This isn't the sort of book to read just before bed.
After reading the first book in this series, 'John Dies at the End', I was pretty much prepared for the weirdness, boyish humour and obscene language I knew I would find in the second book of this series. It continues to follow the hapless heroes David Wong and his friend John, but this book is also quite different in some ways from the last; the storyline is much less fragmented and instead follows a main one; the author placing his characters in a messed up zombie-style end of world story for which they are the cause, and leaving them to deal with the situation. However, while this storyline does flow better, I thought it lacked the complete originality of the first book and seemed a bit like a spin-off with a descriptive violence overload.
In general 'zombie' stories do contain large amounts of gore and bloody battles, but I found this book’s description of mutilated bodies, the actions of some characters and in some cases, no-other-choice murder, to be quite disturbing. If the book was in film form it probably wouldn’t be so bad, but something which can be quite comedic on screen can become very much less so when everything is described in detail. Just think of ‘Shaun of the Dead’, but as a book, and you’ll see what I mean. However, despite this, and strange as it might seem, I found the book to be quite addictive to read once you picked it up, despite my intentions to put it down! I think this is because the author has set up an “alternative” interest and a form of intrigue for the “shocked” readers who don’t care much for the mindless gore. This is in the form of the running theme of the human mind and perception of reality, using the “invisible” monsters to illustrate this. And so the “shocked” reader continues to read the story in order to find out what will happen to the characters in the end and whether they do go completely mad. This of course may all just be me reading into the author’s intentions way too much, to try and find something good to say about it, and also to find a reason why I kept on reading. I also found it rather annoying that none of the characters are that likeable and, if you do get to like any of them, they’re usually the ones to die.
Overall, I found I enjoyed the first book in the series better, if just because of its complete originality (despite the swearing and weirdness) in comparison to this one. However, even though this book as a whole is not the kind I would usually read and is in some ways quite stereotypical of the zombie genre; i.e. lots of gore, I thought the writing style was again very well done. The fact that it is written in the first person sucks the reader completely into the character’s world and serves to convince them of the story’s plausibility, even though you are told of its exaggerated nature beforehand and know full well it could not be possible in reality! Afterwards you start seeing shadows round every corner and wonder when the spiders will come. I have also learned from experience that it isn’t the sort of book to read just before bed. Well, not if you want pleasant dreams!
Review by Deborah Bell
8.5/10 from 1 reviews
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