It’s rare to read a book that’s simultaneously horrifying and hilarious. This Book is Full of Spiders is such a book. Written by Jason Pargin under the pseudonym of David Wong, this story is the sequel to the acclaimed novel John Dies at the End (check out Starshine’s review of the movie). This story is unlike any other, and that’s perhaps why it’s one of the best books I’ve read over the past year.
This Book is Full of Spiders is narrated by David Wong, a twenty-something Midwestern slacker from the town of Undisclosed; obviously, this isn’t the town’s actual name, but the character doesn’t want the reader to know where he lives since it’s a terrible place. Ever since taking a strange drug known as Soy Sauce, David and his best friend, John, possess the ability to perceive supernatural beings and events. One day, David encounters a strange spider in his room whose existence eventually leads to a widespread outbreak of the monsters, leading the government to quaratine the town. Through it all, David, John, his girlfriend Amy, and their dog Molly have to navigate groups of soldiers, infected citizens, and zombie enthusiasts looking for a chance to make themselves feel like heroes. Everything culminates in a mad dash against the clock as our heroes try to save their town, and perhaps all of the world, from certain annihilation.
The great thing about This Book is Full of Spiders is that the story blends humor and the macabre in a way rarely seen in any media. One moment, you’ll be nervous, reading about spiders that can burrow inside someone’s body and control their every action. The next, you’ll be chuckling at a particularly immature fart joke. Despite this dichotomy, the novel never veers to far in any one direction, and manages to stay on course. The characters are well-written, feeling like actual people based on their characterization, dialogue, and the actions each one takes.
The story also excels at bringing disparate plot threads together. Actions from early in the book always pay off later and, while not every question is answered, we’re given enough to feel satisfied upon reaching the conclusion. One might not expect it from this sort of book, but there are a number of moving and touching moments (especially towards the end). Another positive aspect of the book is that it is easy to read and follow without reading John Dies at the End, though of course reading the prequel will increase your enjoyment of the story.
Of course, This Book is Full of Spiders isn’t perfect. I felt that the beginning was slow, but once I reached page 100 things started to pick up quite a bit. Also, at times the writing can feel disjointed, though these moments are rare. Some parts of the story also feel as if they don’t fit together perfectly, but Pargin manages to bring everything together in the end, making the reader’s patience pay off and confusion clear up.
Overall, I highly recommend This Book is Full of Spiders. It isn’t a perfect book, but it’s definitely a great read and is unlike the majority of what you’ll find on the market. You won’t know what to expect as you turn each page, but that’s perhaps one of the most enjoyable parts of the story. I suggest everyone pick up this book!
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