesattheend.com

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

0

First off, you know that saying, Don’t judge a book by its cover.  Well, sometimes I am completely guilty of that.  I mean, come on, look at the cover.  It entices you to pick it up, lures you to it.  So I did.  And I was not disappointed.

When I read the jacket before I purchased it, I was immediately intrigued.   The author, Ransom Riggs,  took beautiful yet unusual photographs and wove  a coherent tale out of them.

An image used in the novel. Jacob's grandfather tells him, this man had a mouth on the front and back side of his head!

The main character, Jacob, had always been enthralled with his grandpa’s adventure tales.  His grandfather had lost his family,  grown up in an orphanage, joined the army, and traveled the world over.  His colorful tales made Jacob want to be just like him.  When Jacob gets a little older, the tales just aren’t that believable anymore.  But then his grandfather’s unusual murder and cryptic last words send Jacob to the small island his grandfather grew up on, to find anyone who could confirm the stories of gifted orphans with amazing powers.

I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just leave it at–Jacob finds his own adventure.

The images Riggs used, he got from many collectors of “found” photography.  People who’ve amassed collections of interesting old photographs.  The images are fantastic.  I hope this becomes a series and we get to see more. Also, quite an interesting hobby-found photography.  The photos are amazing. I mean, today with photoshop and other various means, even the rank amateur can manipulate photos.  But these were the real pros, using light and double exposure and other means to create a picture of a girl suspended in air (which is what the pic on the cover of the book is, she is levitating–that’s right, take another look.  Did you realize her feet weren’t touching the ground?).

Wonderful photos, colorful tale.  I hope there will be more to come.  Definitely checking out Ransom Riggs’s other novels.

Midnight Movie

2

Midnight Movie, a novel by Tobe Hooper and Alan Goldsher

.

Do I really have to say it?  A book by the creator of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Alan Goldsher wrote Paul is Undead, which is next on my list to read.  It got really good reviews on Amazon.com. I’ve noticed that every ad for the book touted that.  And all I could think is: really? Do people really need to be reminded that Tobe Hooper created The Texas Chainsaw Massscre.  I was excited about the book, and couldn’t wait to download it onto my Kindle.

It’s a work of meta-fiction.  That means Tobe Hooper tells the tale himself, for the most part.  We glean the rest of the story from notes from a government agent, the blog of a twenty-something girl, the tweets of home terrorists, the scribbling of a madman, and the main characters themselves.  The book reminds me of Max Brooks’ World War Z (my favorite book-ever) in that it blends other people’s stories together, along with just enough real-life fact to make you wonder.

Long Story-Short:

Tobe is invited to speak at the showing of his never-before-scene first movie, Destiny Express(I won’t lie, I googled this, hoping it really existed).  The movie is creepy, but more than anything, just terrible.  But things begin to happen to the people who attended the viewing. Before long, people are dying by the thousands.  Tobe’s movie, one he doesn’t even remember making, is causing people to become zombies.  Tobe gets together with a few people, and the original cast of Destiny Express(those still alive) to recreate the movie and understand what is going on.

I loved this book.  Tobe took the best of grindhouse and mockumentary and made it into a gruesome and sometimes humorous novel.  On a personal note, I’m always tickled when a story or movie takes place somewhere I’ve actually been to, and as a fellow Texan, I’ve been to a few of the places he mentioned.

The Evil That Men Do

3

When I was high school, I had to memorize Marc Antony’s funeral oration in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, one bit that always stuck with me, other than the famous lend me your ears line is the part right after that:  The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.  Whenever I recite it in my mind it’s in Richard Burton’s voice. Marc Antony meant this speech to be sarcastic, while his words approved with Caesar’s assassination, he really changed the public’s minds and turned the tide against the killers, who eventually where hunted down and killed.  But I digress, I love that line, the evil that men do….so ominous, I’m sure it’s a tagline for plethora of horror books and novels.

We can name some horrible people whose existence has eradicated the lives of a certain people, like Hitler or Pol Pot.  Their very touch was a  cancer to those lives they managed not to extinguish.  The evil that they did certainly has trickled down after them.  

One day while browsing through a bookstore, I came upon  a book called The Devil In The White City:  A Saga of Magic and Murder at The Fair That changed America by Erik Larson, I admit I was attracted by its cover and that title font that oddly reminded me of The Wizard of Oz (I don’t know why).  The book sat on my shelf for quite sometime, until I finally took it down and read it.  I don’t know what to say, I was mesmerized by the story.  It takes place during the time of the Chicago’s World Fair.  I truly don’t know what to say that hasn’t been said before:  it’s well-written, it’s comes off wonderfully imaginative despite being based on truth.  On the one hand you have this story of American Progress, of all the people and technology that came together to create the World Fair, which must have been amazing to behold, and this book puts you right in the middle of it, and on the other hand  you have the underbelly of Chicago, where a man preys on the anonymity of the many who flocked to Chicago for the fair or for work, and were never seen alive again.  This man created a house of horrors where he tortured women for pleasure.  The story is vivid, and I love the way the author highlights his tale by showing us the amazing feats of humanity at the fair and the depths of depravity committed by H. H. Holmes.  How many novels can you name that simultaneously charmed and disturbed you?

46 countries worked together and participated in the fair, the extraordinary work that people put in to bring about the fair was, yeah, i’m running out of synonyms for extraordinary, but that’s what it was-extraordinary.  

H.H. Holmes confessed to the murder of 27 people, but is believed to have killed over 200 in his “torture castle.”  The evil of H.H. Holmes lives on in his infamy.

The infamous H. H. Holmes

I have just purchased on my PC Kindle app, Eric Larsen’s latest novel, In the Garden of Beasts:  Love, Terror, and An American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, which I cannot wait to read.