The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
I picked up this book as I was wanting a scary version of vampires.
The book begins with a jet touching down at JFK then basically going “dark” (as in dead with no lights or contact). The CDS is dispatched after various other groups to find out what happened to the passengers on the plane. Ephraim Goodweather (of the Center for Disease Control) discovers a potential new virus and struggles to keep the passengers separated from the outside world. He is warned by an old Jewish man, Abraham Setrakian) that an ancient evil has arrived. At first he dismisses this, but when the dead passengers goes missing, he starts to realize that maybe the man might know more than Ephraim is wanting to believe. And the race for humans to survive this plague begins.
This novel is a very dark and horrific story. These vampires are not “pretty” or the type of vampire you want to meet after sun rise. The story is very violent and has some stomach turning scene. The autopsy scenes were very interesting, but not recommended for the weak stomach. The mythos for the vampires mixed with the scientific explanation works well though again though I felt like this was a more serious rewrite of Blade 2 at times though the background of where the vampires comes from is definitely different. The story is very well researched from the beginning to the end. It is a tad slow at the beginning, but creepily so and picks up very quickly. The characters are interesting and their various agendas make sense. There is a real sense of dread, horror and desperation as the ending comes. However, be warned that this is the first book in a trilogy as the ending leaves room for a sequel (obviously). The second book, The Fall, is already out on shelves in hardcover format and I’ll be picking it up later to see how the war goes. Definitely recommend for fans of darker, scarier vampires or fans of vampires from movies like Blade 2.
The only major sticking point for me is that I did find the Ephraim character a bit convenient. It is always convenient to have someone be able to tell you what you have encountered. I would’ve enjoyed it more if everyone had to find out without being told. Also, his “fighting” ability did not seem to ring true with his previous injuries from his first encounter with a vampire. There were a few other elements that I questioned that seemed to contradict statements about the vampires being what they were, but I am hoping the sequels will address these issues to explain how and why to where it makes sense that certain exceptions were made in regards to the vampires strengths and weaknesses.
I would not rate The Strain as a keeper for me, but I definitely enjoyed reading it. 4 stars out of 5.