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  • Novel: The Strain
  • Authors: Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • Pages: 416
  • Price: $26.99
  • Series:

The Strain Book Review

The Best Vampire Novel In Years

By Tim Janson     July 15, 2009

Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan's New Vampire Series THE STRAIN(2009).
© William Morrow


Vampires have taken quite a beating in recent years. Writers like Ann Rice and Charlaine Harris and films like “Twilight” have taken this blood-sucking predator and turned him into a creature of seduction and sensuality. It’s become so bad that people dress up to play vampire at Goth parties. Thankfully, the vampire as a true monster is back thanks to Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s new novel “The Strain”, the first of a trilogy.
It all begins as a passenger jet with over 200 passengers and crew, lands at JFK Airport in New York. However shortly after touching down, the control tower loses all communication with the plane. There it sits on the tarmac…no lights, no movement, no communication at all, seemingly dead to the world. Fearing a terrorist attack or an infectious disease out break, Homeland Security and the Center for Disease Control are mobilized. 
Heading up an early response team for the CDC is Doctor Ephraim Goodweather. He is the first to board the plane, ready for any contingency but not ready for finding everyone dead but for four survivors. What killed the passengers is a mystery, but what is keeping them from decomposing is a bigger mystery. The bodies are taken to various morgues throughout the city for examination and yet one by one the bodies begin to disappear as if they’ve gotten up and walked away.
Goodweather and his team are finding strange biological changes going on within the bodies they examine as if they are completely rearranging their bodily functions. There is one many who seems to know what going on. An elderly Jewish man named Abraham Setrakian. He knows exactly what’s happening to the bodies and what will happen to all of New York if the creature he’s been hunting since the end of World War II is not destroyed. Sardu, the Master has come to New York!
Del Toro and Hogan give us a unique take on the vampire. These are not creatures who are going to seduce you with smoldering blue eyes but rather they are going to attack and devour you, or turn you into one of their kind. They are a nod to ancient myths about vampires but with a Sci-Fi edge to them in the way that the writers explain how the vampire virus breaks down and reshapes the body and how the strain will multiply exponentially if not stopped very soon.
The Strain moves at breakneck speed like a runaway locomotive with the entire novel taking place over a span of just a couple of days. It reads like a good movie with its fast action and diverse characters. You won’t even mind that it doesn’t slow down long enough to develop some of the secondary characters. Best of all, Hogan and Del Toro hold their Master vampire close to the vest. For most of the book he hovers in the background casting a dark pall over everything without actually revealing himself. You strain to know more about this terrifying creature but they deftly keep you in the dark for most of the book.
The rest of the trilogy will be hard-pressed to match the first book because “The Strain” is the best Vampire Novel since Dan Simmons’ “Children of the Night” and perhaps even the best since “Salem’s Lot”. Best of all, these are not Vampires you want to date or bring home to mom…


Showing items 1 - 9 of 9
jdiggitty 7/15/2009 7:06:29 AM

I feel spoiled for some reason

tjanson 7/15/2009 9:25:37 AM

don't be...the brief synopsis happens within the first 40 pages of a 400 page book.  The book moves fast!

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 7/15/2009 2:30:45 PM

Yeah, no spoilers here.  I want to mention something that's a spoiler but I won't that has me intriuged but I'll have to keep it to myself until next year.

richmadcity 7/15/2009 3:31:59 PM

I just finished reading this book and it is REALLY good and creepy.  It took a little while to get started, but once the vamps get going, so does the book.  The new twist on vampires is really different and completely amps up the creeper-factor.  The worst part of the book is having to wait a year until the next one!

ddiaz28 7/16/2009 6:32:05 AM

It's funny I read this review today because I just started reading the book this morning on the train to work.  I'm hooked already and will probably fly through it.  After that maybe I'll read Twilight.  HA!

jdiggitty 7/17/2009 9:39:18 PM

Just got through it. Anyone else see the story he was  trying to do with Blade 2? Many similarities and I think that turned me off a bit. I do like how they are combining genres.


Small spoiler.


Seriously! If your ex-husband is the head of CDC emergency response team and he tells you to get the **** out of town, AND take your boyfriend!, and you don't., I think that's a pretty big lapse in plotline.

neverqwestion 8/1/2009 2:47:14 AM

I read this book in 4 days, and it was SO good, I couldn't put it down. I would have read it in 2 if something stupid called "work" didn't get in the way.....I will be eagerly awaiting books 2 and 3...too bad I have to wait until next year, though.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 8/3/2009 11:29:53 AM


Seriously! If your ex-husband is the head of CDC emergency response team and he tells you to get the **** out of town, AND take your boyfriend!, and you don't., I think that's a pretty big lapse in plotline.//

Unfortunately, even in real life people don't follow this logic. For all she knew - like her fiance' said - he could just be doing for his own personal gains and also, remember...they had him framed later on and made him look like a criminal.

Inferno 8/10/2009 5:40:28 AM

Now I have to pick up this book...Shame on you people! :)



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