David Wong’s debut novel, the slackers vs. Lovecraftian horror novel John Dies At The End, was one of the more pleasant surprises I’ve encountered in my genre reading. And the good news is that its sequel, This Book Is Full of Spiders – Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It offers not just the solid combination of horror and humor that Wong used so well, but a much stronger narrative as well.
It’s some time after the events of John Dies, and David and his friend John are still living in the town of Undisclosed, a hellmouth kind of place where bad things happen a lot. David is still dating Amy, and John is still drinking a lot and texting people pictures of his penis. The good news is that David and John, thanks to their earlier adventures, can see the supernatural beings that cause shit to go down in Undisclosed. The bad news is that this time around, the beings include freaky spider creatures that crawl into one’s mouth to take over your mind and do terrible things to your body.
Soon the town of Undisclosed is under quarantine, with David on one side of the barriers and Amy and John on the other. Complicating things are rumors that the spider infestation is actually a zombie plague, a crowd of zombie aficionados who want to quell the plague, an asshole cop, an evil psychiatrist, and David and John’s (particularly John’s) penchant for saving the day/fucking things up.
Wong deftly juggles the humor and the horror; although this book is more serious than its predecessor, there are still plenty of laughs, all the more effective because they come at the most unexpected times. He doesn’t skimp on the horror end of things, offering up some nasty situations and some truly creepy imagery (an 8-foot-diameter daddy longlegs with a human face is perhaps the most memorable). There’s also some nifty scenes involving what it would be like to be outside of time, and a great “dog’s eye” point of view.
Not everything works. There’s a slow patch in the middle as David tries to figure out what’s going on and Amy and John try to figure out how to rescue David, and Wong plays with the narrative timeline a few times too often, which becomes irritating. But those bits aside, it’s a fun, fresh take on horror with a few nifty jabs at our zombie-obsessed culture thrown in. Genre fans should definitely seek it out, and be prepared to be creeped out, grossed out, and laugh out loud.