Omi Mccarthy, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Omi Mccarthy)
This was one of the scariest books I've ever read. I had nightmares for days. It takes all the sexy out of being a vampire, a refreshing change after all the Twilight stuff. This series should be made into a mini-series or movies.
Harrisonbergeron, September 12, 2012 (view all comments by Harrisonbergeron)
Oh boy, is this a terrible trilogy (The Strain, The Fall and I forgot the title of the last one even though I just read it). Have you ever read a series, expecting, hoping, it will get better? But it never does? And then you realize you spent more time reading the books than the authors did writing them?
The opening of this trilogy has a great motif: a plane full of dead people lands in New York. What's going on? Sure, it's a riff on Nosferatu's ship but it just hooked me. On top of that it has an epidemiologist as the hero (so what if Hogan and Del Torro don't know the difference between epidemiology and dermatology?).
But it goes straight downhill, bouncing off of every possible predictable cliché:
Viral cause for vampires? Check
Nazis were vampires? Check
Overwrought father-son conflict arising from silly misperceptions and evil-doer manipulations (resolved through heart-felt love?) Check
Many, many-too-many, way-too-many (and then so many more that they become dentist-drill painful to read) narrow escapes by pure-hearted heroes and heroines? Check
With lots of silver-encrusted sword fights? Check
These two very accomplished authors phoned in this trilogy using Night and Weekend minutes. The only weird, interesting thing about this series is an odd Old Testament metaphysical premise that is jarringly thrown without any coherent plot resolution. I picked this book up in part because I liked Chuck Hogan's strangely ambivalent novel "The Standoff" with its complex heroes and villains. But this is not a good, trashy series. Inexplicably, there wasn't even any hot vampire sex--the one hackneyed trope they missed. It is interchangeable with Justin Cronin's mind-numbing "The Passage" series, which is another publisher-inspired, "get 'em while they're hot vampire virus apocalypse Big Books". Pick either one if you are really desperate for something to read, or try instead:
Vampire-virus apocalypse? Matheson's "I am Legend"--a surprisingly complex, dark book.
General, good-old-fashioned, apocalypse? Try Walter Miller's "Canticle for Liebowitz". Maybe even "Cat's Cradle" or "Galapagos" by Kurt Vonnegut if you like your despair with a little humorous irony.
Evil Nazi-vampire Big Book trashy reads? "Carrion Comfort" by Dan Simmons (come to think of it, he also wrote about vampire-inducing retroviruses in the more mediocre "Children of the Night").
crowyhead, July 29, 2011 (view all comments by crowyhead)
This is a bit fluffy, probably on par with the Preston/Child Pendergast books that I devour so readily, but like those books, it's a load and a half of fun. Imagine a biologically-based vampire plague in NYC, with shades of zombie apocalypse, and you've pretty much got it. The vampires will be somewhat familiar to anyone who's seen "Blade II," although they've been refined and modified.
I don't know if I'm the only one, but I was definitely casting the movie version in my head as I read this, trying to figure out which characters would be played by Del Toro favorites like Doug Jones and Ron Perlman (my best guess: Doug Jones = the airline pilot and several other heavily made up characters; Ron Perlman = the Russian exterminator).
This is not destined to be my Favorite Vampire Books Ever, but it is diverting. Sadly, I was unable to get into the sequel: the writing here is clunky, but the story carries you along. I did not have the same experience with The Fall -- it was just too much of a slog.
Colleen Gray, January 11, 2011 (view all comments by Colleen Gray)
I thought this was a great book. Not only was it scary but it hade a great storyline. I think that horror fans will enjoy it as well as those who are just interested in a great read. I read it when it first came out and it was so hard to have to wait for this 2nd book in the Trilogy.
emmayhem, January 7, 2011 (view all comments by emmayhem)
As a big fan of del Toro's films I went into this with a lot of expectations and thankfully, I was not disappointed. I read The Passage this year as well and, although I think these 2 books are very similar I quite simply liked The Strain better. I read it in 3 days, which is really saying something since I don't find a lot of down time to read. I'm old fashioned when it comes to vampires and I think I will always prefer the Anne Rice brooding, sexy variety but as far as virals go, Hogan and del Toro nailed it.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Director Del Toro (who won an Oscar for Pan's Labyrinth) makes a dramatic splash in his fiction debut, the first volume in a vampires vs. humanity trilogy, coauthored with Hogan (Prince of Thieves). Just as a jumbo jet on a flight from Germany to New York is touching down at JFK, something goes terribly wrong. When Ephraim Goodweather, of the Centers for Disease Control, investigates the darkened plane, he finds all but four passengers and crew dead, drained of blood. Despite Goodweather's efforts to keep the survivors segregated, they get discharged into the general population. Soon after, the corpses of the tragedy's victims disappear. The epidemiologist begins to credit the wild stories of Abraham Setrakian, an elderly pawnbroker who's the book's Van Helsing figure, and concludes that a master vampire has arrived in the U.S. The authors maintain the suspense and tension throughout in a tour de force reminiscent of Whitley Strieber's early work. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Kirkus Reviews,
"The book boasts a plethora of arresting images and many terrific macabre touches....Great characters, a semi-plausible premise and a flair for striking scenes get this trilogy off to a first-rate start."
by The Onion A.V. Club,
"[A] predictable but generally engaging thriller. The chapters come in short bursts, mimicking the editing of a big-budget epic. (Grade: B)"
by Entertainment Weekly,
"The Strain is a competently constructed piece of entertainment, and I'll give it bonus points for shaking up some vampire clichés....What's missing in The Strain is the idiosyncratic artistry and the alchemical fusion of high and low pop that made Pan's Labyrinth so special. The novel could have used a little less Hogan and little more del Toro. (Grade: C)"
"The first and last 100 pages or so are as good as it gets. What happens in between will keep you in a state of high anxiety approaching panic. The Strain will have you sleeping with a night light on for the rest of your life."
An epic battle for survival begins between man and vampire in this heart-stopping thriller — the first in a trilogy — from one of Hollywood's most popular storytellers and a Hammett Award-winning writer. An electrifying and highly imaginative retelling of vampire lore that reaches from Eastern Europe during World War II to contemporary New York and features fascinating and unique biological and historical details.
by Harper Collins,
“A high-tech vampire epic....Terrifying.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Part The Andromeda Strain, part Night of the Living Dead.” —Salon.com
“Chuck Hogan is known for his taut thrillers, Guillermo del Toro for his surreal horror films…The Strain brings out the best of each.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
An epic battle for survival begins between man and vampire in The Strain—the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy from one of Hollywoods most inventive storytellers and a critically acclaimed thriller writer. Guillermo del Toro, the genius director of the Academy Award-winning Pans Labyrinth and Hellboy, and Hammett Award-winning author Chuck Hogan have joined forces to boldly reinvent the vampire novel. Brilliant, blood-chilling, and unputdownable, The Strain is a nightmare of the first order.
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