Affably Evil: Dr. Tennet; not only is he a friendly psychologist in between villainy, but he offers tea and coffee to the protagonists during his evil monologue. He has sugar, but apologizes that he's out of creamer. When Amy requests honey for her tea, he provides a container shaped like a bear.
The Alcoholic: John is revealed to go into withdrawal when he hasn't had a drink in a while. Also, when he first fires the "fur gun," it makes a beer larger, implying that he was thinking about having a big drink at that moment.
The Alleged Car: John's Caddie, which is such a piece of junk that the looters don't even bother to steal it. Which is good, because the trunk contained several guns and a flamethrower.
Blatant Lies: A in-universe post taken from Free Republic describes a confrontation between John and Munch's Dad, from Munch's Dad's perspective. He claims to have said things he clearly didn't and gotten responses that not only John didn't say but probably would never say, in an attempt to make himself sound better and John sound worse.
Body Horror: The spiders, which burrow into the victim's brain, before permanently attaching themselves to the host's brain and altering their nervous system and body, making the only cure death.
Brain Bleach: Literally how the spiders are killed at the hospital; treatment is a bullet in the brain followed by a dangerous cocktail of chemicals salvaged from the hospital that melt the spider. The chemicals aren't specified, but they're kept in jugs the previously held bleach.
Break the Cutie: The reason Undisclosed is saved from eradication; since John is recording Amy cradling Molly's corpse after Molly is shot by the Army, the world takes sympathy and no longer views Undisclosed as a monster-infested city beyond redemption.
The only "cure" to spider infection involves "finding out what a chainsaw tastes like"
Also used by John to decapitate an infected Frankie.
The trope being played straight is odd, as in the previous book David calls a chainsaw the dumbest possible weapon a person could use.
Cool Guns: Det. Falconer is often accompanied by his chromed handgun, and John carries a custom triple-barreled shotgun in the trunk of his car. The furry gun might be the coolest gun since the POV gun, if not ever.
Cowboy Cop: Lance Falconer is parody of the trope. It's revealed that Falconer insisted that David make him out to be this way.
Creepy Child: Anna, an unattended little girl at the Ffirth Asylum with a crusty teddy bear. It later turns out she is a monster, albeit a harmless one by the book's standards.
Curing a case of brain spiders is either "finding out what a chainsaw tastes like", or a bullet in the brain followed by having face-melting acids poured into the wound/mouth.
Carlos has a habit of killing his victims by eviscerating people who sit down outside. It later turns out he's a decent guy that can see who is infected, and simply gives them an arguably preferable death of having organs swiftly torn out (as opposed to slow-death by spider possession, transformation and gradual decay).
Deadly Bath: Dave remembers an incident where something invisible was standing in between him and his running showerhead. Dave even lampooned this trope in the previous book.
Despite Amy pointing out that liking zombie media does not make one a zombie expert, the hipsters still charge the Ffirth Asylum and all die horribly. Subverted with Amy, who, despite realizing This Is Real Life and they'll die if they enter the Ffirth Asylum, is physically unscathed in the event.
Also invoked with TJ who, after lampshading that the Black Dude Dies First, dies first in the Ffirth Asylum Massacre.
Deconstruction: Of many Zombie Apocalypse tropes, and probably YOUR attitude towards zombies. Do you think that zombie apocalypses work the way they do in the videogames, fail to grasp the horror of zombie apocalypses in general, or think you'd be a badass just because you have a gun?note But if you know how to use it, you're probably better off. Well, this book shows what would really happen to you.
Eldritch Abomination: The Shadow Men. Tennent also argues that, to a colony of bees, an exterminator is an eldritch abomination.
Flaying Alive: The REPER blacksuits; at least two are seen without masks, and both lack skin and have spiders for eyes.
Fun with Acronyms: In keeping with real-life official names such as the CDC and the FDA, fictional organizations include REPERnote (Rapid Exotic Pathogen Eradication slash Research) and OGZAnote (Outbreak Ground Zero Alpha) .
Great Escape: The second section of the book is about trying to escape the hospital lockdown.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Everyone in the hospital refers to Dave as "Spider-man" because he's the only one who can see the spiders.
