Database Part 2

John Dies at the End by David Wong

John Dies at the End (John Dies at the End, #1)  Don’t read this. Don’t get involved.
Sometimes not knowing is easier, while knowing what is out there will put you on a hit list. 

Title: John Dies at the End
Author: David Wong
ISBN: 
031255513X (ISBN13: 9780312555139)

Genre: Horror, Humor, Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Series? Yes; John Dies at the End

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
First Publication Date: Aug. 17th, 2007 (378 pages)

Available Formats on Amazon:

  • e-book $9.99
  • Hardback $27.99
  • Paperback $9.98
  • Audio CD $26.57
  • audiobook available through audible

Why I chose this book: 

I have read David Wong’s Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits book and absolutely loved it. I recommend it to everyone. So, having heard about this one, and somewhat remembering the movie being mentioned when I was in high school, I’ve been meaning to read this one. As I have been in a horror phase, I decided it was time to break down and pick this one up. 

Author Interviews: 

Following the Nerd
Writer’s Beat

Significance:

The writing of this book is quite unique. Even the content and story were very different from what I normally see. Was also made into a movie!

Awards: N/A

Synopsis:
It all started on a regular night – David helping John’s band with their beginning scene at a party. After seeing his crush, Jennifer Lopez (no, not the actress), making out with some dude, David goes home to get a few hours of sleep before work. This is where things get weird. 
John calls David freaking out early in the morning/late at night and once David gets to his apartment, assumes John is high on drugs since he claims to be seeing things that aren’t there. John even admits to taking a drug from the Jamaican musician that was at the party. The drug is called Soy Sauce. David only hopes that the affects will wear off before their shift at their job, but it doesn’t and next thing David knows, they are at the police station giving statements about the party, since people have died. 
David is caught up in a weirdness tornado and even taking Soy Sauce himself doesn’t make anything make sense, instead it only opens up more questions. Who are the shadow people? What do the weird things want with their world? And will they ever live normal lives again? 
Evaluation: 
Loving David Wong’s other book Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits for over a year now raised my expectations of this book, one I have heard many good things about. Unfortunately, this book flopped for me. I could definitely see the appeal for some people, but the comedy portion was not funny to me. 
First off, the main characters are distinct from one another, although the side characters can sometimes run together. This could be because there are so many characters, some are only mentioned in part one or are introduced 2/3s into the book. For me, it was difficult to keep track of. 
The plot is done in an interesting way. There are two parts to this book and the first part truly feels separate from the rest of the book. The first part of the book is the introduction to the world and the characters to Soy Sauce and the mysteries of the world, while the second part is how they live their lives afterwards and more about the dangers of the world. The book could have been split into two different books and have still made sense. What ties them together is that David is telling this all to a reporter. 
The humor of the novel should also be addressed. While there were times the book provoked a single chuckle, most of the time I stared at the pages in confusion wondering if a section was meant to be funny. I have also never read a book that mentioned penises so much, ever. So, although there are times where it feels reading this book requires a certain amount of intelligence or open mind, there are other moments which seem made with 7th grade boys in mind. 
Another thing to note before recommending is the amount of gore and just plain disturbing moments in the book. 
Other Reviews:

Appeals:

 

lowbrow humor, satirical fiction, horror, HP Lovecraft, gruesome, offbeat, book to movie.

“Clues for the Future”

unreliable narrator, David Wong, Molly – dog, Amy – Big Jim’s sis, Undisclosed location, Soy Sauce – drug, penis jokes, 

Rating:

  • Quality: 3.5★
    I think more could have been done to improve it.
  • Popularity: 3★
    This is a book for specific people and not everyone.

Read-alikes

Welcome to Night Vale (Night Vale, #1)HorrorstörRampaging Fuckers of Everything on the Crazy Shitting Planet of the Vomit AtmosphereThe Last Days of Jack Sparks

  • Welcome to Nightvale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor
    Both are quirky with dark humor, giving horror a different spin
  • Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
    Both are “satirical, funny, horror novels” according to Novelist
  • The Rampaging Fuckers of Everything on the Crazy Shitting Planet of the Vomit Atmosphere by Mykle Hansen
    For people who liked the satirical and absurdness of John Dies at the End
  • The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Arnold Arnopp
    Both are horrifying, yet funny satirical fiction with unreliable narrators

 

Booktalking Ideas

One way of going about this booktalk would be to use what the official synopsis has, warning people from reading this book. “Don’t read this book. Even thinking about it, maybe too late for some of you, so forget about it. If you think you are being watched out, it may be time to change your name. If you truly feel compelled to read this story about David and John -fake names-, please just remember, don’t take Soy Sauce, the newest drug, and none of what happens in this book is David’s fault.”

