This Book is Full of Spiders is David Wong’s pseudo-sequel to John Dies at the End. Unlike the latter book, Spiders has a much tighter narrative and is darker overall, though the irreverence, drunkenness and general ineptitude of the main characters carry over from the first volume.
The title is also accurate. Arachnophobes will be left squirming uncomfortably at the giant piles of spiders that lead to a kind of zombie apocalypse in Wong’s hometown of [Undisclosed].
What I like most is the way Wong balances the disparate elements and makes them all work. The protagonist is flippant, his best friend ridiculous, yet you are made to care about them. There are scenes that are both horrifying and moving. There are photos of John’s penis. Repeatedly.
Wong writes dialogue that is both direct and believable, even when (or especially when) people are discussing things that are outrageous or terrible. The only lapses are minor ones–he relies a bit too much on happenstance and coincidence to move the story along at certain points, but never to the point where it seriously detracts. Likewise, the conceit of never naming the town–in order to keep people from going there and having bad things happen to them because the place is so screwed up–falls apart after he describes the town being a headline all over the world after it is placed under quarantine. That and a video shot there gets 18 million hits on YouTube. Not so much [Undisclosed] anymore.
Overall, though, This Book is Full of Spiders builds nicely on the groundwork laid in John Dies at the End and is–dare I say it–a more mature book. Plus, how can you resist a story where the author describes his hair as looking combed by an angry cat?