Kevin Bessey's Reviews > The Fall

The Fall by Guillermo del Toro
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Mar 14, 2012

did not like it
Read in October, 2011

If you're thinking of reading "The Fall" then you probably already know about "The Strain"...and if you've read "The Strain" and are thinking of reading "The Fall" my only advice would be that you would read it only if you're the type of person who likes to watch B-movies and figures, "I've already watched half an hour, I might as well finish it to see how it ends." I'm that type of person...and because I love B-movies, it probably has a lot to do with why I'm still reading this series.

**SPOILERS** My review below contains spoilers, but I only mention these things to defend my POV:

1."The Fall" carries much of the bad dialogue that "The Strain" introduced. For example, the line "my sword sings of silver" has to be one of the worst battle cries ever penned, and of course it bleeds it's way into the sequel (no pun intended). Other lines such as "silver blinged killer" and "he understood the man's pain. He understood the pain of this world" just seem cliche and over dramatic. There are some scenes and other portions of dialogue that are just plain eye-rolling at times.

2. Another problem that I had with "The Strain" also carries over into "The Fall" - which is probably my biggest problem - the `biology' of the vampires mixed with myth and fantasy. I have a strong background in biology and at times during "The Strain" could somewhat follow where Guillermo del Toro & Co. were going with the whole re-invention of the vampire transmission via biological means (i.e. blood worms and viruses). After trying to "scientifically" butter-up their vampire transmission through biological means, you discover that there is a mythical aspect to their existence, such as having to sleep in earth or coffin, the head vampire(s) able to speak telepathically and also `see' through their minions, **spoiler** upon the death of a head vampire the minions vanish into dust (keep in mind we're running with a biological theme here), and **another spoiler** by destroying the head vampire's birth/origin place, it will kill the head vampire. All too weird and all too lame. If they wanted a biological theme, they should've stuck with it before they introduced a basket of non-scientific elements. Choose one, or the other...which brings me to my next point:

3. The dichotomy made the story a hard sell and fully buy in to. What I mean by that is:

a. Was this trilogy to be a "re-invention" or a "re-telling" of the vampire mythos? It seems as if it was trying to be both and needed to stick with one or the other. Otherwise it is confusing and disheartening.
b. Was the hero (Goodweather) a humane scientist/dad or a vampire killer? I had a hard time trying to figure out (even from the first book) if this was to be a gradual change and development of character or just write in his actions for whatever fit the scene (I need to love my son and remorse for humanity or slice `n dice this vamp?).
c. Was the "Van-Helsing" as everyone has aptly identified of the novels (Setrakian) supposed to be this tough "Van-Helsing" character or this crumbling, dying man? C'mon - the guy is in his eighties with crippled hands and fingers (that gets mentioned multiple times) with a bad heart condition and he is supposed to be running around and cutting up vampires...even if he were both - a dying man and vampire hunter - it would seem an odd combination...something like Abe Vigoda meets Michael Phelps.
d. Was Gus a hard-core gang-banger or loner, street trash? In the first book it seemed like Gus was a lonely street rat and in the second he's a gang leader? Either I missed something, or someone changed their mind as to how Gus should've been written and what his role in the "fellowship" should've been.
e. Is it Doomsday or Business-As-Usual? If two months have passed since the initial infection and half of Manhattan has burned to the ground along with thousands of people missing across the globe, I'm not sure one's day-to-day routine would still be in place. At this point in the saga, it seems that half of the time everything is in chaos and other times like nothing is going on. Which makes it really hard to believe when they show up for the book auction (that apparently hasn't taken place in 200 years) in the midst of world-wide chaos.

4. Editing. Like most people mentioned in the review of "The Strain", there is much reason to believe that this trilogy could've been reduced to a single novel. For example, "Phade - the vampyric vandalist" served no point to the overall plot - up to and including the side story of the cop who has been in search of Phade. If there are any LOST fans reading this, it reminds me of the episode of the couple who were after the diamonds. A single episode that served no plot development or purpose to the general story. Just a B-side that made it's way into the final cut.

