Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
At New York's JFK Airport an arriving Boeing 777 taxiing along a runway suddenly stops dead. All the shades have been drawn, all communication channels have mysteriously gone quiet. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of a CDC rapid response team investigating biological threats, boards the darkened plane...and what he finds makes his blood run cold.
A terrifying contagion has come to the unsuspecting city, and unstoppable plague that will spread like an all-consuming wildfire-lethal, merciless, hungry...vampiric.
And in a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem an aged Holocaust survivor knows that the war he has been dreading his entire life is finally here...
I don't even remember the last modern vampire book I read where the vampires were the actual bad guys. I'm a fan of Anne Rice and a few other books were the vampires are the heroes but I think Edward & Bella have ruined that whole concept for me, at least for a while. So needless to say it was a nice treat for me to read a book that cast vampires as the blood thirsty killers they are supposed to be. The fangs are back in the monster and I hope they are here to stay.
In the hands of Guillermo Del Toro, whose movies "The Orphanage" and "Pan's Labyrinth" are two of my all time favorites, The Strain, read like a fast pace movie that kept me on the edge of my seat and my heart beating just a little more rapidly than normal. The action never seemed to slow down and even the smallest detail made sense and was necessary to move the story forward.
Even with the thrilling action and a driving pace a story isn't good unless it's peopled by main characters that you can become vested in. I want to care whether or not these people survive the coming apocalypse, and for the most part I do. I want to know what happens to them next. I will stop short of wishing I was on the ground with them, in a rapidly dying city where more and more of their fellow citizens are becoming blood thirsty, mindless monsters. I like them, but I wouldn't want to share their fight or looming fate.
My only slight disappointment with the book, and it's slight, is that other than the mythology and lore behind what is happening on the ground, there is really nothing "vampiric" about the story. You could easily turn the vampires in zombies or some other monster that is transformed by a toxin or virus. The background was set up nicely for the upcoming civil war between vampires, with the entire human race caught in the middle. I just wish there was more pure vampire in the novel, not something that could be changed out with a slightly modified version of a running, hungry citizen of London during "28 Days Later".
Other than that little quibble, I'm eagerly waiting my opportunity to read the next book in the series to find out what happens to not only Eph and those he has gathered around him but to the entire world as well.