February 16, 2023


The Strain

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy, #1)

by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Book Description (from Amazon)

They have always been here. Vampires. In secret and in darkness. Waiting. Now their time has come. In one week, Manhattan will be gone. In one month, the country. In two months—the world.

A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing . . .

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city—a city that includes his wife and son—before it is too late.

Britney’s Book Review

I have always had a soft spot for vampire books but you can read so many books in a genre before they all start to sound the same. Or maybe I’m just tired of the Twilight craze. Either way, I felt a mixture of apprehension and interest when a friend told me about The Strain. She explained it as “awesome” and “a new vampire premise” and “how vampirism could really happen.” And then she told me that Guillermo del Toro helped write the book. That was the clincher. I mean, who has watched Pan’s Labyrinth and not fallen in love with del Toro?

The book definitely had a different premise to approaching vampires compared to anything I have ever read—vampirism synonymous with biological warfare, no dark romantic figure—but it also brought vampires back to what they were: dark, scary beings that haunted the night and made you stay up just so you wouldn’t have nightmares about them. No holy water or crosses can protect you and you don’t have to worry about sexy fangs puncturing your skin but something much worse and much more disturbing.

And there is no part of your soul retained within you once you have the virus that is vampirism. In other words, forget about Edward Cullen and his sparkling vampire family. Vampires are back to being scary. And because of that, I loved it.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the dark romances that are part of the majority of fantasy and sci-fi books just like any other young adult bibliophile, but I think we have become spoiled in turning the dark world of creatures of the night and monsters into romantic and loving beings. Sometimes a baddie is just that- a baddie.

The book was a little difficult to follow at times with the large number of characters being hard to keep track of and new ones being added sporadically but it was full of cinematic imagery and I felt like I was watching a movie while I read The Strain. I’m thinking that was a bit of del Toro’s doing but I’ve never read anything by Chuck Hogan so it could be possible that he writes in this way. But the quick changes of scenes and characters and action felt a bit like a movie and I’m waiting for Guillermo del Toro to start production on the books. Which I would be more than happy to see.

The characters were real and I found myself getting tense when I worried something was going to happen to some of my favorites. And del Toro and Hogan had no qualms with sharing darker, more disturbing, and horrifying deaths and actions. At times it was uncomfortable to read and at others you were on the edge of your seat waiting to see what could possibly happen next.

The book ends on a cliffhanger but that’s because it is the first in a trilogy, followed by The Fall and Eternal Night. I can’t wait to read them both once they are available at my library.

If you enjoy horror and want to read something both different yet returning to the folklore and nightmare that have been vampires throughout history, I highly recommend The Strain. Now I plan on watching a few romantic comedies before going to sleep to keep the nightmares at bay.