Another way of going about this one is to focus on all of the weird, mentioning the Jamaican magician, a drug named Soy Sauce, Jennifer Lopez (not the actress), Molly, the shadow people, and screaming hamburger patties. 

“And watch out for Molly. See if she does anything unusual. There’s something I don’t trust about the way she exploded and then came back from the dead like that.” 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What did you think? Does this humor speak to you? 
  2. Do you think Molly the dog is the person who drove John and David back from the mall? 
  3. What do you think of the title? Do you think John’s death already happened and he  came back, will it happen in one of the sequels, or is it just a fun name?
  4. Knowing what Soy Sauce does, would you take it? 
  5. What do you think the sequel is about?
Database Part 2

Feed by Mira Grant *Audiobook*

Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy, #1)

In 2014, you can no longer get sick. Unfortunately, everyone is infected with a zombie virus. While that is horrible enough, could there be more?

Title: Feed
Author: Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire)
Narrators: Paula Christensen, Jesse Bernstein
ISBN: 
0316081051 (ISBN13: 9780316081054)

Genre: Horror, Science Fiction-> Dystopia
Series? Yes; Newsflesh Trilogy

Publisher: Orbit
First Publication Date: May 1st 2010 (559 pages)

Available Formats on Amazon:

  • e-book $7.99
  • Paperback $12.66
  • Mass Market Paperback $8.87
  • audiobook available through audible

Why I chose this book: 

Towards the end of October I was in the mood to read some horrors, a genre I lack in. I picked this one because of the way people become zombies. I also listened to the audiobook because the narrator voice wasn’t too bad and I needed something to listen to while cleaning.

Author Interviews:

Orbit Books


Significance:

The way the zombie virus is written is quite interesting, the bloggers being the news is outstanding, I thought, and the ending is very shocking.

Awards:

NPR Top 100 Killer Thrillers (74)
Hugo Nominee (2011.1|Novel, 2011)
Locus Recommended Reading (Science Fiction Novel, 2010)
Shirley Jackson Award Finalist (2010|Novel, 2010)
Goodreads Choice Awards (Science Fiction, 2010)
 

Synopsis:

In 2014 scientists found the cure to the common cold and were fairly certain on the cure to cancer. What seemed like a great step for humankind, ended up failing… greatly. Now the dead are turned into zombies and people can spontaneous turn into zombies if the zombie virus that now lives inside everyone get too high. 

Twenty years after the Rising, many things have changed. There are more precautions regarding the spread of the virus and regular news sources aren’t trusted. Bloggers and siblings Georgina and Shaun have just won the right to follow the story which will launch their careers: following a presidential candidate on the campaign trail. As the first bloggers to do this, it is a huge step for them. 

Along the way, things start going wrong. Zombie outbreaks are happening and endangering them in places that shouldn’t be happening. What starts of as a crazy notion of someone sabotaging the campaign becomes even more sinister as new evidence comes to light. Will Shaun and Georgina get to the heart of the issue or will they die in the process?

Evaluation: 

I have not cried so much while reading a book in years. This book sucks you in, making your pulse race as zombies break through barricades and the mystery slowly enfolds. The writing is so gripping and entertaining, making the book hard to put down. While the pacing is not fast-paced, the action moments bring the reader back into the story. 

I did listen to about the first 30% of the book. There are two narrators, one for each sibling, but since most of the book is told from Georgia’s point of view, most of the book is that narrator. I felt she did a good job voicing Georgia and getting her personality across while making Shaun sounds almost too stereotypically like a surfer dude. I thought Shaun’s narrator was also really good at expressing his character, although I did not hear much from him. 

The story is much more political than the book synopsis may lead one to believe. Besides that surprise, the book had very good flow. Even the politics became interesting. I was more interested in the political campaign in the book than I have ever been in real life. The inclusion of every day problems (abortion, etc.) along with how to deal with zombies was almost surreal. 

The main characters in the book are Georgia and Shaun with Buffy being almost to the main character point. All three were quite different with no chance of being confused. It helps that they all had different types of jobs (Newsie, Irwin, and Fictional). I will say that Shaun’s character seemed to change from the first chapter, slightly, which was weird. Even the side characters were very distinguishable, expect for the security guards who I sometimes got confused with. 

Other Reviews from Amazon

Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Urban fantasist Seanan McGuire (Rosemary and Rue) picks up a new pen name for this gripping, thrilling, and brutal depiction of a postapocalyptic 2039. Twin bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason and their colleague Buffy are thrilled when Sen. Peter Ryman, the first presidential candidate to come of age since social media saved the world from a virus that reanimates the dead, invites them to cover his campaign. Then an event is attacked by zombies, and Ryman’s daughter is killed. As the bloggers wield the newfound power of new media, they tangle with the CDC, a scheming vice presidential candidate, and mysterious conspirators who want more than the Oval Office. Shunning misogynistic horror tropes in favor of genuine drama and pure creepiness, McGuire has crafted a masterpiece of suspense with engaging, appealing characters who conduct a soul-shredding examination of what’s true and what’s reported.

