This Book is Full of Spiders: Why I Can’t Sleep Anymore
Imagine laying in bed at night. It’s been a long, hard day at work and all you want to do is drown out the day and drift off into a blissful sleep. You begin to doze, darkness flowing over you to take your brain to dream land. Pain…a sharp pain on your foot. You throw off the covers in an attempt to see what is causing you this uninvited discomfort. You immediately regret your decision. A black mass of flailing limbs and teeth is attaching itself to your leg. Everyone’s worst nightmare. Shitty part is…you’re awake.
On the first few pages of the recent release by David Wong, you are introduced and reintroduced to your nightmares. Everyone has an irrational fear of the dark, and of the creatures that reside in it. Now folks, I know what you’re thinking.
“Oh Arthur, but you’re so big and strong! How can you be afraid of anything? Let alone itty bitty spiders?”
First of all, you’re wrong. I am afraid of some things. For example, the way certain actresses look like they smell. I won’t say who, but we’ll say her and Woody Harrelson had a short lived murder spree a while ago. Fictional of course. Second, I don’t mess around with anything with more than 4 legs. It is a rule I live by and it keeps me alive. Finding one in my bed at night when I feel most vulnerable is something I would prefer to avoid. If you come anywhere near me with a centipede, I swear to Odin I will revoke whatever relationship we have. That being said, onto the review.
David Wong has provided us once again with a piece of literature that blends the line between horror, comedy, and total shitshow. Following up John Dies at the End, David has delved back into the world of our titular heroes who would prefer to just play games and get drunk. However, much like in JDATE, they just aren’t given the opportunity. Thrust into a situation that literally, none of us would want to deal with, they are forced to put mind and matter together in order to save their hides, and if time allows, the world. The spiders are coming, and they want to fuck your face.
The story revolves around David and John battling an epidemic of body snatching spiders with waaaay too many legs. Burrowing into your brain and infecting you like a parasite, the spiders are cause for much concern. There is no solid way of knowing who is infected (except John and Dave), the spiders keep you normal until they decide to fully take over. And that is when it gets horrifying. Twisting and distorting your body into a mess of razor sharp bone and broken limbs, the infection turns whoever is taken over into a monstrosity of your worst fears. Almost like the necromorphs in Dead Space, however I find them scarier due to the fact that you don’t know who is actually infected. Things spiral out of control and as you can imagine, the whole place gets infected and its up to Dave and John to stop it.
I loved John Dies at the End, so I had relatively high expectations for the follow up. I can firmly say that I was not disappointed. David has crafted a sense of dread and uneasiness that is absorbing as it is mortifying. You feel for the characters as they try their best to get out of a situation that they do not want to be involved in (except John, he seems to revel in these situations). A few of the characters return from the first novel as they are mostly entangled in Dave and John’s lives, for better or for worse(Marconi, you sir, are just a treat), and some fresh faces all lend a hand in driving the narrative. To be honest, I didn’t really become attached to the new guys as I was to the returning characters. I am not sure if it was just their relative lack of “screen” time, or the fact that with the exception of Dave’s psychiatrist, and Freddy(you poor bastard), it seems like they were added just to fill a roster. Much like in any horror movie where characters are inserted just to be added to the body count later. Not a bad thing really, it just makes it hard to invest in them if you know they won’t be around too long. A character introduced late into the game though was actually rather compelling. I won’t spoil it, but I hope by some chance he appears in later stories.
The core story itself was well written and engaging. Going from horror one second, to comedy the next, you are never really left wanting for entertainment. Not cut into general chapters, it reads the way a movie plays in terms of it feeling more like scenes rather than chapters. The transitions themselves being titled as a sort of countdown to the next fucked up part, really add a sense of dread and tension, making you want to read faster and slower at the same time. Slowing down really only delays the inevitable. You’re going to see something fucked up, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It really is rather horrifying knowing something terrible is going to happen, but not knowing exactly what it is. You keep trying to guess, and all it does is make you realize that you are capable of coming up with some really fucked up situations in your own head. It’s okay though, I forgive you. I came up with my own theory as to what was going to happen, and let me tell you, I created some really shitty events. However, mine did not compare to what actually happens. Trust me, you’ll learn to sympathize with Storm (Yay obscure X-Men reference!) after you get to it.
The pace of the book was actually quite better than the first in my opinion. Never going long stretches without something horrible happening, you do not get bored or lust for progression. Sometimes jerking between the characters as they deal with the situations at stake can be rather jarring, but that only adds to the whole experience. Taking you to a cliffhanger for one character, and then jumping back to the cliffhanger from a previous character, it makes you want to see how one event unfolds, but still see how this one unfolds. Creating a sense of panic that persists throughout the entire book. Sometimes maddening, other times nerve racking, it makes you want to keep reading.
Upon reaching the end of the book, to be completely honest I really wanted another chapter. Not to say it was unsatisfying, but it just seemed like it ended a tad too quick. I really wanted to have a long plot resolution, as that is just my preference, but I can completely understand why he ended it where he ended it. And much to my excitement, it leaves it open for another tale involving Dave and John and the sheer nonsense that surrounds them. I can’t even imagine having to put up with some of the shit they deal with, and they do it with a slacker efficiency. We’ll get to it….when we get to it. If you are looking for a story that will make you check your sheets and under your bed before going to sleep, pick this bad boy up. Just make sure to keep a flamethrower or a triple barrel shotgun on your nightstand. Just in case you feel a slight pinch.
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