book thoughts: The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan

Clearly Guillermo Del Toro has had enough of this Twilight crap too.  You won’t find any sexy sparkling vampires in this store.  It’s 100% horror. 

The Strain is the first book in planned trilogy.  It’s always hard to judge Part I when you have no idea what Part II or III will bring.  But here goes nothing…

A plane lands at JFK airport in New York City and almost everyone on board has mysteriously died.  But their bodies were not discovered hunched over their seats or with horrified looks on their faces – they were all sitting peacefully in their seats.  A small group of 4 passengers survived and are rushed to the hospital.  Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (“Eph” for short) drags himself away from a weekend with his son to examine the incident.  But things don’t add up.  There’s no evidence of terrorist attack, there’s no problems with the plane…the strangest thing they have found is a large wooden cabinet in the cargo hold filled with dirt…

Del Toro’s vampires are not supernatural demons – they have more in common with Scott Westerfeld’s vampires in Peeps – an ancient virus that takes over the host body and sets up its own shop.  It’s not possession so much as a plague.  It’s not two pointy fangs you’re dealing with, but a jaw that unhinges like a snake and a stinger that sucks the life out of anyone it can reach. 

Del Toro and Hogan blend in a good amount of random facts and pseudo-science.  It was like if Michael Crichton had written a horror novel.  You’ll learn a lot about New York City’s subway system, rats, and more!  Look kids, it’s educational too! 

This first book spends a lot of time introducing you to the characters.  Part of it was that horror movie feel – let’s meet all these people – WHO WILL LIVE AND WHO WILL DIE!  Made it a bit more tense when an infected person arrived at their doorstep.

The sequel won’t be out until 2010 and the ending does have a cliff hanger, though it surprised me with how it ended.  If you want a spooky beach read, I definitely recommend picking it up, but just remember, it doesn’t really end and if you’re easily frustrated by a cliffhanger, you might want to wait a couple years. 

For more on The Strain, check out the official site which has interactive bits of information you can read, like the medical report on the passengers and the notes of exterminator Vasily Fet, plus a link to their YouTube page with some disturbing video of two pivitol scenes in the book.

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