Genre Savvy: John flat-out refuses to get onto the elevator with Creepy Child Anna. Instead, he races the elevator and positions himself so that he can blast her the moment the elevator door opens, just in case she becomes a monster. It turns out that she is a monster, but she's not a threat.
Guilt-Free Extermination War: REPER can get away with wiping Undisclosed off the map simply because they're the only force in town, and can twist events however they want (despite there only being an estimated 70 infected left by the end of the outbreak).
Hand Wave: In the "Molly" chapter, Dave announces that he's not going to explain how he managed to include a dog's perspective on a sequence of events, not to mention she's dead by the time he writes the book. If anyone could do it, though, it seems like he could.
Heroic Willpower: Carlos may be infected and "monstered out", but he's in control of his senses.
I Did What I Had to Do/Just Following Orders: Dr. Tennet's justification for trying to nuke Undisclosed; namely, it isn't his concern why, he's simply ordering the destruction of Undisclosed because it needs to be done. He and several other antagonists see themselves as trying to prevent the apocalypse, protecting the world from the horrific consequences of incompetent idealists and self-interested fools. Their relationship with The Man Behind the Man is nuanced.
Josh... I'm impressed you did this, you're amazing for just making this trip. But you don't know what you're doing with that thing. And I think there's a one percent chance you're going to actually need the guns and a ninety-nine percent chance that a stray cat is going to jump out of the shadows and you're going to shoot each other. And me.
Improbable Aiming Skills: The UAVs at the hospital, which can snipe a moving target in windy conditions at night by a pilot several states away, preventing people from hopping the razor-wire fencing. Handwaved as being done through a computer that compensates for variables.
In Medias Res: The plot tends to favor jumping between narrators (Dave, John, Amy and Molly) over a completely chronological plot. This later comes into effect as a reveal when the "Massacre at Ffirth Asylum" is unveiled to have already happened.
Invisible to Normals: The spiders, which prompts the CDC to assume an airborne, flesh-eating disease is what's causing people to get torn apart. Even Frankie doesn't realize he has a spider crawling on him until it's crawling down his throat and burrowing into his skull.
Ironic Death: Lampshaded with Dr. Tennet's death, as he is torn apart by one of his monsters. But then it turns out he meant for that to happen.
Kill It with Fire: When John and Dave realize that there's an entire nest of the spiders in Dave's bedroom, they decide the best course of action is to just burn the entire house down.
La Résistance: OGZA, who are a collection of zombie-enthusiasts situated outside Undisclosed.
Long Title: This Book Is Full Of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It.
Man Child: Amy's opinion of the college students that are set on killing zombies.
The Man Behind the Man: Dr. Tennet, who, after a reveal that he's a villain, claims he's simply a pawn of "Them".
Metaphorgotten: Dr. Tennet uses a fast-food metaphor to explain everyone's role in things in Book 3. Naturally, everyone gets a little confused:
[Several pages after the metaphor] John: Just so they can sue the burger place. Dave: You're... several steps behind here.
Monster Is a Mommy: Carlos, who is revealed to be a perfectly sane monster/man trying to protect his harmless monster daughter, Anna. His murders are also justified as he can detect non-humans with greater ease than Dave, and only consumes infected people who evaded detection.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: John burned down Dave's house in an attempt to prevent the outbreak from spreading, but he actually helped it spread.Falconer realizes this immediately. Dr. Tennet points out during the third act how several of their attempts at saving the day actually made things worse in the long run.
John: We didn't do any of it on purpose. We're just...not very good at things.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: John and Dave are able to get to the furgun and stop the shadow people by using Amy's phantom hand, which is implied to have been caused by the shadow people.
Not Using the Z Word: Inverted. Everyone immediately starts calling the infected "zombies," even though they're not. The government calls them Zulus, specifically to encourage citizens to make the zombie connection and not question REPER's mass bombing of the town.
Painful Transformation: When people "monster out", their anatomy typically distorts and twists until their limbs turn into weapons. Considering an infected Franky seemingly resists the parasite long enough to whisper something important to Dave, it's safe to assume the host is aware through the process.
Potty Emergency: Amy can't bring herself to use the disgusting toilet during the long bus ride to Undisclosed, so she winds up holding it until her bladder nearly bursts.
