Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Read: The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Synopsis: A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.
In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing . . .
So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city—a city that includes his wife and son—before it is too late. 

I can't put it down. I ought to, I know. For it's kinda creeping me out a bit. And the sun is going down, not exactly a good (although apt) environment for reading a vampire novel.

That's what I wrote when I started reading The Strain. Despite having several books to finish before they were due back at the library, I'd decided to flip through it, see how The Strain went for the first few pages. Little did I expect to plow through the first 150 pages, my eyes racing across the pages, slightly frantic at any odd sound in the empty and dim apartment. I had to stop myself from reading more, partly because I was afraid of nightmares if I continued reading it before I went to sleep.

When I continued the next day (in daylight, that is!), after the next 50 pages or so, the book seemed to take a turn for the slower. The fast cinematic opening, where points of view are being switched just before reaching a climax, slowed down. There was an attempt to develop the story a bit more, but perhaps not as much explanation about the past events as I was expecting. Still, it continued to be interesting reading, although not as creepy as before.
"I thought vampires drank virgin blood. They hypnotize...they turn into bats..."
Setrakian said, "They are much romanticized. But the truth is more...how should I say?"
"Perverse," said Eph.
"Disgusting," said Nora.
"No," said Setrakian. "Banal..."
If you enjoyed the beautiful vampires in Interview with the Vampire and Twilight (I'm guessing here, as I've yet to read the Twilight series or watch the movie), The Strain isn't the book for you. Yes, it's a vampire novel. But it's far more gory and can be a bit gross. These aren't gorgeous vampires, they're ugly and rodent-like.

The Strain is the first part of a trilogy (the other books, The Fall and The Night Eternal are to be released in 2010 and 2011), but it reads fine as a standalone book. Del Toro had originally thought it up as a TV series, but the networks thought that it would be too expensive. It read very much like it would translate perfectly on screen, although it felt like it could do with some more polishing. Still, it fit perfectly as a Readers Imbibing Peril read. Scary? Yes, indeed!


Linda said...

Great review. Going to see if I can get that from the library now!

Carl V. said...

Great review. I really enjoyed this one and was surprised that I did as I generally do not enjoy the more contemporary vampire stories. I was hooked from the opening chapter and like you just sped through it. It was hard to put down. I certainly look forward to seeing where they take the story with the next two volumes.

olduvai said...

Linda - I hope you enjoy it too!

Carl - I know what you mean. I wasn't really expecting to like it this much!

imp said...

I love this first book of The Strain. i've had quite enough of Twilight and the sorts. Those vampires give me giggling goosebumps.