Bookmarks Magazine:While the past few years have seen no shortage of new takes on the zombie genre, critics thought that Feed broke away from the shuffling horde. They appreciated the care Grant took in building a detailed world, noting how she infused originality into genre elements like the vaccine gone bad. Some reviewers criticized this extensive exposition, and while none of them were ever bored by the world Grant describes, they questioned whether it was realistic for her characters to have such excellent recall of the apocalypse. Nevertheless, critics recommended Feed as a title that should entertain even those who are not normally fans of the SF or horror genre. Stay tuned for the second in the Newsflesh series, Blackout.

Appeals:

 

Zombies, bloggers, campaign, conspiracy, action-paced, fast-paced, suspenseful

This is a great book for people trying wanting to dive into a complex and suspenseful read.

“Clues for the Future”

Zombies, bloggers on the road, different times of bloggers, conspiracy, 

Rating:

  • Quality: 4★
    Sometimes the political aspect of the book did seem to overpower the horror of the book.
  • Popularity: 4★
    People may not know of this book, but I think I could push this one easily

Read-alikes

Reviver (Reviver Trilogy, #1)Nexus (Nexus, #1)The UninvitedMidnight Movie

  • Reviver by Seth Patrick
    These books are fast-paced horrors also feature conspiracies.
  • Nexus by Ramez Naam
    These novels are thought-provoking and action-packed about how society reacts to society changing technology. 
  • The Uninvited by Cat Winters
    Young protagonists must risk everything in these novels involving conspiracies
  • Midnight Movie by Tobe Hooper
    Both novels involve fast-paced and violent zombie stories with new media being used to tell the story. 

Booktalking Ideas: 

 

The setting is very important in these books. Describing the world and the creepy atmosphere could draw people in. 

Another aspect I would want to highlight would be the characters because Georgina and Shaun are both quite cool in their own ways. Talking about how these siblings get along, yet are so different may help people connect to the characters. 

I also really love the beginning of the book and think it can pull an audience in, so I might also read that:

“Our story opens where countless stories have ended in the last twenty-six years: with an idiot — in this case, my brother, Shaun — deciding it would be a good idea to go out and poke a zombie with a stick to see what happens.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. If you were running a blog as your job in this world, would you be a Newsie, Irwin, Fictional, or Steward? 
  2. While the book didn’t feature romance, the topic of love and relationships came up often around Georgia and Shaun, since they never had romantic relationships. Do you think this was a weird inclusion to continue mentioning by the author? Do you think their sibling relationship replaced the need for a romantic one? Or something else? 
  3. What are your thoughts on Buffy — what she did, her character, and her end?
  4. What are your thoughts on the end of the book? Did you see it coming? 
  5. With how things ended, Shaun will now be the main character. What do you think will happen next? Will you continue reading? Moving from a Newsie POV to a Irwin/Admin POV, do you think this will change the narration? 
Database Part 1

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin (1972 )

The Stepford WivesThere is something wrong with the women in Stepford, Bobbie & Joanna don’t know the cause, but can they escape before they change too? 

Title: The Stepford Wives
Author: Ira Levin
ISBN: 0060080841 (ISBN13: 9780060080846)

Genre: Thriller
Series? No

Publisher: Perennial
First Publication Date:  September 1972 (144 pages)

Available Formats on Amazon:

  • e-book $8.99
  • Hardcover $2.99
  • Paperback $10.55

Why I chose this book: 

It was the start of October and I wanted to read something quick, but deserving of the month. I picked this book because I have heard good things about it and I know it was made into a movie.

Author Interviews: 

Oral History Memoir

Significance:

Was made into two movies, once in 1975 and again in 2004.
It has a satirical message about sexism.

Synopsis:

Joanna and her husband, Walter, and two children move into the suburbs from the city, looking for a change of pace. Joanna is having a hard time fitting in and making friends with all the women being too busy with housework and child raising to have hobbies or relax at a cafe. Joanna does finally find a pair of friends, Bobbie and Claire, the most normal women in town. Although they fail to create a women’s organization to rival, the men’s organization, they are still trying to rally the women to join and be more!

Joanna and Bobbie’s uncertainty and fear rise when Claire suddenly becomes to busy to hang out because of all the housework that needs to be done and even has her tennis court removed. Bobbie expects something is in the air or water and is determined to move as soon as possible, while Joanna is still hesitant to truly say anything is wrong.

But, even Joanna cannot fight off her suspicions for lone, especially when she has done more research in the town’s library.

