Friday 30 August 2013

The Strain (The Strain Book 1) - Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan

Title: The Strain (The Strain Book 1)
Author: Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan
Genre: Horror
Published: 2009
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

“The Strain” by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan is the first novel in a trilogy that will explore their own vision of the vampire genre. This book itself starts with the landing of a Boeing 777 in New York which suddenly stops on the taxi way with all its power off. Upon investigating the aircraft, it is discovered that nearly all the passengers are dead from some unknown cause. When strange things start to occur such as the disappearance of all the bodies from the morgue, the CDC scientist in charge, Dr Eph Goodweather finds himself unable to comprehend what is happening. However, before long a holocaust survivor who has been hunting vampires for decades reveals the truth to Eph and draws him into the fight to try and save mankind.

The novel flowed very well as it started slow and deliberate to set the mood before picking up the pace as the story progressed. I quite simply found the book to be a very quick and easy read that entertained me from start to finish. In addition it was good to see a vampire novel again that actually focused on horror with some rather creepy sections and vampires that are actually being vicious, heartless creatures with no remorse.

I do have a few issues with the vampire premise in the book related to the fact that the authors have tried to create a realistic element to vampirism with the use of a parasite that doesn’t survive under UV light. This is all very well and good, but then I fail to understand why these vampires are then also allergic to silver or why they need to be invited to cross a body of water. These two things don’t really tie up with vampirism being caused by a parasite and in my opinion it slightly spoils the authors’ attempt at giving vampirism a realistic edge.

The biggest let down with the book however is in regards to the characters which is a shame as this meant that what could have been a great book is just a good book. Basically, they all seem very cliché and undeveloped with the main protagonist Eph being very two-dimensional. It almost feels like the book has been written based on an initial TV series outline and there has been no attempt to enhance or build on the character’s basic descriptions.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read that shown the vampire genre could still be mature, intense and dark. I had almost grown to believe that all future vampire novels would be paranormal romance in style. The characters are rather weak, but overall the novel is an entertaining read despite this issue. My final word of warning however is that people should not fall for some of the commentary around this novel which implies it offers a fresh look at vampire stories. Yes it is different to the usual standard we tend to see these days but I don’t think there was anything here that hasn’t been covered in other novels. So feel free to pick up the book and enjoy a vampire novel that tries to embrace its horror roots but don’t go in expecting to see something completely original.


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