Book 2 starts 8 days, 12 hours until the massacre at Ffirth Asylum.
Book 3 starts 12 hours until the aerial bombing of Undisclosed. This fits the trope best, because it's a scheduled event that people know about far enough in advance to actually Race Against the Clock.
Amy points out that the Zombie enthusiasts keep pointing their guns at her and each other.
John positions himself in front of an elevator with his shotgun trained on the doors, intending to blast a monster that might be attacking David. When the door opens, he's pointing the shotgun directly at David's face.
Synthetic Plague: Implied with the spiders, the black suit REPER guards and the case with Carlos & Anna. Threatened by Dr. Tennet, who implies the defector Amy contacts can be injected with a disease that will turn him into a monstrous cannibal.
Take That: It's an easy shot, but the way in which Daryl's post on Free Republic conveniently edits his encounter with John is almost identical to how a lot of outside observers figure that the regulars on that forum edit everything that happens to them.
This Is Reality: Amy's rant at the hipsters, who seemingly relish being in a zombie apocalypse due to their obsession with zombie games and movies; Amy even later points out Josh is so unqualified to use a gun he has pointed his loaded weapon at her several times while talking. Unsurprisingly, their carelessness and inexperience results in them accidentally murdering a whole group of innocents they mistook for zombies, then dying horribly when the actual monsters show up.
Time Stands Still: When John takes the Soy Sauce again, he gains the ability to freeze time. However, he can't actually manipulate his frozen environment. This leads to some interesting moments, like when he climbs a column of smoke or cuts himself on an immovable moth suspended in midair.
Traintop Battle: Falconer is implied at one point to have fought somebody on top of a moving train on at least one occasion. When asked about it, he only describes it as "windy". This is likely part of David exaggerating Falconer into a badass.
Undead Child: Averted. The parasite responsible for the zombie outbreak is apparently unable to infect children and animals. This is a significant departure from an earlier draft of the book, where the villains tried to take advantage of the psychological implications of this trope by making an elementary school the intended epicenter of the outbreak, which would have led to this memorable line:
John: Remember, these are children. Aim low.
Unpredictable Results: The "fur gun," which runs on the thoughts of the user, but the user has no idea how they'll manifest.
Unreliable Narrator: In the end it's revealed that Lance Falconer's entire characterization is made up at the insistence of the real man, who is apparently not nearly as cool. David lampshades it by claiming that Lance does a few humiliating things right after demanding that David not make him look stupid. Dave also indicates he's writing the craziest possible explanation of events, which casts much of the story into suspicion.
Wham Episode: Maybe don't be holding anything you'd mind dropping when The Massacre At Ffirth Asylum finally happens.
What the Hell, Hero?: After David accidentally triggers the Massacre At Ffirth Asylum, Owen puts him on impromptu trial and tears him down so thoroughly that even Dave himself can't give a reason for why he shouldn't be executed immediately.
Owen: And that means that as long as you're alive and walkin' around in here, the three hundred—I'm sorry, the two hundred and seventy—men and women in this quarantine are in danger. Is there anyone standing here, including you, Wong, who can make a convincing argument otherwise?
David: ... Nope.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Starts becoming a major theme in Book 3, especially when it's revealed that there are many infected people that have remained almost entirely unchanged. They're basically just regular people with the possibility of "monstering out" in the future, much like David.
John: Okay, can somebody quickly just summarize for the shotgun department who it's okay and not okay to shoot?
Carlos: The world doesn't make it that simple for us, my friend.
Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": Dr. Tennet, who is fine with nuking a city full of innocents to kill some infected. He justifies it because it's beyond his authority and probably for the best.
Yank the Dog's Chain: Several times. A notable example is in the penultimate chapter. After Dave comes to terms with the fact that a sacrifice is necessary, he willingly lays down his life for Amy, only for Molly to do the same for him. Ouch.
Zombie Apocalypse: Discussed and thoroughly deconstructed. The public is quick to jump onto the idea that a zombie apocalypse has occured, and all sorts of people who have fantasized about it occurring spring into action. Some are geeky horror fans, like the people who try to help Amy, while others are self-important survivalists, like the forum-poster.