What has happened to the women of Stepford and will Joanna escape in time?

Evaluation: 

This book made my skin crawl.

I was skeptical when I started it because it is quite a short book, but this author knows how to pack the book with everything it needs to tell the story correctly and grip the reader. Since I already had an idea of the town’s secret (it can’t be called spoiling if the book is over 30 years old) I was not too shocked by all the turns of events, even more so when I read the forward of the book, but there were still many things to made my jaw drop. I will confess to wandering around my home in thought for over 10 minutes, just thinking about what I had read.

Even though the book is over 40 years old, I feel the content is still relevant to the problems of today. While reading the book, I did not know how old the book was (although Women’s Liberation Movement should have clued me in), but it still felt modern and probable in our day, especially since there are female robots in Japan.

My one criticism for the book is the formatting of it, and I’m not even sure if it is just an e-book thing or if it is the same in the physical copies. I would have liked a more substantial break between scene or day changes because one paragraph takes place during at night and the next might paragraph might be Joanna talking to Bobbie at a cafe! It could be jarring at times. I’m not asking for more chapters, but an extra space or a line between paragraphs taking place in different scenes would be helpful.

Other Reviews:

(From Novelist) The Stepford wives  — Stepford  is a small exurban community — are contentedly submissive in bed and happy all the livelong day dusting and waxing and washing. Like commercials. . .or robots. They haven’t even time for that Maxwell House coffee break when they come to call on someone new in town. Say Joanna Eberhart. Joanna wonders about their very active Men’s Association while the Women’s Club was disbanded. In fact only two other women, also relatively recent, seem to be immune to the Stepford  hausfrau ethos — Charmaine who finds time to play tennis until she goes away for a weekend with her husband and comes back ready to be squeezed; then Bobbie, who like Joanna, had planned to move away until she settles into the routine of a vacuum and the hot breakfast. It’s not long before Joanna begins to suspect some sort of operant conditioning or perhaps worse? This is only half as long as Rosemary’s baby, about a quarter as developed or detailed, but it’s fully two thirds as original and you’ll really begin to sit up and breathe in by the finale. Whether you read it as a fable of male bonding or of female bondage, you’ll read it and so will a great many others. The eye will never be distracted from the page even if your Bendix is walking right out of the cellar. Literary Guild Dual Selection. (Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 1972)

The New York Times

Appeal: 

suspenseful; fast-paced; compelling; suburban life; books to movies

This is for people who want a little suspense in their life or want a quick book to read. Another interest may be in reading a book that has become a movie in order to compare the two.

“Clues for the Future”

Joanna (MC), Bobbie (friend), Claire (older friend with tennis court), robot wives, 4 month intervals

Rating:

  • Quality: 4★
    A few moments I thought could have been improved
  • Popularity: 5★
    Turned into a movie twice and has many different editions out. Have become a pop culture reference

Readalikes: 

Invasion of the Body SnatchersThe AssociationWomanThe Victorian Chaise Longue

  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney
    Atmospheric and fast-paced, this book also contains humans being replaced.
  • The Association by Bentley Little
    These books both take place in normal or ideal suburbs only to not be, and horror is derived from the need to conform or be punished.
  • Woman by Richard Matheson
    Another fast-paced horror novel also revolving around gender roles.
  • The Victorian Chaise Longue by Marghanita Laski
    A short paged horror novel dealing with gender roles where the main character experiences doubt and feeling trapped.

Book Talk Ideas: 

I would focus this one on the setting, describing the ideal suburban atmosphere and the husbands and their housewives, and the picket fence included. Then really detail the housewives, to start creating an eerie feeling about the situation.

I would grab a quote from Claire about how much she loves playing tennis, then after announcing that she was cleaning more, I’d read the passage of the tennis court being removed for the husband’s putting green.

It may be fun to mention also how secrets of the town lay in the library and how it will change the way Joanna sees the town. Ending the talk with, is she paranoid, or is something happening to the women?

Discussion Questions:

  1. It was Walter’s idea to leave the city and he also joined the Men’s Association freely. Do you think Walter knew about the robots before they moved there? Do you think because he was a lawyer he was invited? Or do you think he was pushed into it?
  2. The only ‘normal’ women left in town are older women. Why do you think they were left alone?
  3. Why do you think the men had robot-Bobbie kill Joanna instead of just killing her themselves?
  4. This book is toted as a satire about gender roles and stereotypes. Do you think it is funny? Do you think there is a message to the book?
  5. This book was written in 1975 when robots were not as advanced as they are now. Do you think that the more realistic robots will pose a threat to relationships and marriages?
  6. If the idealistic woman is big breasted, stay at home mom, and full time maid and cook, what does the idealistic man look like?