In 2009, the editor of popular humor/news/oddities website Cracked.com, David Wong, published a hodgepodge of zany supernatural misadventures in the form of John Dies at the End, which started as a serialized internet phenomenon and turned into a long, uneven, but ultimately hilarious and entertaining novel.
Enter the sequel: This Book Is Full of Spiders (Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It). And, unlike, the misleading title of the first book, I can assure you that, yes, this book is filled with spiders.
Dave and John, the supernatural-fighting, dimension-hopping, dick-joking duo, once again find themselves at the center of an otherworldly mystery when Dave experiences all of our own worst nightmares come to life: there is a nest of parasitic spiders that hatches from his bed, invisible to all but him and his buddy John. What do these spiders do? Well, I’m glad you asked. They inject you with a paralytic venom before climbing in your mouth, controlling your brain, and restructuring your DNA.
Since no one else can see the spiders, the people of John and Dave’s hometown, referred to as Undisclosed (for security reasons), decide it has been overrun by zombies. What follows, while still retaining the absurdist charm of the original, is a surprisingly realistic and even chilling look at how the government might deal with a zombie outbreak. A mysterious government agency shows up, blocks off the town, quarantines a bunch of non-infected people, and plans to wipe it off the face of the map.
Any potential realism ends there, as we get knee-deep in spider parasites, monsters that climb up your butthole (and push your intestines out your mouth, yummy!), guns that warp reality, drugs that stop time, and shadow people who exist in the space between moments.
The narrative here is far more coherent than John Dies at the End, and while it’s a sizable novel, it clips along at a fast pace, making it easy to breeze through in a couple of days. Whereas JDatE may leave you wanting less, Spiders actually left me wanting more. Because of the singular focus of the plot, I found myself missing the wild diversity of bizarre adventures from the first book. Still, Spiders does, in the end, work much better as a cohesive novel, and provides a more streamlined story while still being as gross, gory, and funny as you’d hope.
Plus, there’s a fantastic moment when a bunch of townspeople, in order to be seen from the air, shape themselves into a giant… well, I’ll just let you read the book to find out.