The Nerd and Co welcomes you to its first, of hopefully many, literary reviews for those of you who prefer the musty smell of dust on books. This isn’t just to glorify the greats. If you want someone to give J.K. Rowling, Tolkein, or George R.R. Martin an ego boost, look somewhere else, literally anywhere else. Instead, I want this to be a place for both the new and upcoming authors who could use a little push, as well as those who have a small inner circle of fame but who deserve praise for some of their contemporary masterpieces.
For my first recommendation, I’d like to introduce you all to David Wong. Some of you might be familiar with his work, and if you are, I’m sure you will agree that he deserves this spotlight. David Wong is really a pen name for writer Jason Pargin (hopefully he doesn’t mind me spreading the news) who is a writer for Cracked.com, and who began his career as a novelist by writing webserials that would eventually be collected and published as his first novel, John Dies at the End.
Pargin is an inspiration to the everyday writer who aspires to be, and do, more. He’s dealt with countless rejection from common known publishers and persevered by sticking to his guns and finding a good home for his work. His writing doesn’t abide by any linear human rules and instead maintains a conscientious “I’ll do whatever the hell I want” attitude that comes across as part-experimental and part-genius. Gaining notice and a little bit of notoriety in the realms of horror and science fiction, he would go on to write two more in the John Dies at the End series, entitled This Book is Full of Spiders and What the Hell Did I Just Read? Both of which maintained predominantly positive reviews from fans and critics alike. Shortly after, he released his science-fiction Zoey Ashe series, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits as well as its sequel Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick. Catchy titles, am I right?
So why’s this guy worth your time? Because he’s going to offer you something most authors can’t. He’s going to frustrate the ever living s*** out of you. Trust me. Trust me, that’s a good thing. Because two dimensional characters in a three dimensional setting can get kind of tedious Pargin writes in a style that is hardly recognizable, and rather than cough up an answer to some of the questions you might have, he makes you work for it as his heroes stumble from one chaotic catastrophe to another. More importantly, there’s never a dull moment, especially with his notorious habit of leaving cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. His heroes are never truly who you expect. No shy, clumsy love struck fool or some typical badass good with a bow and arrow. No, we get the local outcast, pumped with anxiety, adderall, and bad acne, or the overweight down on her luck barista who just wants to stay at home with her cat. This mixed bag of characters come face to face with lovecraftian terrors and cybernetic super-powered serial killers.
Pargin’s success leaked into Hollywood as his first novel was offered a movie deal. That’s right, John Dies at the End became a movie released back in 2012. Unfortunately, the film lacked the novel’s depth, interstellar plot, and overlooked the entire purpose of the story by trying to get in some cheap laughs and parlor tricks. A cautionary tale for any new writer being offered a tempting movie deal. The money might look good, but is the sacrifice ever truly worth it? I recommend skipping the film and picking up the novel. Then again, I’m a writer so I might be a little biased here.
Again, if you’re fixing for a little strange and unusual (I’m looking at you Lydia Deetz), be sure to pick up a copy of John Dies at the End, or if sci-fi is more of your thing, check out Futuristic Violence, and Fancy Suits. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.