5. This touches on my other problem with the writing - character development and purpose. I had a huge problem with the "feelers." Let me get this straight - kids go blind by the occultation from the first book and then two months later in the second book they are supposed to have highly refined then I guess the writers felt like "let's have the Master convert these kids to vampires - and for the hell of it, let's have their hands grow large so they can crawl around on all fours." L-A-M-E; why should their development and transformation be different than that of the adults. At one point, Nora strikes a flare with these guys (and I'm guessing they are the feelers, otherwise I take this comment back) and they all jump back...but wait...they're blind right? Or...afraid of light, wait...they sense light? But not UV light? Just terrible. The other character I had a problem with was Phade as mentioned before and also the elderly, retired Mexican wrestler Angel. Similar to my point on Setrakian, it's hard to imagine an old man motioning through some of the scenes that he was written in to.

6. For those that have read the book (and if you're still reading and plan on reading it will find out), did you think it was odd for two instances where Gus blew up the pawn shop and the helicopter. It's like they guy pulls the trigger first and asks questions later. If he thought they were in the pawn shop, why would he play McGuyver and blow up the pawn shop. And with the helicopter (leaving the nuclear power plant) why would he just assume who the helicopter was for and grab a rocket launcher (handy) to blow it up. Very strange for a character to act that way - let's leave the `splosions to Michael Bay.

I know at this point, it has become more rambling than review, but most of it was just to vent a little. If I had to sum my review up in one line it would be: "The Fall" was clunky and poorly developed. And yes, I will read "The Eternal Night" just to see how this B-movie ends.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Edward (new)

Edward Why does it have to be purely supernatural or limited to scientific naturalism? The vampires are physical beings with some paranormal powers who's origin is supernatural.

If it was all science-based, the invasion and conquest aspect of the story would be difficult or impossible. How could the Master control hordes of random plague carriers?

Without the Master trying to take over the world idea, it would just be another zombie type of story.

Kevin Bessey In essence, you're right Edward - without the supernatural bit it would not have worked for the Master to control the horde while trying to take over the world.

The point I was making is that the authors did a piss poor job of mixing science and supernatural. Much like mixing oil and water, you can give the appearance that the solution is fully mixed; however over time the two will separate and still give you two different layers.

message 3: by Edward (new)

Edward I can see how the supernatural element can alienate readers who were more interested in the plague idea and the detailed biological descriptions of the vampires. The mythical aspect was a surprise; good for some, bad for others.

If you like strictly biological or strictly demonic vampires I have a couple of book recommendations:

Hag Night by Tim Curran

The vampires in this are as usual resurrected dead or people unlucky enough to be bitten by another vampire. They drink blood. But once someone becomes a vampire, they leave most fleshly constraints behind.

Their bodies become highly malleable and magical--able to manifest as they appeared in life or in any stage of decay, as an inhumanly beautiful person, a hideous monster as well as transforming into a wolf, a swarm of bats, rats or insects or a ghostly mist.

They can only be destroyed by beheading in one stroke while in humanoid form, being thoroughly burned(possible if they are too weakened to transform and leave) or if their heart is impaled by a silver knife or a wooden stake. Nothing else will permanently destroy them.

Even a building collapsing on them would only send them back to ghostly form and they'd return. There is also a lot of material in the book about their attack being highly spiritual, too; invading and controlling a victim's mind and spreading fear and madness.

The Necroscope Series by Brian Lumley

While there are supernatural events and powers in this complex series, it's explanation for vampires is naturalistic. A rare parasite develops a symbiotic relationship with a human host. They get many of the strengths and weaknesses of traditional vampires(need blood, hurt by silver and sunlight, superior strength, immortal unless killed, etc.).

The effect of the other entity inside the human enhances the more predatory and otherwise unpleasant human traits, but the person's basic identity and memories remain. As they age, they become less human looking with animalistic facial features.

They can create one vampire equal to themselves in their lifetime and a few lesser ones by transplanting parts of the symbiot (or some would say parasite) into other people as it grows within them.

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