I'm not really sure where, or how, to begin with my review of this book. After reading the other reviews, I was actually a bit afraid to buy it and start listening. When King says something "scared the hell out of [him]", it makes me pause and think long and hard whether or not I want to do that to my psyche. I did, clearly, choose to press play.
I can say one thing, for certain- this is a supremely well written story. It will *clearly* not be everyone's cup of tea. However the detail and carefully placed word selections helped make this a throughly captivating listen. Cutter uses classic rhymes and tropes, familiar to anyone who has spent time in Scouts or camping, with rhythmic and pulsating effect. The suspense of the book is twisted notch by painful notch, from the first page to the last.
In turning to the focus of so many of the other reviews: yes, this book is not for the squeamish. Yes, there are brief scenes of harm to animals. Yes, it has imagery that may be exceptionally disturbing to some.
I actually was not that disturbed by much of the book. To expose a bias, or potential desensitization, I am a criminal defense attorney and was trained as an EMT. As a general rule, dealing with psychopathy or sociopathy (which are explored in depth within this book) does not shock or surprise me. The "gross out" factor didn't hit me that hard either. I will say that I didn't eat, eat, eat... anything while I was listening, lol. The only thing that actually gave me pause was the short chapter on the psychopath character and an animal. That was... disturbing.
However, hiding beneath the surface of the gore and horror is a story which is more emotional and cutting- Cutter takes the standard characters of youth and exposes them to his nightmare. The expected becomes the unexpected, but from the perspective of a 14 year old boy. Speaking as someone who was once a 14 year old boy, and one who was very much like Newton, Cutter hit the nail on the head. He plumbs the reservoirs of strength and perseverance in the face of abject horror as well as the psychological horrors we inflict on ourselves. He explores the concepts of youth and maturity, the nature of adulthood and childhood, as well as when that line is crossed.
It is not an uplifting book. It is not a light listen. I will likely give many people nightmares. It is, however, an extremely well written examination of the human psyche when faced with the literal and allegorical monsters which lurk in all of us to one degree or another. Highest marks and recommendation, but let the listener beware.
If you haven't listened to John Dies at the End, go do that first. Seriously. While this book can arguably stand alone, it would lose a LOT without the backdrop.
I read a lot of reviews about Wong's books that are, in my opinion, incredibly inaccurate or harsh. Spiders is... satire/horror/comedy about the obsession the world has with the end of the world. Like most if not all satire it's designed to be ridiculous. Which this book is in a lot of ways. It's weird and out there, juvenile and crazy. But it also speaks volumes about mass hysteria, fear mongering, and the dangers of handing total control to a single source.
Like most Cult books/films/TV, you either love it or hate it. I happen to be in the group that loves it. I love the characters because they remind me of my friends and I when *we* were in our early to mid 20s. I love the story because, well, it's great. And it's just a fun book. Campy and Weird, with an intentionally capitalized W.
I thought the performance, on the whole, was good. My main issue is that different fellows read John and Spiders- I got very used to hearing the voices in a certain way in John Dies. I spent most of Spiders having to force myself back into the story (though it wasn't that hard).
Like John Dies, if you aren't up for really weird, profanity, and generalized horror, you probably won't like Spiders. If you dig things like that... this is right up your alley.