This Book is Full of Spiders (Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It) continues the story of David Wong, his best friend John Cheese and his girlfriend Amy Sullivan, as they contend with a new set of nefarious beings from other dimensions, only visible to them, after being exposed to a mysterious drug in the first novel in the series, John Dies at the End. This time, their home town of [REDACTED] is being taken over by what appears to be a deadly virus, but only John and David can see the truth.
There is a surprising amount of charm in the bro-centric humor that the book trades in, and does try to subvert. The plot is nothing if not fast-moving, so it’s tough to put down at the end of each chapter. Combined with the heavy dose of humor, there’s a very successful recipe for an engaging read. All that said, the original slow release of John Dies at the End was an Event in my high school writing club. One member brought it in, home bound in a binder, and in very short time we’d all read and adored the extensive internet “novel,” cementing it in my head as a kind of punk masterpiece. So a sequel was doomed from the start to fail at least a little bit. The same hallmarks of the original story are still here, they’re just a touch less exciting since they’re all a bit of a repeat. The narrative turns feel a tad less ingenious, the dumb jokes weren’t quite as funny, the scares weren’t quite as frightening, the looming existential horror didn’t loom as existentially. There just wasn’t quite as much original wit and fun this time. But a JDatE disappointment is still better than most horror/comedy sci-fi in my mind, so this was overall a very good read, if not as much of a great one.