Apatt's Reviews > The Strain

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro
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A nice and breezy read, though nice isn't quite the right word and the breeze is a bit fetid! The Strain is an increasingly rare (ahem) strain of badass vampire novels. There are no well-coiffed, sexy, maudlin vampires in this book, they just "vant to suck your blood" (without the Lugosi style Euro-accented declaration). Of course talking about how de-fanged, lame and sparkly vampires have become since the advent of Twilight has become a trope for vampire books review so I just want to get it out of my system. Besides, I believe Anne Rice started the trend with Interview with the Vampire, to her credit she told her story in a more thoughtful, literary and intelligent manner than Ms. Meyer (of no-link-to-author fame).

Artwork for the graphic novel edition

Anyway, back to badass vampires and the fun times to be had with them. The Strain starts off very well with a plane mysteriously landing with all the lights off and no communication or activity from the crew or passengers. Given the synopsis of the book (not to be found within this review), you can probably guess what happened to them. In this case being somewhat predictable does not detract from the fun as the story is nicely built up and the excitement mounts. I do enjoy the sci-fi-ish vampire design (that is some crazy proboscis!), and the more scientific description and rationalization of vampirism which is all too rare. For example:

"It (a vampire's heart) was misshapen, shrunken. The arterial structure had been altered also, the circulatory system grown more simplified, the arteries themselves covered over with a dark, cancerous blight."

No, this is not Gene Simmons

This reminds me of GRRM's Fevre Dream and Brian Lumley's excellent Necroscope series, I am reliably told there are others like Justin Cronin's The Passage but I have not read them yet. I am leery of reading vampire fiction these days, I am afraid (very afraid) of coming across more Edwards, Stefans, Damons etc. The co-authors did a good job with the plot structure, the action and the accessible / readable narrative. The prose style and characterization seem a little pedestrian to me, no linguistic flourishes to be found here, not that such a thing is necessary of course, but they add to the reading experience. Guillermo del Toro is of course a highly gifted director of popular genre movies like Blade II, Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy movies. The book's action scenes do seem to be quite cinematic and visual, though I could have done without some of the soap opera elements. His co-author
Chuck Hogan was a very popular wrestler in his heyday before turning to writing is the author of several best sellers which I have not had the pleasure of reading (I do wonder what his prose style is like in his solo endeavors?).

The end of the book is inconclusive without being a cliffhanger, clearly due to this being the first book of a trilogy and the authors want to entice the readers to come back. The book is fun but I am somewhat ambivalent about reading the rest of the trilogy, something is missing here, may be a staked heart.

Vampire Homer

The Passage by Justin Cronin is a similar bio-vampire book, also a commercially successful series, and also being adapted for TV. It is mostly set in a far future post apocalypse world. It better written than The Strain I think, but suffers from excessive length.

• I have seen a few episodes of the TV show based on this series, gave it up after these few. Didn't really work for me, the acting and the script was not up to par I think; some of the special effects were fun.

Cool artwork for the TV show. Look at that damn proboscis!
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
September 4, 2011 – Shelved
March 25, 2013 – Started Reading (Mass Market Paperback Edition)
March 25, 2013 – Shelved (Mass Market Paperback Edition)
March 27, 2013 –
page 147
25.13% (Mass Market Paperback Edition)
April 2, 2013 – Finished Reading (Mass Market Paperback Edition)

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael Nothing to fear from The Passage, nary a sparkle in the midst! (Though it is similarly inconclusive without a cliffhanger, unless you count the somewhat annoying epilogue.)

Let me know if you need assistance combining editions you have "reviewed". I've had some experience fixing my own problems there...

message 2: by Apatt (last edited Jan 22, 2014 08:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Apatt Michael wrote: "Let me know if you need assistance combining editions you have "reviewed". I've had some experience fixing my own problems there..."

Yes I do! Thanks for the offer Michael!

"The Passage" sounds good to me!

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