Monday, April 23, 2012

review: The Strain (book)

This is another recommendation by Excuse the Quality and once again a good recommendation. I really enjoyed almost all of this book, really just becoming uninterested for about 50 pages about 3/4 of the way through.

The coolest part about this (for me anyways) was that the author is Guillermo del Toro (well, coauthoring... with Chuck Hogan). He is best known as a movie director for amazing movies like Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, and the upcoming Hobbit movies (yes - that's right, movies... plural. oh, HP what have you done? First, four Twilight movies... now two Hobbits.... what next? At least the industry's taste has improved). [EDIT - apparently he dropped out of the hobbit movies and Peter Jackson is back on the scene, sorry folks - END EDIT] And now he's getting into books. The only real worry I had was whether or not this would read like a movie script. However, del Toro actually has quite a lot of experience writing as he has also written numerous screenplays including ones for the three movies listed above.

del Toro is considered to be one of the best in the fantasy/horror genre and boy does The Strain count. I really liked how this book was thought of. It really mixed the best of the classic one evil vampire with the zombie/vampire virus plot line. I felt that some of it was a little cliche but at least it was well done. The Strain is the first in the The Strain Trilogy; the second is The Fall and third is The Night Eternal. We start out following the landing of a 777 (it's funny cuz it's God's number) plane where all of a sudden after landing all the communication and power cuts out leaving the plane a shiny, mass of dark metal on the runway.

Eventually the cops decide to break into the plane and what they find prompts them to call the CDC. Dr. Ephraim "Eph" Goodweather is the man leading the team. He's a divorced dad with lots of issues - namely a very busy job which gets him into a lot of hot water with his ex-wife. Eph represents the "viral" side of the story. On the "classical" we have Professor Abraham Setrakian. He's a Romanian Jew and Holocaust survivor. His grandmother used to tell him tales of her childhood neighboring village where creepy thing would happen and children would go missing. So when the same thing started happening at the Treblinka concentration camp, he was aware of the signs. He is an expert in vampirism and has a major grudge against the beasties. He's this series Van Hellsing.

I won't give away the plot just be aware that although some of it is rather cliche there are definitely some really excellent twists in the plot. And of course, a cliffhanger to get you interested in books 2 and 3. I give The Strain 4 out of 5 stars and Excuse the Quality agrees with me. You can read his review here! For me, onto book 2 The Fall!


  1. The mix of the cliche and the uniquely new really makes this an odd series in a lot of ways. And yet I don't think I would have liked it if it hadn't straddled that line. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I can't wait to hear what you think of the next one!

    (Also I should point out that del Toro is just the co-author as it was joint effort by both him and Chuck Hogan. And del Toro isn't the director for upcoming Hobbit movies, Peter Jackson is.)

    1. yes yes... but no one cares about chuck hogan (sorry chuck!).

      also apparently i was reading an old page because del Toro was supposed to be producing/directing but dropped out. my bad!

    2. I was kind of bummed when I heard Jackson was going to be doing them instead of del Toro. I was excited to see del Toro's take on everything.

      No one cares about Chuck Hogan? I guess that's why Guillermo del Toro fell "head over heels" for his work (his words not mine). And why Stephen King said Hogan's novel "Prince of Thieves" was one of the 10 best books of 2007. Even if it was true that no one cared, he still co-wrote the book and deserves recognition regardless. Not mentioning him is like reviewing "Good Omens" and only listing Neil Gaiman as the author.

    3. Look, I've got nothing against Chuck Hogan but the important draw for me was Del Toro, but maybe that's just cuz I haven't read "Prince of Thieves".

      I was also bummed that he's not doing The Hobbit! But it is Peter Jackson's baby... well, kinda. Despite the fact that King Kong was his true passion. But Del Toro might have made it too out there or dark for the rest of the series. *sigh* Regardless I am looking forward to The Hobbit movies.