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Avery Monsen and Jory John: All My Friends Are Dead

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All My Friends Are Dead

Fiction by Avery Monsen and Jory John

Chronicle Books, hardcover

It’s such a letdown to encounter a piece of art that’s just not what it could be. It has a new idea, a sturdy execution, and some surprisingly sweet moments, but its few slip-ups prevent a wholly enjoyable experience. And there sits All My Friends Are Dead. The cover is a drawing of an awkward, wide-eyed dinosaur paired with text reading, “All my friends are dead.” This is the book: a cute cartoony being and its “existential predicament.” There’s a sock who’s lost his match, a gallon of milk whose friends have gone sour, a mix-tape whose comrades are obsolete.

This could have been a great little book. The drawings are weirdly adorable, the text is silly but not stupid, and, as a whole, it manages to be poignant without being serious. Problem is, writers Avery Monsen and Jory John try just the tiniest bit too hard, pushing ever so slightly too much and adding a bit of extra junk that clouds their wonderful, clean idea. They’re clearly talented and witty, but sometimes they fall victim to that so-awkward-it’s-cute high school humor that plagues too much indie art today. It’s like taking a great vintage sweater and sewing “I Love Vintage” patches to it: You should’ve just let it be. We would’ve gotten the picture.

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