This is one of those rare times where I’m actually going to recommend reading things out of order. I read the sequel (This Book is Full of Spiders) first, and loved it, and just finished reading the first book, which was a bit disappointing. It’s still manic and action-packed and bonkers in a most excellent way, but it also seems a lot more juvenile. I think there was a three- or four-year gap between the two, and maybe the author did a lot of growing up in those few years.
This is the story of how David and John became slacker supernatural investigators, through an otherworldly drug called soy sauce. There’s a ton of stuff going on, and the story goes all over the place. Possession, exploding drug dealers, kidnappy road trips to Vegas, government cover-ups, “six months later” plot devices, several trips to other dimensions, paranormal investigations, sinister creatures, ghosts, and a bit of a love story. And more. The book spans years, and there are quite a few abrupt time jumps. It’s really hard to write plot summaries for these books.
The adventures of David and John are still a fun ride, and it’s cool to see how they got to where they are, but this book just feels a bit unpolished. Most of the other characters are a little flat, especially Jennifer, who is only there to scream and cry and be saved. Amy is a little better, with more spine and personality. But some of it reads like Beavis or Butthead had an older brother with literary aspirations. There is a lot of shit in this book. Like, the word, and the actual stuff. Ghosts and monsters apparently like to trap the boys in basements and then mystically fill those basements with shit. How many times does that need to happen in one story? Also, there’s an entire chapter about David’s penis. So there’s that.
One of my favorite parts of the second book was the argument about what you’d do if the world was actually threatened. David was judged harshly for wanting to save his best friend and his girlfriend when the apocalypse was nigh, rather than trying to figure out a way to save the world. But isn’t that exactly what all of us would do? I think David is a normal guy, and it’s normal to want to help and protect your loved ones. He happens to have some extra abilities that make him a little more helpful in an apocalypse, but does that mean he’s obligated to sacrifice his people? With great power, and all that. But we see the start of those worries here, as he’s making those connections with people in the midst of insanity.
It’s still a fun book, but could have used a few extra years and a good editor. And he got that for book two, so start there!