Review–The Strain (The Strain #1) by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1)
by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Summary: A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Ephraim "Eph" Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.
In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing.
So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city - a city that includes his wife and son - before it is too late.

Source: I purchased a paperback.

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When I started seeing previews on FX for the TV show, I knew I would have to pick up the books. Vampire horror is one of my favorite genres and the book reviews compared it to The Passage, which was one of my favorite vampire apocalyptic horror novels. I watched the first few episodes and rushed out to my local Barnes and Nobles for the books.

The Strain was interesting and I am highly invested in the plot. I loved seeing the few fight for the fate of the world while humans were being turned into terrifying creatures. I loved that the vampires were ancient and part of legend, but their behavior and the way they created more vampires behaved like a virus. It merged lore with science in many ways and I enjoyed it, especially since the main character was part of the CDC. I also liked the unique aspects of the vampires that we haven’t seen before in vampire fiction, like their giant stinger contraption, the white blood, and the worms. It turns terrifying vampires into something a little more realistic and scary when it has aspects of a pathogen.

I loved what was happening on each page and I absolutely love the TV show. However, I thought the novel was lacking in many ways. The writing wasn’t very good at all, nor was the dialogue. I prefer the dialogue in the show and seeing the scenes coming to life. In the book, the scenes were lacking and the writing was mostly telling instead of showing. The authors used short and sweet sentences with straightforward descriptions. While occasionally descriptive, as a whole, the writing didn’t portray the horrors as well as it could have. I am very happy that The Strain has become a television show because it seems to me that it’s working better as a show. It was difficult to continue the book because the writing was so mediocre and straightforward and the plot went along with the show pretty well, so I wasn’t experiencing many differences to make reading worthwhile.

I feel like the story was originally supposed to be visual (like a TV show or a movie) and the novelization was never intended. It just didn’t read like a great book, yet the plot and characters appealed to me. It was frustrating. I’m glad I am watching the show in order to enjoy the story in the format it is suited for. I think a good vampire horror novel should excel in writing and that was one of the things I loved most about The Passage by Justin Cronin and all of Stephen King’s novels. Neither author writes the most amazing novels ever, nor are they necessarily poetic, but they do a wonderful job of capturing the horror of whatever situation and that’s where Del Toro and Hogan fell short.

I regret having purchased the other two novels in the trilogy. I will probably read them just to find out what happens next, but I am not eager to continue right now. I recommend the story, but not necessarily the books. The TV show is wonderful and so far, it’s basically the same.


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