Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Strain (Book review)

Guillermo del Toro (left) and Chuck Hogan (right); The Strain book signing

The Strain, is the first of an apocalyptic new trilogy that includes The Fall (2010) and The Night Eternal (2011), from the visionary creator Guillermo del Toro of the Academy Award®-winning film Pan's Labyrinth and the comic book movies Hellboy 1 and 2. Del Toro teams up with Hammett Award-winning mystery/thriller author Chuck Hogan to bring you this epic novel about a horrifying battle between man and vampire that threatens all humanity.

The Strain opens with a flashback to the 1920's and Eastern Europe where a young Jewish boy, Abraham Setrakian, is being told a fairy tale by his grandmother. The legend of Jusef Sardu, the giant, his walking stick (pick-pick-pick), and his haunted castle. Very old world creeeeepy.

Flash forward to present day New York where something has gone terribly wrong. A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK enroute from Germany and lands safely. It suddenly goes completely dark, all of its shades down, with no communication or 911 calls coming from the aircraft as CSI type investigators puzzle outside it. Upon examination the plane yields only four survivors and no apparent answers.

Center for Disease Control (CDC) is called in and the head of their early response “Canary” team, Dr. Eph Goodweather, is baffled by the strange findings in the plane. After examining the situation, he is left with a feeling of dread that chills him to the bone as he tries to implement his scientific methods to a situation that clearly does not follow the rules of modern science.

An ornate box, rectangular in shape, containing only earth is found in the cargo hold of the plane. Vampires! These are not the sexy, love struck bloodsuckers of today. These are powerful, vengeful, hideous creatures who will stop at nothing until the world is theirs.

In a pawnshop on the Upper East Side (Spanish Harlem), Abraham Setrakian, a Holocaust surviver (Treblinka) realizes that there is an even older evil at work. A force from who's been seeking retribution for half a century, which has crossed the pond from the old world to the new. The legendary Dark Thing Sardu has arrived. It is a race against time to contain this ancient force before it spreads outside the city limits; an apocalyptic nightmare descending upon the characters and the world as they know it:

(excerpt from The Strain) "His lower jaw descended and out wriggled something pink and fleshy that was not his tongue. It was longer, more muscular and complex...and squirming." Eeeewwww!

And as the infection spreads throughout New York City, it falls to Eph, Abraham Setrakian, second generation Russian Vasiliy Fet (a rat catcher) and a few others to try and stop something which is seemingly unstoppable. The book shifts focus to different characters and their experiences as the plot sees the vampire infection spreading wider as it steers the leading characters closer together for the "final" confrontation with the Bad Guy.

Del Toro and Hogan flesh out the bones of the story so meticulously and vividly that the hairs on your neck will be standing while you check the deadbolts on your door. These Big Bad Bloodsuckers will have fans of horror and crime novels turning the pages of this compelling novel way into the wee hours of the morning.

The Strain conjures up visions of a big budget apocalyptic thriller laced with cutting-edge creature makeups and special effects. Check out the The Strain book trailer : Dog Shed scene

I would love to see a film adaptation of The Strain trilogy. The book is like a teaser for Guillermo del Toro's deliciously wicked world of hideous, creepy, fleshed out monsters on the big screen. The Strain book trailer: Jail Scene will totally creep you out and leave you wanting more.

I can't wait for The Fall (2010) and The Night Eternal (2011)!

Check out The Strain website at

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