This Book is Full of Spiders by David Wong

John Dies at the End felt very much like a book that was written in pieces without a particular goal in mind, with weird episodic sections that didn't always tie together too neatly.  This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don't Touch It comes together much more tightly, with a plot that's (mostly) coherent and character motivations that make a little more sense.

After the events of the previous novel, things haven't really settled down much in the town of "Undisclosed".  It's still a terrible town, with nothing much to recommend it.  David and John still are useless layabouts.  Only now, and infestation of weird spider-like parasites are taking over and zombifying people.  With humans mutating into super-killers and a government unable to quell the fears of the nation, the infected are quarantined in the hospital where they think the outbreak began.  Obviously David and John know better.

This book is slightly less insane than the first, but what it loses in crazy it picks up with a better story, even if it feels like a messed up comedy version of the Walking Dead.  There are still the swears and the reference to drug use as in the first, but it feels tamer, more accessible.  You certainly need to have read the first book to understand why John and David are special, and why David's dog Molly seems unusually clever.

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Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda

I am always on the hunt for books that might appeal to those Percy Jackson fans... and this one caught my eye because it was about Indian mythology (and had a cover that suggested there might be some good action).

Ash Mistry is visiting his aunt and uncle in India, when his uncle takes on the job of translating some pictograms for the mysterious Lord Alexander Savage. Ash is immediately suspicious of the large payment offered for the job and the creepy appearance of Lord Savage and his employees. Somehow they seem to resemble reptiles and dangerous predators a little too much...

Ash is at an archeological site near Lord Savage's home when the ground suddenly gives way and he falls into an undiscovered area under the site. He accidentally pricks himself on a golden arrowhead, which leaves a sliver in his finger, and begins to see visions of the battle against the evil demon king Ravana. It turns out that Lord Savage is indeed an evil bad guy who wants to release the demon Ravana so that he can become immortal.... and the golden arrowhead is exactly the thing he is looking for. Unfortunately Ash and his sister become the primary target for Lord Savage and his employees -- who are really demons in disguise. 

With the world at risk of being overrun by murderous demons, Ash needs to find a way to stop Lord Savage. This means battling giant birds, monstrous reptiles and shape shifting wolves. 

I liked the action and pace of the plot and definitely found bits about Indian mythology intriguing. I do think the gods/demons will interest many Percy Jackson fans. I don't find the conversation and characters to be as humorous as the ones in Rick Riordan's books but there are some witty comments that give the characters distinct voices and keep the tone of the book light. The whole thing about incarnation added an interesting layer to the plot, but I felt it could have the potential to become a bit of a cop out where it doesn't matter if characters die because they'll come back to life later anyway.

This is more suited for preteens (pretty much the same audience for the Percy Jackson series). Visit the Ash Mistry blog for character profiles, info on Indian Mythology, book excerpts and activity sheets. And yes, there is a sequel: Ash Mistry and the City of Death.
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