Warning: You may have a huge, invisible spider living in your skull. This is not a metaphor. You will dismiss this as ridiculous fearmongering. Dismissing things as ridiculous fearmongering is, in fact, the first symptom of parasitic spider infection - the creature secretes a chemical into the brain to stimulate skepticism, in order to prevent you from seeking a cure. That’s just as well, since the “cure” involves learning what a chain saw tastes like. You can’t feel the spider, because it controls your nerve endings. You can’t see it, because it decides what you see. You won’t even feel it when it breeds. And it will breed. So what happens when your family, friends, and neighbors get mind-controlling skull spiders? We’re all about to find out. Just stay calm, and remember that telling you about the spider situation is not the same as having caused it. I’m just the messenger. Even if I did sort of cause it. Either way, I won’t hold it against you if you’re upset. I know that’s just the spider talking.
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If you’re not familiar with David Wong (AKA Jason Pargin), he writes for the stupid-yet-brilliant website Cracked, which deconstructs movie plots, videogames, and commonly-held beliefs with ironic, profanity-laced Gen-Y snark. For better or worse, that’s pretty much what his novels are, too -- a marriage of the Evil Dead trilogy and witty commentary on different subjects.
This Book is Full of Spiders isn't quite as off-the-wall entertaining as its predecessor, but it's still a fun read, and mixes some maturity in with its signature goofball humor.
The plot riffs on standard horror movie tropes, in this case about evil spiders that invade their victims, turning them into flesh-eating monsters. Quickly, the government sets up a quarantine, trapping David on one side while the impulsive dumbass John and David's nerdily sweet, resourceful girlfriend Amy must find their way through the cordon of special agents, paranoid townspeople, and disgusting creatures. There are also appearances by a badass detective, a psychiatrist who’s a bit too rational, the sagely occult expert, Doctor Marconi, and David’s not-too-bright-but-faithful-in-her-own-way dog, Molly.
Wong's treatment of familiar conventions is clever, and raises the question of whether the zombies would really be the worst thing about a zombie outbreak. Perhaps the worst thing, Wong suggests, would actually be an outbreak of human nature, in the form of trigger-happy vigilantes and survivalists, zombie-movie-crazed man-children with hero fantasies, the internet, and good-hearted people trying to save their friends. The “villains” might simply be the people acting rationally. Definitely one of the more self-aware, ironic horror stories ever.
Unfortunately, the book is weaker in other departments. The narrative is often thin and jumpy, as though Wong is writing from a storyboard in his head, but neglecting to show clearly how events got from state A to state B. Readers who have seen their share of B-movies will probably picture where he’s going with it, everyone else will be confused. Of course, the first book probably filtered out most of the latter group. The ending, disappointingly, leaves loose ends dangling.
Still, I enjoyed this one nearly as much as John Dies at the End. We get to know the three lovable losers, David, John, and Amy (with Amy being the least loserly) better as characters, and their thought processes made me smile. Perhaps it helped that audiobook narrator Nick Podehl gave them each a bit of personality of his own.
My title is really how I feel: If you read the summary or looked at the cover and thought, "I might like this," then go ahead and buy it. You will NOT regret it. Now, it is just as strange as it sounds, but it is also extremely entertaining. I jumped at the opportunity to listen to this book because I enjoyed John Dies at the End (paper, audio, and movie). As always in cases like this, I feared disappointment, but Wong's second book is even stronger than John because it is more tightly plotted. While I would have been hesitant to recommend John to just anyone, this book is more traditional without losing any of the edge or insanity that made John so fun. I was also concerned that the narrator had changed, but Nick Pedehl does an outstanding job, and I really could not choose which narrator I prefer.
If you like crazy fun, comedy, random insanity, or just hate spiders, I highly recommend this book to you.