Spiders infest a good book

In recent years, horror comedy has become, to put it mildly, a big deal. From such massively successful titles as “Zombieland” and “Shaun of the Dead”, to less successful and, hopefully, mostly forgotten works, like the “Scary Movie” franchise, or virtually any work of direct satire to come about recently, the subgenre has taken a sudden turn from the pastime of certain particularly nerdy individuals to an absolute dominator of the pop culture mainstream. Then there are the absolute standouts: works in the subgenre so impressive, so transcendent of the others, that the mere memory of having had the opportunity to experience them fills one with a happy sense of nostalgia.

David Wong’s “John Dies at the End” was one such work, and its recently released sequel, “This Book is Full of Spiders,” I’m happy to say, is just as spectacular.

Wong’s sequel takes place a short while after the events of the first novel. David, the hero of both novels, is seeing a state psychiatrist after using a crossbow to shoot a pizza delivery man he believes to be a demon. Amy, his girlfriend, has gone to college. John, the eponymous character of the previous book, is a drunken madman. All is the same as ever, until one morning, when David has a rather unpleasant run-in with what appears to be a giant spider. This sets in motion a series of events I won’t dare to spoil, but that are well worth the wait.

One of the greatest charms of “John Dies at the End” was David Wong’s impeccable writing. He has a unique ability to inhabit wildly improbable situations with absolutely believable characters. This gives his stories a certain legitimacy that few others, especially those in the realms of horror comedy, can match. Thankfully, he has lost none of this talent in the hiatus between the first novel. In fact, he seems to have developed it more fully. Mixed with the constant onslaught of laughter are some truly emotional moments. The character development is a far more important element here than in the previous novel, and, as a result, the connection is much deeper.

In every aspect, this novel is just as good, if not better, than the last. Scattered throughout are original twists on common tropes, Perfectly three-dimensional characters, and a brave ability to put legitimate tragedy in a work of comedy. For fans of the last book, there is not a single disappointment to be had within this novel’s ample folds. As sequels go, this is everything a person could want and more. So much more.