Writer's Relief's Reviews > The Strain

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro
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's review
Jul 17, 2012

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bookshelves: hallo-reads

So THE STRAIN is a vampire book—however, it’s a morbid, disturbing inversion of the gorgeous, refined vampires that we’ve come to love (or hate) in the TWILIGHT series. In THE STRAIN, vampirism is a disease, a virus that threatens to infest the world, turning our population into mindless, physically deformed, bloodthirsty, killing machines. The book follows a select group of characters including a doctor from the CDC, an exterminator, and an old man—a Holocaust survivor—who seems to have known this war between human and vampire has been coming. As they watch the human population exponentially morphing into deranged, vampire-like beings, they begin to realize that much greater events and players are at work—Ancient godlike vampires who have been around for ages and have had their hands in many of the world’s biggest moments in history, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

The writing is definitely innovative as Guillermo del Toro tries his hardest to make this book read like a movie. It’s filled with dramatic scenes, lots of action, important dialogue, and creative use of flashbacks. However, there are unfortunate side effects—the prose is full of clichés, predictable moments, and is extremely convoluted. Overall, it was full of things that would be acceptable in film but doesn’t transfer well to this medium.

While some of the plot points are intriguing—the virus itself and the historical Ancient Vampire connection with the Holocaust—most of the plot is self-indulgent and does very little to create engaging characters. Movies rely so much on what is visual to create connections with the audience, while books rely on the little details, intimate moments, and unexpected actions—all things that are lacking in THE STRAIN. Ultimately, this book is worth a read to have a different kind of reading experience. Del Toro took a risk—an interesting one—and certainly created an original story, but I was left a little bit disappointed with the overall effect.

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