I previously read John Dies at the End by David Wong about two years ago, and just now remembered that there was a sequel to it after my friend mentioned that I could borrow her copy should it ever be returned to her from a previous reader… I myself ended up checking this book out of the library not a single day before my friend got her own copy handed back to her literally right in front of my own two eyes. Isn’t that coincidental… or is it??
This Book is Full of Spiders begins a while after the events of the previous novel, with our slackish and somewhat selfish but generally good-hearted friends David and John, while David’s girlfriend Amy is away at college. For the most part they live their lives normally, except for the fact that the effects of the “soy sauce” drug taken in the previous novel have lingered, most prolifically in the form of them being able to see dangers and creatures that most people cannot. And so they deal with things as they come. That is, until an outbreak of spider-like creatures that only these two can see occurs, taking over people’s bodies without anyone realizing until the person becomes extremely violent. This creates a zombie-panic in the small town where David and John live, including interception by a government agency that wants to quarantine the area. Except nothing is ever so simple with these boys at the reigns, as their plans never go as intended, yet the only hope for saving the town may lie in David, John, and Amy’s hands. The story is mostly told from David’s point of view, though it does switch between Amy, John, and even their dog Molly at times, in order to tell the whole tale at moments of separation. This is a little disjointed at times in connecting the dots of what occurred concurrently between them and how they piece together, though for the most part this is done effectively.
What I enjoyed about John Dies at the End is just how wacky the setup and universe created is: there are no coincidences, or if there are, it’s just to reflect on the absurdity of it all. Because of the loose logic of everything presented, nothing is truly out of place and anything can happen while still somehow tying back to the main story. And here in This Book is Full of Spiders, we find the same thing, except maybe a little more focused this time in terms of not diverging too far from the main plot at any given time. The jokes still fly at you in a rapid fire manner, but it feels like there is more digging into morality and humanity in this one (at least, as far as I can remember, it’s been a while since I read the first novel after all): it feels like a whole lot of trolley problems being worked out, which in some ways get a little tiring by the end, but overall I think the added focus made this second novel in the series feel significantly more coherent, while still not shying away from craziness when needed. Yet, the one negative that sticks out for me in terms of this crazy and “anything can happen” mood is that you get so used to accepting the absurdity, bizarre logic, and coincidences (which do often happen in a lot of other stories too, don’t get me wrong) is that you also have to accept any deus ex machina-type resolutions and wrapups of the story. I’m not saying it’s bad but sometimes things do seem a little… convenient, at the very end?
In any case, I did really enjoy This Book is Full of Spiders, just like I enjoyed the previous novel in the series: it is silly and has fun (if somewhat groan-inducing) characters, who I’m pretty sure I know a couple of real-life versions of.
CBR10 Bingo Square: Brain Candy