Michael Clifton's Reviews > The Strain

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro
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's review
Feb 03, 2012

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Read from February 03 to 11, 2012

The Strain is what I would call a more scientific version of the vampire and zombie-type movies and novels that we have been inundated with of late. Make no mistake, this is no "Twilight" novel but a thriller with a splash of the horror genre added in. Although a necessarily dark novel given the genre and subject, I found the characters to be compelling and the plot riveting. The Strain was very well written, and del Toro did an excellent job in spooling out the storyline until it reached a crescendo at the end.

The Strain begins with the arrival of a Transatlantic flight of a passenger jet in New York City. Immediately upon arrival, the plane goes silent, as if everyone on board had suddenly been stricken with some mysterious illness or ailment. Upon further investigation, the authorities discover that with the exception of four unconscious passengers, all aboard the plane have died suddenly and mysteriously...the only evidence of anything being amiss a mark on each dead passenger's neck!

It is suspected that a virus of some sort is the cause of the sudden deaths, so the passenger jet is quarantined, and the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) called in. Enter the main character, epidemiologist, Dr. Ephraim, "Eph" Goodweather. Eph and his team soon make some grisly discoveries on the nature of the "virus" and soon the 4 surviving passengers begin exhibiting strange characteristics that defy medical logic. When the "dead" passengers from the plane disappear from the morgue and begin attacking citizens in New York, all hell literally breaks loose.

Of course, the authorities discount Eph and his team's warnings that something is seriously amiss, so it is up to Eph and a ragtag team including an old shop owner (who it seems is the only person who actually understands the nature of the vampires and how to kill them), and a city pest exterminator.

The Strain is an apocalyptic novel, much like the books in this genre tend to run. There are two other novels in this series, with The Strain ending with the vampires spreading like vermin. I think you can get a good idea from that where the next two novels are going.

I don't particularly like the dark nature of novels such as The Strain. It seems to me that there is already enough of that in the world as it is, so I'm not really drawn to these kinds of books. But, with that said, I can honestly say this book was so well written, the characters so crisply described, that despite myself, I had to keep reading!

I rated The Strain as three stars. However, were I more interested in this genre and style of book, I undoubtedly would have rated it much higher.

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