‘This Book is Full of Spiders’ also full of laughter, terror
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 13:10
Spiders may be the scariest arachnids around, and they play on the primal fears that nearly all humans face.
“You may have a huge, invisible spider living in your skull. This is not a metaphor,” warns David Wong in his new book, “This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It.” The novel balances clever humor with spine-chilling horror and never lets up on suspense.
Wong’s real name is Jason Pargin, and he is the senior editor of the humor website cracked.com. Readers familiar with the site will enjoy Wong’s occasional references to popular articles.
“This Book is Full of Spiders” is the sequel to “John Dies at the End.” While the first installment does explain the setting and characters, reading it isn’t necessary to enjoy the second book.
The protagonist, David Wong, with his best friend John and girlfriend Amy, attempts to save the world from parasitic brain-eating spiders and fail spectacularly at it.
Now the trio must fight to stay alive in a world on the brink of apocalypse and keep spiders from crawling down their throats.
The novel is written as if it were a telling of real-life events, as evidenced by the protagonist having the same name as the author.
This makes the novel’s events more personal, enhancing sympathy for the characters and the reader’s feelings of urgency.
Most of the story is told by David, but a few sections are narrated by John and fewer by Amy. David’s narration is familiar to fans of “John Dies at the End.” He is sarcastic, jaded and can crack a joke in just about any situation he gets himself into.
John’s sections contain the expected antics of a narrator who is drunk for half the novel. He is an appealing character despite being lazy, snarky and generally unlikeable. These qualities only manage to make his narration more amusing.
Amy’s sections, however, are less compelling. Her narration establishes her as more responsible and reasonable than her companions but lacks the clever and dirty humor David and John provide. As a result, her sections are dull and lifeless in comparison.
The novel illustrates the world’s fall into utter lunacy as confusion and fear reign supreme. With television so dominated by post-apocalyptic shows, “Spiders” is a welcome and unique twist on a commonly used scenario.
Fans of “John Dies at the End” will have greater appreciation for the panic the apocalypse brings, as they know David and John as the bumbling and immature morons they are, and they’re taking the situation seriously.
The book manages to do what so few novels accomplish – it combines two genres into one balanced masterpiece and does so with two very different fields. The contrast of humor and horror increases the reader’s terror without diminishing the humor.
The chapter titles are structured as a countdown to an event, such as “48 Hours Prior to Outbreak” and “8 Days 12 Hours Until the Massacre at Ffirth Asylum.”
Titling chapters this way builds tension and encourages continued reading to find out just what the “massacre” is.
Some readers will be put off by the frequently risque humor and vulgar language, but if given a chance, the filthy jokes are extremely entertaining.
The book’s only imperfection is Amy’s occasionally tedious narration. The writing style is very casual, mainly because it is meant to be an account by David as he experiences the apocalypse, and the frequently ignored grammar rules can grate on the reader.
The fear “Spiders” provokes plays on primal terrors every human has, such as the dark, the unknown, feelings of helplessness – and of course – spiders.