Review: The Strain

Review: “The Strain”- Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

In all honesty, I have no idea how I found “The Strain.” Whether it was suggested to me by Amazon, or I noticed it on Entertainment Weekly (Its sequel, “The Fall,” was just released in hardcover)…

More importantly, how did I NOT know about this trilogy?

The prospect of any tale spun from the mind of Guillermo Del Toro is infinitely intriguing to me. Having seen “Pan’s Labyrinth” and some of his other work, I know that he has unlimited potential for cinematic excellence… and some really screwed-up situations.

In any event, a couple of weeks ago I found myself bored to tears on a Friday afternoon, and was browsing on Amazon when I came across “The Strain.” I started to read the reviews, and Amazon helpfully provided a preview of the first few chapters (they’re short)… I didn’t breathe through the entire excerpt. I knew that I had to get the book at the next opportunity.

TxtingMrDarcy Notes Version:

A trans-Atlantic flight from Germany touches down at JFK airport without incident, when suddenly the entire plane goes dead. No power, no communication, no lights… and no possible reason for the event.

The CDC is called in to examine a possible case of biological warfare. Heading the team is Dr Ephraim Goodweather, a tortured genius-type who is dealing with the breakdown of his marriage after being more committed to his career for years. He arrives on the scene to a completely dark and silent plane. When he and his partner suit up and explore the aircraft, they discover that everyone on board is dead. Or so they think. The victims show no signs of injury and no cause of death is immediately visible. The only strange piece of evidence is biologic material only visible under UV lights, and a large, coffin-shaped cabinet in the cargo hold that doesn’t appear on any cargo manifests…

Meanwhile, in Harlem a Holocaust Survivor named Abraham Setrakian hears the news story about the plane, and knows that his time to battle an ancient evil from his past has come.

Verdict: This book is ridiculously fun. Yes, it’s graphic as all hell and pretty disgusting at times (the biological changes in the virus victims are discussed in great and gory detail). It reads like a cross between Michael Crichton and Steven King- short, intense chapters packed with detail and cutting away at the exact second you don’t want them to. It’s compulsively read-able, like a trainwreck. You know that it’s going to keep getting worse, yet you can’t look away. Rather than “cutting away from” the spread of the virus, as Justin Cronin did in “The Passage,” Del Toro and Hogan spell out the lifestyle of the victims and their gruesome feeding habits. Intertwined in the saga are subplots of government conspiracy and a historic war between Old and New World vampires. I knew that I shouldn’t read it before bed, but couldn’t help myself… Now I’m just waiting for the second installment.

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