Review: The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1) by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The Strain / Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan

It’s The Walking Dead for vampires.

This is not the first time that vampirism is considered a virus in literature.  Still, it’s not the most popular “way” to become one of the blood-sucking undead.  And we don’t have very many mindless parasitic vampires in modern literature.  Eric Northman and Lissa Dragomir definitely could control their urges let alone their person.  del Toro’s vampires in this book are rather… wild.

It reminds me of the movie Resident Evil: Degeneration.  The main spread of the disease originates – and cultivates – on an airplane.  But instead of the passengers becoming zombies, they seemingly look dead.  They are then transported to the city morgue where they eventually reanimate and spread the “plague” all over New York City.  Our unlikely hero is Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather, head of the CDC Canary project.  With him are Nora Martinez and Jim Kent.  Together, they investigate this plane case thinking that something biological is to blame.  Somewhere in the city, Abraham Setrakian feels that the time has finally come.  An old nemesis has come back and this time, failure is not an option.

This book caught my attention by way of the TV series on FX.  It has some gruesome promo posters and a pretty new and interesting premise.  I started watching it and by the 3rd episode, I decided pick up the book as well.  At first blush, I immediately preferred the book over the show.  The show didn’t have the best pacing, writing, and acting and the characters were pretty annoying.  I liked them more in writing – maybe because the acting was not very good.  I stuck with it because David Bradley aka Mr. Filch from the Harry Potter franchise plays Setrakian and Sean Astin aka Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings plays Jim Kent.  Talk about nerdfest overload.  Anyway, I’m glad I stuck with it because now, I think I prefer the show more.  For now.  Let me explain.

The show differs somewhat with the book.  There are characters introduced in the show’s first season that are not yet in the first book.  Some people are disposed off differently.  The mythology is pretty faithful but the execution is slightly changed.  In that case, I prefer the book.  However, the book becomes slower and redundant by the second half.  Every chapter is another character’s POV and the same things happen over and over, just with a different set of people.  Or the story will come back to a character and the same thing happens to him/her/it as with the previous chapter about him/her/it.  It just dragged and ended so abruptly.  By the time this gets posted, the show would’ve aired it’s 11th episode and already, most of the book stuff would’ve been covered.  What is left to put on the screen?  Uh… more Vasiliy Fet, maybe?

Overall, the whole book is one huge set up for things to come.  It’s like LOST, so many questions but very little answers, if any.  I was confused AND disappointed by the end of this book.  I may pick up the next one but I’ll wait until the 2nd season of the TV show.  I get more from the show than what I got from the book that it looks like I may just stick with that and forget about the books.

Rating: 3/5.  It had a promising start. What happened?


One thought on “Review: The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1) by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

  1. Pingback: TOP TEN TUESDAYS | Books in a Series | Shelf Pickings


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