BOOK: The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan (2009)

I’m not sure why I expected more out of this novel than I got.  I mean, Guillermo Del Toro is a brilliant film director, but it’s not like that gives him any novelist cred, really.  Still, I expected more than what is, essentially, just a badly written Robin Cook novel (redundant) about vampires.

I read the whole thing, sure (I’ve read numerous Cook novels, for that matter).  It was OKAY; it wasn’t unreadable.  I kind of liked the beginning — it starts with an airplane that lands safely despite the fact everybody on board is dead, which, whoa, that’s pretty weird, right?   But overall, it was badly written enough that I’m unlikely to bother with the second book in the planned trilogy.

Which is too bad, really, because after being disappointed by The Passage, I was kind of hoping not to be disappointed by this one too.  SO MUCH DISAPPOINTMENT!   SO FEW VAMPIRE BOOKS THAT DON’T SUCK!   (Read Let the Right One In instead, is what I’m saying.)


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3 Responses to “BOOK: The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan (2009)”

  1. Trip Says:

    Hate to throw some more cold water on this book, but a story opening with a plane safely landing and everyone on board is dead?

    That’s been done before, too: “The Lion’s Game” by Nelson DeMille, 2000. (Cue

  2. Liz Says:

    Well, I liked it, anyway. There were some parts that I thought were incredibly cliched (I don’t know how to put in an accent mark), and also, I had to go back and keep checking characters, because there were so darn many of them. But I rather liked the concept, and, even though I didn’t think the writing was great, it didn’t turn me off THAT much. I do remember that it seemed to take a long time to get scary – no, not scary – exciting. And I do think the ending was annoying, but I do plan to read the rest of the trilogy – though not ’till it comes out in PAPERBACK.

    I LOVED the first ep of “The Walking Dead.” I thought that opening scene was rather tragic, really, and not ridiculous. I think the lead was hoping against hope that the little girl was NOT – you know – and was genuinely sad when he saw what she was, and had to do what he did. It was obvious to me that this was one of those “flash-forward” beginnings, too. And I thought his horrified reactions to his surroundings after he woke up were were plenty realistic. Afterward, I think he was in shock, and also had gone into Survival Mode, so his apparent lack of curiosity about what might have happened seemed reasonable.

  3. briantoohey Says:

    I actually liked The Strain, a lot, for being B-movie type fodder. It reminded me a lot of early 80s King, on par with stuff like ‘Salems Lot. And I read it with an eye towards how del Toro would have directed it, which means as much was in the visuals as the storytelling. I mean, del Toro’s not the deepest storyteller around, and so much of what he does is design-based. This felt to me like something that probably started as a premium cable mini-series idea (there are two more books in the series, and the second just hit the shelves in hardcover). I agree with you that the plane opening was predictable and ho-hum, but I liked the reinterpretation of vampires that seemed to combine that early 80s Kingsian sensibility with an Outbreak-type medical angle and play off of our current viral fears, yet do it in a way that is also purely del Toro and actually made vampires scary/exciting again instead of just angsty soap opera fodder. It was also an extremely fast read, which didn’t hurt. And fyi if you’re curious, Chuck Hogan, the co-writer, has written a handful of crime thrillers, one of which, Prince of Thieves, was just adapted into The Town by Ben Affleck.

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