Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: The Strain

Let me first say that I don't read "end of the world" books. Prior to this first book in Guillermo DelToro and Chuck Hogan's trilogy, that category was largely comprised of The Stand and The Road. Actually, come to think of it, that might be the entirety of the category. Nor do I watch a whole lot of movies in that genre. I could count those using my fingers, and still have some left over. I might even get away with just one hand if I exclude movies based on books, because that would eliminate the television and film versions, respectively, of both books. Nor am I really sure the Mad Max trilogy counts in that genre. And while I do have two end of the world books on my "want to read" list, one of them is mostly on that list for the novelty of it. The other is on the list because I know the author - a little - and it is, by all accounts, really, really good. (That would be Alex Adams' White Horse.)

But I haven't read those yet.

I have read The Strain.

Technically, the book took me weeks to finish. I even had to renew it from the library. Ignore that. The sad truth is, I cracked it open, and then other things got in my way, and the book sat on my kitchen table for weeks through no fault of it's own. I take the blame for those first weeks. Whereas all credit is due to the book itself for the last four days. Because that's how long it took me to go through three quarters of the book. If there hadn't been pesky things like my having to work during the day, I probably would have finished it in half that time. It's that good.

I immediately went to the library and picked up books two and three of the trilogy.

It's that good.

To steal from a professional review blurbed on the inside cover: it's like crossing King with Stoker with Crichton. Two of whom are authors I like, and the other one wrote Dracula which pretty much set the tone for the entire vampire genre. Although you should know that already. Come to think on it, seeing as King wrote his own vampire book, I could probably take Stoker off the list. And it owes more to King and Crichton anyway in terms of it's scope and characters and pacing.

"Owes to" is not the same as "steals from," however, as this is it's own work and not simply a cut and paste from other books. Del Toro and Hogan make the genre - or genres, as it is end of the world by vampires - their own. There's just enough science in it to ground it in modern times. There's just enough supernatural to make you turn on all the lights. And while the book isn't perfect - the description of the vampires will seem very familiar to anyone who saw Del Toro's Blade II - it was enough of a ride to overlook the occasional jostle.

I won't give away any plot points, other than to say it ends on the kind of cliffhanger that makes me glad I can get books two and three from the library. It also sets things up so that if the series doesn't end happily for all involved, I'm not going to be surprised.

All involved excluding the reader, of course, as I have already started The Fall, and so far it is living up to the expectations set by The Strain.

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