6 Minutes to Review...
"What the hell did it say?" yelled Zombos, pulling on a black, multi-legged, watchamacallit tenaciously clinging onto his patent leathers. He was all dolled up for a night at the Metropolitan Opera, full tux and all, and boy does he hate to get it rumpled.
"Give me a minute, will you!" I yelled back, peeling another watchamacallit from my neck. I flung it against the wall but it landed on its legs and brazenly stuck its tongue out at me. I flipped the bird with full malice as I rummaged across my desk for the press release from Thomas Dunne Books. I didn't want to take my eyes off the little bugger so I had to shift my attention back and forth a lot. Another of the little beaties jumped on my hand, but I shook it off...and onto Zombos's other shoe. He didn't like that much, either.
"Here it is!" I found the press release and scanned it. "Oh, I see the problem. There's a warning in really small print about not getting the book wet." I looked at my reviewer's copy of This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It! by David Wong. Then I looked at my spilled cup of coffee. Both were in close proximity. Too close. I knew I should have just stuck to reviewing movies.
5 Minutes to Review...
"If you'd just give me your opera cape," I pleaded with Zombos, "we could trap the little buggers in it. Damnit, no one wears opera capes to the Metropolitan Opera any more!"
Zombos refused, his sartorial sense getting the better of him. Two watchamacallits were clinging to my legs, and another one was repeatedly sticking his furry behind in my ear. It seemed to enjoy doing that. The panel doors to the library started to open.
"Mr. Zombos, I have your maple pecan squares and espresso," said Glenor Glenda the maid.
"Don't open those doors! Not a good time. Come back later," I said while trying to make my way to the doors to keep them closed. The twin annoyances on my legs intertwined their legs and tripped me. On purpose. The little bastards. As I fell forward, Glenor Glenda entered the library with a large serving tray filled with maple pecan squares and a small pot of espresso.
All at once the watchamacallits jumped off of me and Zombos and onto the serving tray, knocking Glenor off balance and the tray to the floor. She screamed. They started eating the maple pecan squares.
"Now's our chance!" I reached around Zombos and flipped the opera cape over his head and protestations. I hurled it over the tray and the maple pecan square eating buggers, neatly grabbing a square from one's legs--and there were quite a few of them to contend with, the legs I mean--before bundling the ends of the cape under the heavy tray. "That should hold them for a while."
4 Minutes to Review...
Zombos looked at me, then at the maple pecan square in my hand. I sighed. I gave it to him. While he munched on it I helped Glenor off the floor and into the nearest chair. She always gets so frazzled when things like this happen. I turned my attention to the press release, hoping it would hold a solution to our problem. I continued to read the fine print.
"Wait, here's something." I read it out loud. " 'In case of wet accidents, let dry, and within ten minutes they will shrink to nothing.' Oh, that's good. Wait, what's this? 'Under no circumstances should you feed them sugary foods. This will make them grow larger.' Oh, that's bad. Really bad."
3 Minutes to Review...
"I tell you this will work." I picked up the now squirming opera cape, making sure the ends were tightly closed. "We run in and out without a peep. As long as they don't eat any more sugary foods, we're good. They'll dry out and shrink to nothing and that will be the end of it."
Zombos scratched his bearded chin. Glenor scratched her cheek. I got tired of waiting and headed for the hall closet. In the book, John and David use utility closets to hop around town, like Star Trek's teleporter or Stargate's, uhm, stargate, but without all the glittery special effects. It's more like POOF! you're now somewhere else, like Walmart's dressing room. I figured we'd try it.
"Okay, here goes," I said to Zombos and Glenor, with one hand ready to turn the knob on the closet door. "Ready? Just imagine being someplace else. Okay, let's go." I turned the knob and opened the door. We walked into the closet and found ourselves standing in an aisle at Costco's.
Zombos was amazed. Glenor Glenda not so much. She wanted to check out the paper goods, however.
"Look, we get in and we get out. Here, Glenor, while you head over to the paper goods, just drop this tray wrapped in Zombos's opera cape someplace where it won't stick out and be noticed, and hurry back. Chop-chop!" She grabbed hold of the tray, and staggered down the aisle under its weight. Waiting seemed like an eternity, but it was really only a minute by the time she returned without the watchamacallits.
"Great," I said, "good job. Where did you leave them?"
"Oh, the only place an opera cape wouldn't stick out is by the Halloween section, so I put the tray in back of a deep shelf over there. Then made sure no one would see it by covering it with bags and bags of candy corn."
Zombos and I looked at each other, then at Glenor. She was smiling at being so clever. Us, not so much.
"Right then, time to go!"
Zombos agreed. We found a utility closet and returned to the mansion. Glenor went to the kitchen to get more maple pecan squares. Zombos and I returned to the library. I couldn't shake the feeling I had forgotten something. Of course, the review!
Following on the heels of John Dies at the End, but not too closely, comes This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It!, a horror-comedy with enough spidery monsters and crazy situations to keep its pages gunning successfully for your laughs and shrieks at every turn.
Once again, John and David are smack in the middle of a calamity that befalls their town called [Undisclosed]: a spider-thingy invasion, which starts when David's bitten on the leg while sleeping. Following the best course of action, and with a town reputation that puts them somewhere between the likability of Attila the Hun and the credibility of a Republican (Note to Editor: please remove cheap swipe at Republicans before posting this and replace with "Philip Roth"), they choose the best course of action to contain the spread of contagion. Which, of course, means the town's a goner. Even the nearby all-night burrito stand isn't safe.
The spider-thingy invasion swings into high gear and the nasties can permutate human bodies like The Thing, and enter oral and more southern-leaning body cavities with annoying ease, like the slugs in Slither (or maybe even Night of the Creeps). Oh, and they're invisible to boot. John and David can see them, but that's because these guys are monster and calamity magnets. So is the town, apparently, especially after John Dies at the End (but he didn't because he's still here in this novel. (Oh, damn --Note to Editor: please remove spoiler, too.)
Watching their every move are the shadow men, who seem to be manipulating the mayhem for their benefit, as well as the nefarious doctor in charge of the government response that starts with containment, then blossoms to retreat and then more containment, just farther away.
The story's point of view shifts between David's snarky narration, his plucky girlfriend Amy's journal, and John's cut and dried observations. Molly the dog also gets her chance, too. Linear isn't a concept high on David Wong's list, so the story bounces between time periods and between countdowns to major events. After the encounter with the mysterious box that can't be opened and the GI Joe toy soldiers guarding it, expect more weirdness than you could find on the shelves of Wally's Videe-Oh! store, where David works when he's not front running the apocalypse or avoiding big spiders with human heads, and the zombies they create as the black, multi-legged furballs hide out in unsuspecting people's mouths after clearing a little room for comfort by eating a chunk of brain matter.
I usually add a quote from the novel to highlight the author's style. Forget it here. After finding potential quote after quote, I gave up. I couldn't decide on which one to use. Gonzo? Perhaps. Cheap shots taken for humor? Sure. A novel you can't possibly leave unattended until you finish it? Definitely. It's wicked, quantum-flux horror, done with a Tango twirl and a twist of farce, where survivalists don't survive (score one for the zombies) and there really are nasty things hiding under the bed.
And oh yes, there will be Soy Sauce, and a Dorf like escape through a narrow and low-ceilinged tunnel, and the liberal use of duct tape.
(Note from Zombos: I say Zoc, isn't your editor a Republican?)
(Note to Zombos and Zoc from Your Editor: Yes, I am.)