Jason Pargin’s first novel, John Dies at the End, was originally published as an online serial. It eventually developed enough of a cult following to evolve into a full-blown book deal, with a hardcover print run and everything. The wacky misadventures of Dave and John––two 20-something slackers facing down a host of otherworldly monsters in their pathetic hometown––caught the attention of esteemed horror director Don Coscarelli (Phansasm, Bubba Ho-Tep), who adapted the novel into a Paul Giamatti-starring film that’s been bouncing around the festival circuit since January. Magnet is planning a VOD release sometime in late December.
It sounds like a dream scenario for any would-be novelist, but Pargin (writing under the pseudonym David Wong) proves he’s no fluke with the hilarious, hallucinatory sequel This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It. Dave and John are back, this time attempting to quell a surge of giant parasitic spiders that have infected their undisclosed hometown. Their investigation goes predictably awry, resulting in a full-on zombie oubreak. This Book is Full of Spiders hit American bookstores back on October 2. Read on for the full review.
While I dug the biting humor and crazy originality of John Dies at the End, the narrative was all over the place. A bit of a clusterfuck, really. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the novel as an experience. But overall, the story could have used more focus. (Seeing as how I accidentally slept through my Sundance screening, I’m not sure how the movie compares. And frankly, I’m still so burned up over missing the screening, I don’t really want to talk about it.)
This Book is Full of Spiders is an improvement over John Dies at the End in virtually every way. It’s a funnier, faster novel, retaining the coal-black humor of John Dies while improving on the fractured story. When Dave wakes to find an enormous spider creature clinging to his ankle, “heavy as a can of beer”, he suspects the town is once again being threatened by an inter-dimensional breach. After enlisting his slacker cohort John to help contain the parasites, they predictably fuck things up beyond belief, which results in a full-scale apocalypse.
Jason Pargin has apparently sold his soul in exchange for a vivid imagination, as the creatures in This Book is Full of Spiders are bursting with enough cinematic detail to leave H.P. Lovecraft writhing in his grave. (The “turkey monster” alone is worth the price of admission.) What begins as a gleefully juvenile comedy packed with stray one-liners soon gives way to straight action-horror, and Pargin really knows how to keep the pages turning. For readers willing to go with the flow, This Book is Full of Spiders is a treasure trove of trippy goodness.
4 out of 5 Skulls