Mark Reads ‘John Dies at the End’: Prologue

In the prologue of John Dies at the End, I have no fucking clue what I just read. Intrigued? Then it’s just time for Mark to start John Dies at the End.


I am coming into this book knowing two things:

  1. John dies at the end.
  2. Paul Giamatti is in the movie version of this book.

I have never felt less prepared in my entire life. Nothing – nothing – could have helped me with this. What have I gotten myself into?

If you already happen to know the awful secret behind the universe, feel free to skip ahead.

Well, I don’t, so this isn’t fair.

On one bitter winter day, you use said ax to behead a man. Don’t worry, the man was already dead. Or maybe you should worry, because you’re the one who shot him.

But… but I didn’t do anything. I didn’t shoot anyone!

Teeth filed into razor-sharp fangs – you know the type.

Oh my god, no, I don’t.

The repaired ax sits undisturbed in your garage until the spring when, on one rainy morning, you find in your kitchen a creature that appears to be a foot-long slug with a bulging egg sac on its tail.

But. But what? Where did that come from? What is it?

As soon as you get home, you meet the reanimated body of the guy you beheaded earlier. He’s also got a new head, stitched on with what looks like plastic weed-trimmer line, and it’s wearing that unique expression of “you’re the man who killed me last winter” resentment that one so rarely encounters in everyday life.


You brandish your ax. The guy takes a long look at the weapon with his squishy, rotting eyes and in a gargly voice he screams, “That’s the same ax that beheaded me!”

What the fuck???

Is he right?

Well, technically… no, I’d say he’s not. It has a new handle and a new head, so it’s not the same ax that beheaded – wait a second. What the hell is going on? How is this possible? How do you start a book this way? But that’s what John Dies at the End does, and I suppose it does it incredibly well. David Wong drops us into a bewildering, overwhelming, and chaotic universe, explains almost none of the rules, and heads straight for a bizarre parody of gross-out horror that is… well, I gotta say, this shit is unique. I have nothing to compare this to at all, at least not yet. I understand nothing here, y’all. Which is okay for the time being, but the three videos for this prologue essentially feature me freaking out every thirty seconds because what the fuck am I reading???

No, seriously, within the first ten pages, we learn that:

  • Dave believes his phone is being bugged by someone.
  • Dave knew someone named Frank Campo who experienced highly realistic hallucinations that he believed were real.
  • Dave and John routinely are asked for “help” with visions, ghosts, and other weird occurrences that seem to have no pattern between them whatsoever. Are they ghost hunters? Rogue demon hunters? Psychics? I DON’T UNDERSTAND.
  • Shelly comes to Dave because her dead boyfriend is abusing her.
  • !!!!!!!!
  • John once ate a hamburger that screamed at him while he ate it.
  • Dave owns a Winnie the Pooh toy with “dried blood around its eyes”; a stuffed badgerconda, which is exactly what it sounds like; and a Mason jar with a clump of cockroaches “arranged roughly in the shape of a human hand” inside of it.
  • I am supposed to just accept all of these things, and I don’t know how to do it.

But this is CHILD’S PLAY for what David Wong creates after the first ten pages. Once Dave and John show up at Shelly’s house, I lose it. I can’t deal with this. I don’t understand anything I’m reading, and I know that’s by design, but this is tormenting me. How can a shark seep out of a basement? HOW CAN A PERSON APPEAR TO LOOK DIFFERENT TO TWO PEOPLE? WHY DID SHELLY BURST INTO SNAKES? WHAT IS SHE? OR IT? WHAT IS THIS CREATURE???? WHY IS THERE SHIT COMING OUT OF THE BASEMENT FLOOR? HOW IS THE HOUSE LAUGHING?

We both knew the drill.

HOW? HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS? WHAT IS GOING ON? YOU STILL HAVEN’T EXPLAINED THIS TO ME, DAVID WONG. For Gandalf’s sake, the characters nap and take a shower while some specter demon wanders this house, and no one thinks this is totally bizarre??? I mean, the characters do poke fun at the trope, but how can they be comfortable doing this? Also, this means that David was being licked by the demon thingy the whole time, not his dog Molly.

And the deer meat that the two found in the freezer in the basement is upstairs, and it has formed into the body of a man, and I am so fucking done with this book, and it’s just barely started. Why does a stereo defeat these things? Why Whitesnake??? I mean, why not, obviously, but why music specifically? Why don’t more heroes use puns in their attacks? Why haven’t I heard the word meatstrocity before this book? Who the fuck is Marconi, and how was he able to defeat the meatstrocity over the phone? Why is this all a journal?

But I’ll repeat the most important question I have here: What the fuck have I gotten myself into?

If you’d like to read along with me, John Dies at the End is on sale at Amazon for the Kindle for $2.99! I get a tiny portion of all sales if you buy through that link. NEAT.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Mark Links Stuff

– I have redesigned! Check out this post explaining the new changes, which includes the start of a permanent archive of all Mark Watches videos!
The Mark Does Stuff Summer Tour is happening soon! Check out the posted dates, suggest new ones, help bring me to YOUR TOWN.
– I have been nominated for a Hugo in the Fan Writer category! If you’d like more information or to direct friends/family to vote for me, I have a very informational post about what I do that you can pass along and link folks to!
- Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is now published and available for purchase! It’s available in ebook AND physical book format, and you can also get a discount for buying the ENTIRE SET of digital books: $25 for 7 BOOKS!!!
- Video commissions are open, and you can commission a Mark Reads/Watches video for just $25!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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