For all the enjoyment I got out of John Dies at the End, I couldn't shake the feeling that it didn't work as a novel. There were three very different episodes held together by a reporter framing device and the presence of a mysterious drug with inter-dimensional properties. It was funny, but the novel killed its momentum each time the story shifted to something completely different. I am happy to report that This Book is Full of Spiders, David Wong's sequel to John Dies at the End, is unquestionably a novel. The clear three act structure exists, but it actually serves the telling of a single story. It's funny, disturbing, and clever without any cohesion problems.
David and John have gone on many adventures in [Undisclosed] since their first run in with Soy Sauce. Surprisingly, it was calm, rational David that wound up in a courtroom after shooting a pizza delivery boy in the chest with a crossbow. Now he has to attend sessions with a court appointed psychiatrist who knows how to push his buttons. David would be able to put everything behind him in a few months if he didn't get attacked by a demon parasite spider from another dimension in his bedroom. Now he has the police, the government, his girlfriend Amy, and a previously unknown secret agency called REPER swooping down on [Undisclosed] to prevent him from destroying the world thanks to a menace only he and John can see.
This Book is Full of Spiders is wild. David Wong pulled no punches crafting this story. I mean, the spiders burrow into the human brain through the mouth and rewire the human body into a deadly creature with any number of inhuman features: wings, exploding eyeballs, claws, and the ability to keep on trucking when a giant gaping hole is shot through the body. Wong plays with paranoia, media sensationalism, sanity, and every single rule established in the last book about [Undisclosed].
The sequel is also a far more emotional read. The people who die are mostly established as real characters first. Tragedy comes out of panic and the secrecy of [Undisclosed] prevents the outside world from learning the truth. Everything could have been avoided if people in the town just learned to trust each other. Instead, they'd rather stand their ground and gun down their fellow citizens than risk finding out that there are real monsters in the world.
This Book is Full of Spiders is a masterful horror/comedy novel. It is packed with action, gore, psychology, and slapstick. It's a risky blend that pays off big dividends again and again.
This review is part of the Cannonball Read 4 series. You should check out some great book reviews for charity. Go on now. Don't dawdle.