Author David Wong achieved some much deserved success with his debut novel with the memorable name John Dies at the End. Success soon became fame when filmmaker Don Coscarelli (the man behind the Phantasm series) bought the rights to make a movie about the book. While that film has yet to come out in wide release or on disc, and so I sadly have yet to see it, I did read the book it was based on and I loved the quirky, downright bizarre, and often funny as hell story that it had to tell.
This book, with an equally memorable title, not to mention a catchy subtitle of “Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It”, is Wong’s second novel and sequel to John Dies at the End. It is every bit as weird as the first book, surprisingly it’s even funnier but at the same time darker, it’s written in a more traditional narrative style and thus it is easier to follow, and it has more of a connection to the horror genre we love so much. So yeah, it’s pretty much win/win/win/win as far as I’m concerned.
In Spiders, Dave and John, the “heroes” and total screw-ups from the first book, are back and getting in trouble once again. This time they’ve got zombie problems. Well, they’re not really zombies, but they’re close enough. It is up to this pair of oddball buddies to save the day. Mr. Wong takes this opportunity in this book to explore everyone’s obsession with the shuffling flesh eaters and even throws in a bit of history on the ghouls for good measure. All this is done through the shadowy prism of black humor that literally had me laughing out loud, something I rarely do while reading despite the number to times I type LOL in my text messages. More of the plot than that I am loath to give away as it is so fun that it should be experienced firsthand and as spoiler free as possible. So please allow me to speak in some generalities at least about the story, but I will still do my best to highlight just why this book was so darn cool.
This time around Dave’s girlfriend, Amy, gets a bigger role than what she had in the first book and yes, even Molly the dog gets some pages devoted to her side of the story. If that sounds a bit wacky there’s good reason for that; David Wong is actually the pen name of Jason Pargin, editor in chief and often times writer at Cracked.com, one of the few consistently funny sites on the web. “David” may have honed his dark humor on the website, but it has fully been mastered for this book. Also while the characters can be described as odd, they’re more than just a collection of funny clichés. They are not only well written and fully fleshed out, but actually kind of endearing. Dave, John, Amy, and even Molly the dog are characters I actually came to care about and were people I could see myself liking, even as weird as they were. That’s not something I say about many books, even the ones that I like quite a lot.
Yes, This Book is Full of Spiders is far more funny than frightening, so horrorheads looking for a truly chilling novel to keep them up at night may be disappointed with this one. However if you like your fright mixed with the funny than this is the book for you. Horror comedy is a tough combination to get right, so when someone does it so well it should be celebrated. If you like the strange, the satirical, and the silly, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book. Then be prepared to laugh yourself to tears and come celebrate with me a wonderful book that ought not to be missed.
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